Put the Champagne aside in favour of a bottle of homegrown fizz this Sparkling Wine Week
IT’S no secret English sparkling wine is giving Champagne a run for its money. British winemakers continue to beat their French counterparts at international awards and blind tastings both here and in France have seen the UK’s wines come out on top.
Indeed, when Kent winemaker Chapel Down held a blind tasting last month (JUNE) for English Wine Week, serving its sparkling wine to French consumers under the playful guise of ‘Chapelle en Bas’ (a literal brand translation of Chapel Down), 60 per cent of consumers preferred Chapel Down to Champagne. Yet, according to Wine Intelligence, Brits continue to drink nearly three times as much Champagne than English sparkling wine.
As we celebrate Sparkling Wine Week during the first week in July, break the mould with one of these newly-released bottles of bubbly from Britain.
ENGLISH SPARKLING WINES TO TOAST SPARKLING WINE WEEK
The newest release from the Hampshire-based vineyard – the oldest commercial vineyard in England – follows from last year’s Première Cuvée, which was launched to coincide with Hambledon’s 70th anniversary.
This latest release was launched from Henry’s Townhouse, a charming boutique hotel of just six bedrooms, which sits behind the unassuming door of a Georgian façade on Upper Maryleybone Street in London. The interiors of the property have been inspired by Jane Austen’s favourite brother, Henry, who lived at the address in the 18th century – and there truly couldn’t have been a more fitting venue for the launch.
Served alongside a quintessential afternoon tea, the Première Cuvée Rosé has been made using the Saignée method, which involves ‘bleeding’ off a portion of red wine, giving it a striking deep pink hue and is non-vintage although largely based on grapes from 2016.
Rich with raspberry and orange on the blossom on the nose, the palate is layered with pastry notes thanks to an extended time in the bottle (around six years) but somehow manages to retain an essence of chalky minerality that is so indicative of Hambledon’s terroir.
Having just picked up the Sparkling Wine Trophy for its 2018 Blancs de Noir at the International English Wine Awards, it’s exciting to see how Busi Jacobsohn’s final release from this standout vintage has turned out.
The Blanc de Blancs is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes grown on a small private vineyard estate in Eridge, East Sussex, (the home of Susanna Busi-Jacobsohn and her husband Douglas) and has enjoyed 44 months development on its lees.
The result in an elegant wine that is light golden in colour and generous with aromas of lemon sherbet, honey and toasted brioche, while the palate is soft and rounded with plenty of citrus notes, a touch of toasted nuts and a delicate mousse adding to the layers of complexity.
Golden in colour, with an inviting rich nose with plenty of autolysis notes and clean fresh fruit with a lime, gooseberry and raspberry palate and ripe balanced finish, the hotly-anticipated first wine to be released under the Sandridge Barton label, does not disappoint.
The debut wine under this premier collection from the makers behind Sharpham Wines, in South Devon, has already been recognised as one of the finest sparkling wines in the world, having won a Master Medal at the Global Sparkling Masters 2023.
The judging panel made of masters of wine and master sommeliers from across the globe. taste the wines blind and only award medals to wines which are outstanding examples of type – them must show impeccable winemaking, demonstrate a wonderful texture, perfect balance and a broad range of delicious, persistent flavours.
Duncan Schwab, CEO and head winemaker at Sandridge Barton, comments: “It’s a cracking wine and we are extremely proud to receive a Master Medal and are delighted to introduce it to our range of English wines, which has now grown to over 15 wines.”
Bruce and Sibylla Tindale have been producing exceptional English sparkling wine from their 1-acre boutique vineyard in the Surrey Hills for the past 15 years and have won numerous awards to show for it.
Producing just one sparkling wine each vintage, the South African couple’s focus is on quality not quantity and this year’s release, The Gloriana Cuvée from the prestige vintage of 2018 has already picked up Silver at the Decanter Awards.
A golden hue with a floral nose of rose and elderflower that continues on the palate together with peach and a crisp citrus acidity to balance the flavours. Always an outstanding expression of English sparkling wine, High Clandon’s latest release can be enjoyed while walking through the beautiful estate’s gardens and sculpture exhibition, which takes place until July 16. There is a recommended entry donation of £7, which goes to Cherry Trees charity.