English Wine Week
Everyone will no doubt be aware that the climax of the celebrations to mark the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II will take place over the long weekend starting on 2nd June. But how many of you also know that English Wine Week also starts on Saturday 2nd June?
Come to that, how much do you know about English wine? I present English wines at some of my own wine tasting events, and even when I don’t I am often asked questions about it, so there is a general awareness and interest. Perhaps you saw the recent episode of The Apprentice where the challenge was to produce a marketing campaign for English Sparkling Wine. Or maybe you read that English wine was served at the Royal Wedding last April ..... or that English wine won some prestigious awards at last year’s International Wine Challenge (IWC).
The fact is that we do produce some very high quality wine in England and Wales, and the picture is improving year on year. There are now some 419 registered vineyards - of which 120 have their own wineries - located primarily in the southern counties of the two countries. About 40 years ago, when the industry was in its infancy, the trend was to produce fruity-flavoured still white wines, and while this style is still very well exploited, the focus is now very much on sparkling wine and in particular that made from the classic grape varieties (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meurnier).
Our cool climate - at least in viticultural terms - presents its own challenges, but it is also highly beneficial when it comes to producing sparkling wine. It is no coincidence that the most prestigious French sparkling wines come from Champagne, the coldest wine making region in that country, and it is to England’s advantage that the same chalky soils found in Champagne are also present in south-east England.
So where can you buy English wines? Locally, Mark at The Larder keeps a stock of wines from the excellent Chapel Down winery at Tenterden in Kent (their sparkling Rosé Vintage Reserve Brut won a Gold Medal at the 2011 IWC and the white Vintage Reserve Brut a Silver Medal this year).
Some supermarkets do now sell English wines so keep an eye on the Sparkling and White shelves (Denbies Chalk Ridge Rosé was the only rosé wine from any country to win an IWC Top Award, and Nyetimber sparkling wines are much sought after). Just off the M25 near London Colney, Willows Farm Village shop often has a selection of English wines, or if you are travelling why not call in and visit and English vineyard – more details on the English Wine Web Site.
Clive Woodhouse is a local Wine Educator who runs Passion4Wine Ltd, a Wine Events and Consultancy business providing wine tastings and wine education services.
how much do you know about English wine? I present English wines at some of my own wine tasting events, and even when I don't I am often asked questions about it, so there is a general awareness and interest.