English sparkling wine moves on

After Susie helped plant the first vines on Champagne Taittinger’s brand new English wine estate in May 2017, she reflects in the pages of Decanter on how far and fast the category has moved on.

From being an emergent category just a decade or so ago, exports are now high on the agenda, with the US and Asia particularly promising.

New producers are emerging on the scene at a rate of knots and established players are diversifying their range not just with new top-of-the-line prestige cuvées but also non-vintage iterations of their larger volume wines. This latter phenomenon is an important evolution in English wine. It should help safeguard quality and ensure consistency, and is only possible after building up stocks of reserve wines from previous vintages to blend into the current year’s harvest – so a considerable investment of time and money.

In short, the English sparkling wine movement is gaining more and more traction. Royal support and investment from Champagne are telling validations. These aren’t cheap wines, but they have a point of difference and quality is undoubtedly there.

What’s more, tourism is another matter high on English producers’ agenda and many are now opening or developing facilities to welcome visitors. Kent’s Chapel Down, Cornwall’s Camel Valley and Surrey’s Denbies have long been leaders in this field but now others are realising how important it is to encourage people to visit, taste in situ and hopefully buy too. This is great news for those of us who like nothing better than to pop into a local vineyard, enjoy the surroundings and leave well stocked with home-grown refreshments.

All of which is well worth celebrating.

[Susie Barrie MW on English sparkling wine in Decanter magazine August 2017]

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