#newwinethisweek Week 21 – English Sparkling Wine

English wine week

We didn’t need an excuse to go for English fizz but we thought it was appropriate to wait for English Wine Week to unveil our second fizz on #newwinethisweek. English Sparkling Wine has gone from strength to strength over the past decade but the reality is that England has a long and rich history of bubbly production. It is claimed that Christopher Merrett, a 17th century cider maker from Gloucester, first devised the fermentation method which gives champagne its sparkle as well as inventing the hefty bottles that are needed to prevent the highly pressurised liquid from exploding… Whether its true or not, it certainly leads to plenty of debate in the wine world!

At the beginning of 2010, English Sparkling Wine was again the talk of the wine community when Nyetimber‘s Classic Cuvée 2003 from Sussex, was named best bubbly on the planet, beating off competition from the greatest Champagne houses at the World Sparkling Wine Championships in Verona. And the awards have kept on coming, with wines from Camel Valley, Gurbourne, Chapel Down and many other producers claiming major prizes at the most prestigious wine competitions.

English Sparkling Wine

So what makes England such a great place for producing sparkling wine? To begin with, the vineyards of Kent and West Sussex are less than 100 miles north of Champagne and share the same chalky soils as the famous French fields. Climate change has also been beneficial to England, particularly the southern counties, allowing for a longer ripening season and better quality fruit. The soil, the climate, increased experience and the adoption of the very latest technologies have all come together in wonderful unison to produce some of the very best Sparkling Wine available anywhere in the world.

The grapes used for English Sparkling Wines are predominately the famous varieties grown in Champagne: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and, less so, Pinot Meunier. The other variety making a name for itself is the early ripening Seyval Blanc which produces wines with a delightful combination of citrus and minerality.

 

Luckily for us, it also appears the UK supermarkets are realising there is plenty of demand for English wine so there are options available to us all on our weekly shop:

Denbies Broadwoods Folly English Sparkling NV, Surry, England (Tesco £17.99)

Chapel Down NV Vintage Reserve, Kent, England (Waitrose £15.29 was £20.99)

Nyetimber Vintage Traditional Method 2008, Sussex (Waitrose £31.99)

Ridgeview Merret Bloomsbury 2011, Sussex (Waitrose £24.99)

Chapel Down English Sparkling Rosé NV, Kent (M&S £22.00)

But if you want to choose from the best range on English Sparkling wines then get yourself down to The Wine Pantry at Borough Market, where you can pick up my favourite bottle of English fizz:

Camel Valley Chardonnay Brut 2009, Cornwall (The Wine Pantry £31.00)

 

So celebrate English Wine Week in style and tell us how you rate English Sparkling Wine… it’s going to be a great week!

 

 

 

 

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Posted on May 26, 2014, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Reblogged this on Please Bring Me My Wine and commented:
    Thanks to Ant for kicking us off on English Wine Week!

  2. johncstevens

    I’ve got a guilty confession to make-I’m not a particularly big fan of sparkling wine. I just don’t get it like I don’t get David Bowie. It’s not that I haven’t tried to like them both over the years but I just don’t see what the fuss is all about?!! I know that’s downright blasphemy for Musos or Winos to hear but there it is. I’ve said it now. I feel liberated!

    The thing is, I love everything associated with sparkling wine, or more specifically champagne, but I just struggle to appreciate it as I would a fine Burgundy for example. I love the celebratory connotations it has, and the theatre of cork popping and the drunken toasting that normally ensues but I just struggle to enjoy more than a glass or two.

    The exception to this rather sweeping statement has been a bottle of 2000 Dom Perignon I shared with friends last NYE. I had never experienced the pure biscuit, yeasty characteristics before and it was truly wonderful, but I have never found anything remotely close in quality before or since unfortunately.

    In the true spirit of #newwinethisweek I thought I should test myself and try to find the passion for sparklers that so many others share, so I bought a bottle of the Chapel Down English Sparkling Reserve from M & S for £22.

    In appearance it’s a pretty pale lemon colour with delicate and tiny bubbles which is always promising. There’s a decent amount of floral aromas on the nose, can’t quite pinpoint which though, and an ever so slight bouquet of dry McVities Digestives. The most striking aspect on the palate is the huge smack of acidity which lingers for ages after the bubbles have dissipated. It has a scintillating mouth feel which tickles and teases your tongue but lacks any real complexity. After reading the back label I think I can detect some red apple notes on the length but that would be too easy!!

    So, I’m not exactly a convert to all things bubbly just yet but, in my limited experience, this English version is more than a match for its French counterparts in the same price range, especially considering that it’s been made in the traditional method.

    A patriotic but misunderstood 6/10. (Now I’m off to listen to ‘Let’s Dance’ again)

    • Well I never… I must admit I’m a fan of a glass or 2 then its on to the real stuff for me too! My aha moment also came with Dom Perignon (99 for me) but I do love Camel Valley’s Chardonnay Brut… gentle yet oh so complex.

      Thanks again for a great review John!

  3. For English Fizz week I decide to go for one I know and a bargain from Waitrose:

    I was up in Marlow this weekend for a reservation at the marvellous Hand & Flowers with my parents so I took up a bottle of fizz from one of my very favourite English producers to enjoy as an aperitif… and it didn’t let me down (my wife and my mother also enjoyed a delightful glass of Balfour rosé at the restaurant!).

    Sharpham Sparkling Pink 2009 (@£25 direct from the vineyard)

    A combination of Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir and Seyval Blanc with a delightful salmon colour. This is such a fun sparkling rosé wine made in the traditional method and is dry as a bone. The wine is ever so bright with wild strawberry and crushed raspberry fruit on the nose and palate, with refreshing citrus acidity and a hint of elderberry. The sun was shining and so did the wine, very good indeed. 8/10

    I can’t think of a better match for any fizz than good old fish & chips, so what could be better than Sunday fish supper with a bottle of Chapel Down Brut Reserve, on offer at £15.99 from Waitrose:

    Made with the Champagne trinity of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, the Chapel Down has a lovely colour with the slightest hint of peach in the glass. The aromas are very yeasty/brioche nose and sweet red apples. The palate is very dry and just lacking a touch in acidity but the sweet apples and notes of pastry come through reminiscent of a NV Champagne. The wine comes to it’s own with yeasty batter and is very. Great value for a methode traditional wine at £15.99. 7/10

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