Wine expert and TV presenter Helena Nicklin chooses eight English Sparkling Wines that are sure to make this Christmas an extra special one.
A lot has changed in the English wine world over the last few years. Firstly, there was a move away from the more esoteric Germanic grapes such as Madeleine Angevine and Ortega towards the higher value, cool-climate grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Next came the sparkling wine revolution, with fizz made in the ‘classic’ method (as we now call it in the UK), with the same grapes as Champagne and on terroirs very similar to those of the lauded French region. This is the style that put England on the map, but it hasn’t stopped there.
World-class dry, still wines are carving out their place on the shelves along with natural wines, orange wines, sweet wines, Charmat method sparklers (like Prosecco) and this week, we have even seen the launch of a brand new ‘nouveau’ style à la Beaujolais. More on that soon but in short, English wines are rocking it.
Against this backdrop of England becoming an exciting, varied, new world wine region, it is clear that one style has become our flagship style: classic method sparkling wine. Made in the same way as Champagne, wines from England and Wales will now be referred to as ‘classic method’ rather than ‘traditional method’ with the long term aim of every bottle of fizz having their production method on the label.
We will soon see a ‘classic method’ logo appear on bottles of English and Welsh sparkling wine too, a sign that what’s in the bottle has been made according to the exacting, intensive, high-quality methods used. Chairman of WineGB, Simon Robinson says this:
“Our sparkling wines… remain at the forefront of our industry and are driving sales both here and overseas. This campaign has set us on the path to ensure that our classic method wines are more positively recognized among the finest wine regions of the world.”
As we spend more time at home and pledge to buy local, what better moment than now to support such a delicious, homegrown industry? Here’s my pick of some recently released, luxurious, modern classics to crack this festive season along with some suggestions for how to drink them.