That was until I (Talya Roberson) discovered Folc, and it hit the spot.
So, I couldn’t wait to meet Folc founders Tom and Elisha Cannon.
It turned out they have big ambitions. They don’t actually expect people to stop drinking Provence rosé, nor would they want them to. But they are about creating a rosé brand equal in quality and reputation to Whispering Angel to give people a viable home grown alternative. Inspired by Sasha Lachine, the King of Rosé and the man behind Whispering Angel, their goal is to be the English rosé on everyone’s lips.
Unlike most other English wine producers, Folc makes just one wine and that’s a still English rosé. “All the focus in the UK has been on English Sparkling Wine,” says Tom. “The quality being produced is phenomenal. But the English climate also really lends itself to the production of top-quality rosé.”
Hang on a minute. World class rosé producers such as Chateau D’Esclans and Minuty use Cinsault, Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah grapes. These need long sunny summer days to mature to ripeness and can’t be grown in volume in England. Well not yet, anyway.
And indeed, they have: Folc has aromas of ripe summer berries, elderflower and herbs. They follow the Provence tradition of blending local grape varieties and in Folc’s case this means, in Tom’s words the “holy grail of grapes”: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay. Yet by including Bacchus, Pinot Gris and others as well, this is a wine that is less about what’s in the bottle and more about the experience you get from drinking it.
“We want to showcase the best of England, but most importantly we want folc to evoke memories of the English countryside and having good times with friends and family,” says Elisha. We make rosé “because it is less pretentious than most wines. The pale colour, the clear pretty bottle – this speaks volumes to most customers and is much easier to digest than region or terroir.”
The customer is at the heart of Folc. “Wine is often named after the estate or the producer, but Folc is not about us,” says Elisha “It’s about the community that enjoys drinking it. In old English, ‘folc’ means ‘people’.”
Elisha and Tom are just starting out. At 30 years old, they gave up their high-flying city jobs and moved to the Kent countryside to follow their dream of running their own wine business.
“It’s one of the most difficult things we’ve ever done. But we were assessing the quality of our lives and how happy we were, and we didn’t want to wait for retirement to make the move. Before folc, I struggled to understand passion at work. Now I totally get it. Folc is tangible, it’s ours. So, yes, sometimes it’s tough, but absolutely no regrets.”
Folc made its first wine in 2019 and is part of a new wave of producers which don’t own their own vineyards, so source from a variety of growers across the UK.
Production is still relatively small – just 15,000 bottles a year, but with plans to double production in 2023 and start a round of fund raising, they have plans for big but balanced growth.
Sustainable Wines GB (SWGB) has a code of practice and Folc’s contract winery is accredited with SWGB’s scheme. Amongst a list of targets and regular assessments, energy & water conservation is not a ‘nice to have’, but rather a must have. They’d like to be organic, but with just 5% of English vineyards farming organically they are not able to source organic grapes, yet.
They have looked closely at their packaging – and acted. It’s a fine balance. Rosé is still very much about beautiful bottles and good packaging, but heavy glass bottles are not sustainable. Folc’s 2021 came in an attractive, distinctively designed clear glass bottle – but it was on the heavier side.
“Whilst our customers only ever praised the design, with the growing ethos being to remove unnecessarily heavy wine bottles, we did get questioned on this a few times”, explains Tom, “so we knew that to maintain our sustainability integrity we had to change the bottle.” This year’s vintage is bottled in much lighter, 94% recycled glass.
In the UK we consume 11% of all rose in the world. In the summer of ‘22 heatwave, Majestic reportedly sold a bottle of it every 12 seconds. Tom sees this trend growing. Looking ahead to the industry in 5 years’ time he predicts that more producers will be making English still rosé, the quality will continue to improve and there will be international acclaim for our cool climate style. It’s Tom and Elisha’s ambition for Folc to be at the forefront of this growth.
Folc is unashamedly not wine geeky. It’s a drink named after people for people – expertly blended for easy drinking. In their own words: “it’s for the hazy summer days spent with friends; the picnics that last beyond sundown, the al fresco dinners that last beyond dessert.”
What could be better than that?
Folc’s Rosé 2022 appears in a brand new, lighter and more sustainable bottle, made from 94% ‘wild’ (recycled) glass – and it confirms our feeling that Folc is going to be one of England’s biggest rosé brands.
If you love rosés from Provence like Whispering Angel or Minuty, this is the one for you to try. It is light, fresh, dry and easy drinking. It offers deliciously delicate red berry fruit, it’s that perfectly pale Provence colour, and it’s seriously sippable! Stick it in an ice bucket at lunchtime and you can watch the whole afternoon slip blissfully by.
So forget about the south of France. This summer it’s all about the south of England.
Want to know more about English rosé? Check out these 5 Provence-style English rosés, and join the Marasby mailing list to be kept up to date with everything #britishdelicious
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