English Sparkling Wine
It would be rude not to give it a try!
At a couple of our recent blind sparkling wine tastings, participants voted for their favourite wine of the evening and in both instances English Sparkling Wine came out on top, pushing aside certain well-known and reputable vintage and non-vintage champagne brands (not stocked by Wines With Attitude). This might come as a surprise to you as it did to most of those participants but the fact is that English wine in general and English sparkling wine in particular just keeps getting better and better.
The main reason English sparkling wine is proving to be such a hit? Essentially because it is Champagne by another name - here are some of the main similarities between the two, six reasons why you should give it a try:
The ridge of chalk known as the Kimmeridgian Chain upon which the Champagne region lies extends up via the White Cliffs of Dover through the vineyards of Southern England. These limestone chalky soils not only create good drainage (useful in a rainy environment) but also contribute to the minerality in Champagne and English Sparkling Wine.
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, the three main grapes permitted in Champagne, account for 50% of total grape plantings in England & Wales. Other grape varieties are permitted in the two regions but both generally prefer to stick to the three classic sparkling wine varieties.
Nevertheless a little sunshine also helps the grapes reach ripeness and with global warming England has benefited whilst Champagne has "suffered" with some recent vintages such as 2009 which were considered simply too hot.
Aromas & Flavours
The great news is that because of all above similarities, English Sparkling Wine tastes and smells on the whole like Champagne. There are the distinct bready and nutty flavours that come from the secondary fermentation and ageing plus the citrus, apple and marzipan flavours from the similar grape mix, the low-ish alcohol levels and the high acidity which make it a crisp and refreshing tipple.
Price - ££
And the downside...
One of the main disadvantages in our view - apart from the youth of the industry and the vines in England and Wales - is that the term English Sparkling Wine is just not as catchy as Champagne; attempts a few years ago to rename English Sparkling Wine "Britagne" have fallen as flat as a three day old glass of Champagne!
We're not the only ones in favour of English Sparkling Wine
With thanks to English Wine Producers for some of the facts and figures used in this blog.
© Wines With Attitude Limited, www.wineswithattitude.co.uk
Lindsay Cornelissen DipWSET is passionate about good quality wine and set up her online wine business, Wines With Attitude, to share that passion with other wine lovers.
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