In a world of conformity, you want things that stand out, that catch the eye, with their point of difference or even a genuine and authentic USP. In our world, it is better still if this point of difference ‘catches the palate’, too. 

This month I have found three wines for you that taste incredible while at the same time possessing points of difference that catch the imagination and make them stand out from the crowd. You do not have to pay up for the pleasure either, as you will note that this trio boasts truly competitive price points. I feel this will be an important factor in 2023 as people continue to tighten their belts while at the same time feeling good about supporting their local businesses instead of splashing out on products made by anonymous overseas companies. There is something deeply British about our successes in the field of nonconformity. 

Whether it takes the form of William Webb Ellis picking up the ball rather than kicking it, or punkish outrage, inspiring the late Dame Vivienne Westwood to create some of the world’s most eye-catching, shockingly beautiful and, at the same time, genuinely home-grown fashion. 

In the wine world, those who try hard to do something different often end up failing. The finest forms of vinous nonconformity come from people with ambition, persistence and determination while at the same time having a healthy disregard for the convention. It would be lovely to think that we can breed more wine folk like this in our trade because we need to catch every palate we can.

2021 Pattingham Vineyard, Rudge Heath Divico

I have never written up two wines from the same estate in consecutive months in Vineyard. The lovely people at Pattingham were seemingly happy to be featured in last month’s article, so they offered to send me a couple more wines in their range. 

I am glad they did because I happened to be pondering this month’s nonconformity theme when I tasted them. It was clear, in an instant, that Rudge Heath had to form the heart of this month’s piece. 

There are audible Divico rumblings in the shires since this grape was granted permission to be planted in our land a couple of years ago, and it is easy to taste why when you wrap your palate around this wine. Named after a Gallic chieftain, this deeply fruity Divico, when carefully tempered with a hint of Rondo and treated to a whisper of French oak, transforms into an erudite charmer. With an admirable depth of blackberry and black cherry tones coupled with an enticing dusting of sweet spices, this is an impressively balanced red wine with a fair degree of tension on the finish, too, which makes it even more toothsome. 

2019 Meophams, Signature Sparkling Brut


This wine has a wonderful story. Meophams founders David and Pauline Grey planted a host of different grape varieties in the early Nineties when they established this estate.

 When they retired in 2015, they approached current Wine Director Surinder Bassi’s parents, who had worked on the farm for 21 years, to see if they would like to take it on. They took the plunge, and while rummaging around in the Meophams wine library, they discovered an old vintage of sparkling Reichensteiner made by none other than Dermot Sugrue. 

It was a beauty, so they celebrated this unique wine style by releasing a thrilling 2019 vintage made by Nick Lane and Henry Sugden at Defined Wine. I cannot remember tasting a 100% sparkling Reichensteiner before, and I was unaware that this wine was made from this underrated grape when I first tasted it. 

This point of difference has yielded a wine of uncommon delicacy and allure, making it all the more exciting. It feels ‘easier’ to sink your teeth into than a ‘classic blend’ while at the same time tasting open, juicy and floral. It is also unmistakably English with its delicate texture and mesmerising florals. Downright delicious, this is the epitome of nonconformity, and it has a heart-warming legend to back it up, too.

NV Oxney Organic, Estate Rosé



I am a massive fan of Oxney’s wines, and opening a bottle is always a treat. Perhaps I have become too blasé because I tasted this sensational wine recently and, while writing an enthusiastic tasting note, assumed that it was based on Chardy and the Pinots (still a band name that no one has yet taken)! 

How foolish I am because, instead, this mesmerising rosé is more of a field blend with Seyval Blanc in the lead singer role and the aforementioned trio making up the numbers. 

This release is based on the 2018 vintage, and it is uncommonly smooth and unrushed on the palate. There is no hectic, ‘me, me, me’ urgency found in so many young sparklers. 

It is not aggressively fizzy either, preferring to be controlled, prickly and pervasive. The Oxney blurb states, ‘These are corks that should pop onto village cricket outfields all summer long’, and I feel that this enchanting mental image sums up the unique, bucolic appeal of the wonderful wines from this fascinating organic estate tucked behind Rye in the verdant East Sussex countryside.