England Beyond Bubbles

We all, by now, know that England makes very good (occasionally great) sparkling wine.

And that’s all well and good. But what’s potentially even more exciting is the emergence of world-class English still wines – particularly those made from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. 

Burgundy lovers (ie most wine drinkers) will of course be keen to monitor this progress very carefully. Particularly since that region is suffering from years of spring frosts, hail and other climatic calamities that make those wines ever shorter in supply and more expensive as a result. 

The elephant in the room is climate change.

This is made very explicit in a fascinating recent report by Dr Alistair Nesbitt (et al) predicting that climate change will see English red wine becoming the norm rather than the exception as part of a global shift that will upend the world’s wine map as we know it.

We did a parallel podcast on this, in which you can hear from Dr Nesbitt as well as the views from the vineyards, including Gusbourne’s Charlie Holland, Balfour’s Fergus Elias, Tillingham’s Ben Walgate and Adrian Pike of Westwell. You can listen to the podcast here:

You can also read a copy of Dr Nesbitt’s paper via this link – Climate change predictions for UK viticulture to 2040: a focus on improving suitability for Pinot Noir.

My article in Decanter recommends the best grape varieties for English still wines, and recaps on the highs and lows of recent vintages.

Research for the piece not only involved a road trip round English wine country but also incorporated one of the biggest and most detailed comparative tastings of quality English still wines we’ve done (see photos).

As a result of this, I whittled the very best wines down to just eight recommendations in the article – including wines from Danbury Ridge, Lyme Bay, Castlewood, Chapel Down, Balfour, Gusbourne and Wiston.

[England Beyond Bubbles appeared in Decanter magazine’s Christmas 2022 edition – you can also find it on the Decanter website]

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