I like to call it as I see it, and I’m going to call this one: sparkling English wine is poised to become the next big thing. Why? Many factors. Mainly, the rising cost of French Champagne and global warming has led to the search for the next region that can deliver the finesse of Champagne. Enter an unlikely contender, England!
It’s no secret that the English like their bubbly. In fact, the UK is the biggest export market for Champagne, and the numbers continue to grow. So, they certainly have the demand for more sparkling wine. The climate (cold, wet) in centuries past has not been able to sustain quality winemaking, but all of that is changing with increased temps and longer growing seasons. Most of the fine winemaking that is happening today is South of London, near the white cliffs of Dover, which happens to be the exact same vein of chalky soil that runs through Champagne and Chablis, only 150 miles to the east.
Grape-growing and winemaking began in earnest in the 70’s, around the same time that Napa took off. With an emphasis on the classic Champagne grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, there are currently around 150 producers. So while still small, I think very promising.
DEP’s stocks 2 different English Brut’s, give them a try and see what you think! (Pairing suggestion: Fish and Chips, obviously)
Hush Heath Estate Balfour 1503 Cuvee Brut ($35.99)
Mostly Pinot Noir, a well-made wine with a fresh mousse and crisp acidity. There’s lemon balm, white flower and green apple notes.
Hattingley Valley Estate Cuvee ($38.99)
A key element of our style is the subtle use of oak barrels to ferment a small proportion of the wines each year as well as ageing on lees in stainless steel tanks. This softens the wines before they go into bottles for the second fermentation.