It’s no longer news that English wines are growing in stature with every passing year. Sparkling wines, especially, continue to set the pace and I was bowled over recently with the quality and consistency of the sparkling wines I tasted at the annual English Wine Producers’ event. But don’t just take my word for it - English wines have already scooped up plenty of medals at major competitions this year, with surely more to come.
Stories are circulating about a looming shortage of Prosecco, which I would take with a large pinch of salt, but if they do materialise, there is plenty of English fizz to fill the gap, with production up to 6.3 million bottles last year. And this figure will only rise, as more vineyards enter production.
Below are some old favourites and some new (to me at least) discoveries:
Hambledon Classic Cuvée NV – £29.95 from Berry Brothers
This Chardonnay dominated blend from Hampshire based Hambledon Vineyard combines complexity and linearity with delicious baked apple maturing Chardonnay character. It scooped a Gold Medal at the International Wine Challenge and that competition’s English Non Vintage trophy.
Another Hampshire vineyard, and all of whose wines I rate, has done well on the medal front – this also scored Gold at the International Wine Challenge. It is 90% Chardonnay, has lovely, long-lasting flavour and is, according to my tasting note, “quite delicious”.
High Clandon The Succession Cuvée 2009 – not commercially available
This is a bittersweet success story for Surrey-based, tiny producers Bruce and Sibylla Tindale. Their 1-acre vineyard has produced a wine judged worthy of a Gold medal at the International Wine Challenge (as well as Bronze at the Decanter World Wine Awards and Gold at the Sommelier Wine Awards) – but sadly, they have none available to sell as their stock was stolen from its bonded warehouse earlier this year. You can, however, get a taste of High Clandon, as the Tindales will be launching their 2010 Magna Carta Cuvée this month.