It’s fair to say that some of us have been a little embarrassed to be English of late for oh, so many reasons. What better time then to sing the praises of one of our greatest – and increasingly fantastic – exports: English sparkling wine.
You may have heard about the rise of English fizz; you may still be sceptical, but having kept a close eye on the industry over the last sixteen years, I can tell you that we’ve now, officially, nailed it.
Our relatively new English wine industry has observed the successes and failures of hundreds of years of winemaking globally, waiting patiently until the time was right; until temperatures had increased just enough to put England on a par climatically with the world’s most famous sparkling wine-producing region. In some parts of the English south coast, the soils are almost identical to those of the Côte des Blancs in Champagne.
Couple that with an almost identical climate in places, the same grape varieties, same ‘traditional method’ used, cutting edge equipment, experienced winemakers and vines that are finally coming of age and you’ll see precisely how we are now creating world-class bubbles to rival Champagne and in some cases, dare I say it, outclass it.
The best way to learn about wine is to taste it, so here are a few of the biggest names in English sparkling wine that you absolutely need to know, along with some of their more exclusive, limited-edition wine offerings to seek out.
Jenkyn Place Blanc de Blancs 2015 – Hampshire
If you’re looking for quintessentially English charm, Jenkyn Place, owned by the Bladon family in the North Hampshire Downs, has it in spades. While the family has been making wine with the classic Champagne grapes (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) since their first vines were planted in 2004, this ‘blanc de blancs’ (with sparkling wines, this usually means made with 100% Chardonnay) is the very first Chardonnay-only wine, thanks to the exceptional quality of the harvest; they didn’t want to blend it!
Think ultra-fresh citrus balanced by ripe orchard fruit and shortbread notes with rich, creamy bubbles. An elegant English rose of a wine.
RRP £38 from www.jenkynplace.com and Victoria Rose Wines