The Rise and Rise of English Sparkling Wine

We’ve known it for a while – but it seems the secret’s out. English Sparkling Wine is a hit.

Sales were up over Christmas 2015 and experts are predicting that 2016 will see even greater growth.

To keep up with demand, production has also had to increase. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs have cited a 103.2% increase in the production volume of English and Welsh sparkling wines between 2010 and 2014.

So keen is the interest in English wine that the renowned Champagne brand Taittinger has announced plans to produce it’s own English wine after buying land in Kent.

Awareness of English wine is also on the rise thanks to a series of high profile sponsorship deals. From the Nyetimber sponsorship of Cowes Week to Wimbledon offering an English Sparkling wine, there will be no shortage of English wines this summer. Virgin have even switched from offering Champagne to Meonhill Sparkling Wine from the Hambledon Vineyard on their 787 Dreamliners.

So whether you’re messing about on the river, watching a spot of tennis or flying first class, you’ll not be far from a glass of English sparkling wine.

If you are interested in finding out more, be sure to check out English Wine Week organised by the English Wine Producers. The week runs from 28th May to 5th June 2016 and features events across the country to highlight to brilliance of English wines. For more information see, http://www.englishwineproducers.co.uk/

Alternatively, if you fancy sampling English Wine but can’t wait for English Wine Week, you can have us deliver a bottle of our excellent Coates & Seely English sparkling wine direct to your door.

For more information see:

English Wine Week

If someone had suggested 20 years ago, that English Wine would be celebrated – you may well have thought they’d had one too many. However, English Wine Week has arrived and there’s a lot to celebrate!

The English and Welsh Wine industry has steadily been growing in both size and reputation. There are over 470 vineyards and 135 wineries in England and Wales producing both sparkling and still wines. In 2013, around 1,880 hectares of land were devoted to the growing of vines (the equivalent of 2,645 full size football pitches) producing 4.5 million bottles of wine (enough to fill the London Aquarium 3 times).

The UK wine industry is now recognised as a premium wine-producing region. English Sparkling Wines won three trophies and 14 Gold awards at the 2015 International Wine Awards.

Furthermore, a number of English and Welsh wines now boast EU Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographic Indication (PDI) status. These labels indicate that the product possess certain qualities or enjoys a certain reputation due to its geographical origin, such as Melton Mowbray pork pies. Wines carrying these special labels have passed certain taste and analytical parameters. The producers must also prove the geographical origins of the grapes. PDO wines comply with more stringent rules on the origin of their grapes than PGI wines.

English Wine Week runs between 23rd May and 31st May 2015. The English Wine Producers are organising a whole host of events to celebrate everything about English Wine. For more information and to join in the celebrations, see here!

Image courtesy of English Wine Producers.

Another Glass Of Sussex Please!

Sussex is famous for many things. The Royal Pavilion at Brighton, the Long Man of Wilmington, and Bodiam Castle (pictured). Its is also (weirdly) where banoffee pie was first created in 1972. If these things are not enough to show Sussex as exemplary, then why not Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) status for it’s wines?

A few days ago Decanter Magazine reported that English wine producers are making a bid to obtain PDO status for wineries in Sussex. PDO would bring them the same protected status as wines from Champagne.

PDO is the most prestigious of the three geographical indications offered by the European Union for the protection and promotion of agricultural products. The other two are Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), and Traditional Specialities Guaranteed (TSG).

PDO is the strictest designation. It states that a product has been entirely produced within a region that gives the product unique properties. For example, beef produced wholly on Orkney has PDO status and can be labelled as Orkney beef. Beef produced in Scotland, including from Orkney, has PGI status and is labelled Scotch beef. So If the beef comes from cows raised in Orkney, but is prepared in the Outer Hebrides, it can only have Scotch beef PGI status as it wasn’t wholly produced on Orkney.

The UK already has 65 products with protected status. Far less than Portugal (125), France (217) and Italy (267). If successful, Sussex wine would join PDO holders such as Native Shetland Wool, Jersey Royal Potatoes and our favourite cheese, Swaledale. Given that English wine has already been granted a PDO, what advantage does a Sussex PDO designation bring?

Well, English wine may be enjoying its most successful years, but presumably it’s easier to market Sussex sparkling wine rather than English sparkling wine. For example, ordering a bottle of Sussex in a restaurant sounds more pleasing than ordering a bottle of English…

And why not have a go! English sparkling wines have been racking up the awards. In the 2014 International Wine Challenge competition they were awarded 5 gold medals and two trophies. Obtaining PDO status would be another big boost to the reputation of wines produced in Sussex, and England in general.

It is perhaps debatable how the varying landscape of Sussex can be realistically expected to imbue the geographical characteristics a PDO is meant to guarantee. But with the English wine retail sector forecast to hit £100m this year, and the number of wineries in the UK at an all time high, this latest PDO is clear evidence of a confident market.

Interestingly Nyetimber, one of the most famous UK producers, has two thirds of its vineyards in Sussex and a third in Hampshire, and so would be excluded from applying the PDO designation to its’ products.

Image is “Bodiam-castle-10My8-1197” by WyrdLight.com. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Terroir and Changing Climate Behind English Sparkling Wine Success

We recently posted about the dramatic increase in English Wine Producers. What is driving the spectacular success of English Sparkling Wine?

The South East of England is well known for its’ countryside, castles and universities.

However, the qualities of its terroir (the fancy French word for land) are less well known.

The chalky soils of the Sussex Downs, formed some 60 million years ago, are the same as those in the Champagne region of France. During the Cretaceous period much of Northwestern Europe was covered in a shallow sea that left a thick chalky soil for today’s vineyards.

Chalk is soft limestone and very porous meaning that vine roots can more easily grow. It drains well and is best for grapes with high acidity levels used for Champagne and sparkling wines.

Sussex is the sunniest and warmest part of the UK. Unprecedented climate changes in the South-East has had the effect of increasing temperatures year on year for the last 20 years. The South-East now has a similar cool climate to Champagne, which lies on a latitude less than 100 miles to the south.

Previously hardier German grapes such as Reichensteiner and Riesling, more at home in the Rhine region of Germany, were prevalent across the South-East.

Thanks to changes in the weather the finer, more delicate Champagne grapes such as Chardonnay and Pinot Noir can now be correctly ripened.

Thanks to the combination of climate change and terroir, the South-East is producing sparkling wines that are arguably the finest in the world.

If you fancy learning more here’s a short clip from BBC Inside Out which explains more.

Image is of “Seven Sisters cliffs and the coastguard cottages, from Seaford Head showing Cuckmere Haven (looking east – 2003-05-26)” by Stephen Dawson, Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Number of British Wine Producers at 20 Year High

Global warming is arguably the most serious threat we have ever faced as a species. But in the short term maybe the warmer British summers are helping to sustain growth in one of the most universally ridiculed pursuits; the UK wine industry.

Nearly 50 new wine producers registered with the taxman this year, bringing the total to 135. Many producers are looking to cash in on a booming sparkling wine trend which at around £550 million this year is 15% higher than last year.

Alcohol in the UK is big business, valued at around £38 billion in 2013 with around £17 billion going to HMRC in excise duty and VAT.

Hopefully English Wine Week will be even better next year as a result! Its the last week of May 2015, don’t miss it!

If you have a favourite english sparkling wine we’d love to know what it is, comment or contact us.

Full story in The Guardian.

Featured image is “Vineyard at Wyken Hall – geograph.org.uk – 216836” by Bob Jones – From geograph.org.uk. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.