In recent years, England is frequently being recognised as a premium wine producer and the wines have swiftly risen in popularity.
The most commonly seen grape varieties are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, which are typical of Champagne, but there are also excellent examples of Ortega and Bacchus to be found. Whilst there are vineyards across England, the climate in the South East, especially Kent and Sussex, is particularly favourable for making elegant sparkling wines.
Although on the fringes of the wine producing regions of the world, England’s long summer days allow for maximum ripening of the grapes, ensuring strong fruit flavours and the chalk and flint soil, characteristic of our region, lends the wine its minerality.
The closest comparable to English Sparkling wine is Champagne, made using the same method. Earlier this year, a team from the Wine and Spirit Trade Association travelled to Paris to hold a blind tasting of the wines. They invited an elite group of Parisians from the highest ranks in the hospitality trade. The result? English sparkling wine scored better in two out of three categories, and it drew with Champagne in the other. While in December 2015, Champagne house Taittinger announced that it would be acquiring a vineyard in Kent to produce an English Sparking wine.
Finally, 2016 was a record-breaking year for English wines. In the International Wine Challenge 2016, 120 medals were awarded to English wine producers, a significant rise from last years 94 medals.