Suppose Bacchus were around today, and he was given the honour of bestowing his name on any grape variety he chose. Would he plump for a Silvaner, Riesling, Müller Thurgau ‘criss-cross’ (my technical term for a convoluted hybrid grape’s genesis)? Given he is the god of winemaking, orchards, fertility, insanity, ritual madness, vegetation, religious ecstasy, and theatre in no particular order and among others, perhaps he might warm to the idea that a ménage à trois was involved in his parturition.

I think he would be thrilled to learn his name was taken by a happy-go-lucky, cheeky, light-hearted variety instead of a sombre, furrowed brow of a grape, like grumpy old Carignan, awkward Grignolino or joyless Pais. 

English Bacchus wines tend to be frisky, mischievous, uplifting and restless, while German versions are often more leaden-footed and clunky. I think the raucous, carousing deity would very much enjoy drinking our finest English Bacchus wines at his legendary Bacchanalian festivals while dancing the frenzied Baccheia dance, named after, you know who! And so it is that we, in the UK, who are privileged to think of this knavish tutelary every time we raise a glass of pale, white, herbal, elderflower and lime zest-tinged wine to our lips. Well, I raise my glass to that. 

You will already know I am a fully-fledged disciple of Bacchus and all things bacchanalian, having mentioned no fewer than 20 Bacchus-based wines on these pages since Vineyard Magazine’s inception and this week, I have three more stunning wines for your consideration. And don’t just drink these stunning wines on your own – perhaps organise a party, a really good one, and be sure to include some frenzied dancing.

2022 Thorrington Mill Vineyard, Bacchus


Ben Smith makes this wine at Itasca Wines, and the fruit comes from the Thorrington Mill vineyard in Essex. One imagines the brief here is to build a more main course-shaped offering because it employs 13% barrel fermentation in neutral oak plus some malolactic fermentation to gather its skirts and boost its mid-palate succulence. 

The result is terrific, with none of the green bean or raw nettle notes associated with lesser Bacchus wines. This time, there is a hint of yellow plum and Chinese pear before the flavour rotates towards a more formal, crisply refreshing Bacchus finish. Youthful and energetic, I have a feeling that this wine will evolve nicely over the next twelve months, making it a candidate for both the cellar and the fridge!

2022 Camel Valley, Atlantic Dry




Bacchus is surprisingly adept while working with other varieties, and far from hogging the limelight, it is happy to share responsibilities. Sam Lindo cleverly uses 50% Pinot Blanc to balance the 50% Bacchus perfectly in Atlantic Dry, and I think this is the finest vintage yet of this ever-reliable wine. 

Sam’s one-word descriptor of what Pinot Blanc brings to Bacchus’s aromatics and zestiness is ‘poise’. Pinot Blanc calms Bacchus’s hyperactivity, adding a relaxing aura while allowing Bacchus to punch through with discreet spice and ginger hints. 

Texturally, this is a satiny-smooth wine which seems incongruous in the world of Bacchus, but it is not such an alien concept given Thorrington Mill’s near-creamy texture. Atlantic Dry shows that the confident progression of a style is a divine right of any wine brand, including those whose backbone is Bacchus, and if that isn’t godly, then nothing is.

2022 Penn Croft, Village Bacchus


I am a huge admirer of Ben Smith’s winemaking, and I was privy to an early sample of this wine last August, which looked incredible. 

Penn Croft has a pair of Bacchae (not confident of this plural because the internet suggests this means a collection of priestesses) in its portfolio, and Village is the lighter, zestier and more pointedly refreshing of the two. While this wine is not as voluminous as the ‘reserve’ level wine, called Penn Croft Bacchus, without the ‘Village’, it certainly packs a lot of flavour, and the delivery is stunningly controlled and beautifully enticing. 

Having tasted legions of Loire whites, Kiwi Savvies and all manner of dry white wines from far-flung corners of the Earth, I cannot find a more sophisticated twenty-quid, complex, multi-faceted, aperitif-style white wine.