Monday, 25 April 2011

Get patriotic for the Royal Wedding with some fantastic English sparkling wines

English wines are enjoying a bit of a renaissance at present. With increased focus on quality, many wineries have invested heavily in brand new equipment and experienced wine makers from abroad. They are starting to grub up their strange German grape varietals, such as Müller-Thurgau, Reichensteiner and Seyval blanc, which were planted in the 80’s and 90’s and have planted on international varietals like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, amongst others. Sparkling wine production is particularly on the way up. It is somewhat of a forte for England, as there is less than a degree of latitude between Eastbourne and Reims and much of the South East of England share the same sub soils as Champagne. This combined with fact that, in the UK, we are actually benefiting from the effects of global warming, all help to explain why English Sparkling wine quality is so high. Here are a few of my picks to toast to Prince William and Princess Catherine this Friday:

Nyetimber Blanc de Blanc 2001 - £31.25 at Berry Brothers and Rudd

This International Wine Challenge Gold medal winner exudes lemon and baked apple fruit with subtle notes of jasmine and a long, fine marzipan and vanilla finish. It has all the elegance and sophistication of Kate Middleton’s wedding dress.
Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 2005 - £23.99 9 (down from £29.99) at Waitrose

Another great wine from the Nyetimber Vineyards. This is a classic blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. It is made entirely from the juices of the first pressing, making this wine very pure and powerful. It has distinct patisserie like cakiness and is packed with ripe summer fruits like cantaloupe and juicy apricots.

Ridgeview Grosvenor Blanc de Blancs 2007 - £23.95 at Berry Brothers and Rudd

The Sussex Downs continue to provide a rich seam of inspiration for the patriotic fizz drinker, their geological make-up informed by the same Portlandian sub-strata as Champagne itself, and their winemakers now assuming the confidence to exploit this happy coincidence. Although not memorable for its mid-summer warmth, 2007 was in fact a reasonable vintage in the UK, helped immeasurably by generally above-average temperatures in the Autumn, allowing these premium Chardonnay grapes to ripen..The Grosvenor marries citric with tropical fruit on the nose, and has gentle flavours, which put one in mind of entering the Pâtisserie on a Spring day. Refreshing and with fine and dignified bubbles, this, once again, is a very impressive effort.
(Simon Field MW, BBR Buyer, January 2011)

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