Bacchus is one of the most popular grape varieties in the UK, and is mainly used for still wines. It’s a cross of (Riesling x Sylvaner) x Müller Thurgau, and it was bred in 1933 by Peter Morio at the JKI in Germany, but was only released in 1972. The results in the UK are quite interesting, with lovely aromatics dominated by terpenes. I tried three quite ambitious examples and compared them. Two of them were skin fermented (orange wines) and the third was a great debut from an urban winery.
Saddle Goose Bacchus 2020 England
12% alcohol. Elegantly labelled. This had 18 days skin contact. Lovely aromatics here: floral elderflower notes with some pithy citrus. The palate is crisp, bright and focused, with more citrus fruit and a touch of herbs. Good concentration, balance and weight with a taut lemony finish. It’s pure and has nice layers of flavour: lots to like about this wine, with some mandarin and orange peel complexity. 90/100 (£27.95 Vino Vero)
Gutter and Stars I Wanna Be Adored Bacchus 2020 Essex, England
11.5% alcohol. Gutter and Stars is a Cambridge-based urban winery from journalist Chris Wilson, and the grapes for this debut wine came from the Missing Gate Vineyard in Essex’s Crouch Valley. It comes in very appealing packaging, with a blue wax seal. This has a distinctive nose with a fresh, slightly cabbagey green edge to the fine citrus fruit. The palate is vivid, lively and intense with some green hints to the bright citrus fruit. There’s a touch of elderflower here, but the main driver is citrus and pear fruit, with a sense of freshness, delicacy and elegance. A very fresh but refined expression of Bacchus, with a long, expanding lemony finish. 89/100 (sold out, direct sales, £20)
Chapel Down Discovery Series Orange Bacchus 2019 England
12% alcohol. Fermented on skins and then aged in old oak barrels, this is a full yellow/gold colour. It has an enticing nose of apricot, fennel and citrus peel, and then in the mouth it is full flavoured with bold, taut citrus fruit, a bit of peachy richness and a slightly stern, smoky, savoury, grippy finish. A really intriguing wine with a lot of personality. 91/100 (£20 direct)