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English Sparkling Wine

16 January 2018

Today, merely uttering the word Brexit sets off a rabble of moans and groans, entering you in to a three-hour political debate, whilst sipping your wine at the pub. However, it seems that for English sparkling wine, Brexit might not be such a bad thing, in fact quite the opposite.

The weakness of sterling has pushed wine and champagne prices up and many consumers are sticking to their budgets. A bottle of champagne is around £30-35 on average (and rising), with English Sparkling wine around £25. This difference in price is encouraging regular champagne drinkers to look at alternatives,with English sparkling wine being a natural choice. The question is, can English sparkling wine hold its own against the well-established champagne brands?

My answer, and many industry-leading experts, is quite simply yes! The growing popularity of English wine led to a 40 per cent increase in applications to develop UK vineyards last year. There has been much growth in UK vineyards, it was reported that Taittinger bought hundreds of acres of land in the UK, almost unheard of for a Champagne house to do so. This iconic move shows the value placed on UK land, with warmer climates and impressive soils appealing to our friends across the Channel. Why is the industry showing such interest in producing sparkling wine in the UK?

It tastes fantastic! In several blind tastings, English sparkling wine has been holding its own against some of the big champagne houses. I love champagne and English sparkling wine, for me the taste of the latter is incredibly fresh, slightly fruitier and with lots of green apple notes. Some favourite producers for me are Chapel Down, Nyetimber and Bolney Estate, in fact I am picturing those fast-moving bubbles and fresh taste now (foolishly I agreed to a dry January).

I spoke with Mark Harvey, the Managing Director of Chapel Down, who said the following:

“Whilst Sparkling Wine overall is faring well, English Sparkling Wine in particular is leading the trend and experiencing record levels of growth. Cool climate wines are in vogue. Consumers understand the challenges of producing wines in these conditions and appreciate the consistently high quality these regions can deliver and are prepared to pay a premium. Historically, Champagne has been the shining example and now England has been delivering world class wines too in recent years and we are excited to see the response as more and more consumers are surprised and delighted by the quality of our home-grown produce”.

What are your thoughts on this growing trend? Would you choose English sparkling wine over Champagne? What are some of your favourites at the moment?

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!

Geti n touch now to discuss your future in the wine industry:

Oliver Griffiths - Senior Consultant - Wine
Oliver.griffiths@newchapter.co.uk / 0203 709 8900

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