English wine. Two words many used to think didn’t go together. But with English fizz becoming recognised around the world, maybe it’s time to take another look – or at least another sip.
So we got in touch with our friend Sean Tennyson, Marketing Manager at Boutinot. They supply wine to restaurants and retailers around the world, and with a portfolio of over 1400 wines they’ve a great nose (badum tish!) for wine knowledge.
Now we’re all about bigging up Britain, but Sean explains that there’s a big difference between British and English wines. British wine made from imported grape juice so it’s nowhere near as good. “It’s like buying grape juice from the supermarket and adding yeast,” is how Sean puts it!
English wines are made the traditional way, with grapes that have grown in UK vineyards. It all sounds so romantic but it means it tastes amazing too. Sean tells us wine has been produced in England for centuries but only in commercially viable quantities for the last 20 years or so. And the UK now boasts over 2,000 hectares of vines – that’s a lot of grapes.
It’s great new for wine lovers! Especially those who like sparkling wines made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – these are the grapes that enjoy the cool climate and clay soils we share with the Champagne region of France. And there are some excellent still wines from Pinot Noir and lesser-known grape varieties that prefer our cooler climate too (like Seyval Blanc and Reichensteiner).
English wine is finally finding its feet and getting the recognition it deserves. We’re pleased to say it’s becoming known for its serious quality and unique style – a bit like us! So we took on the tough task of trying some English wines – and have put together a few of our faves.
Henners Brut 2010
The 2010 vintage of this superb sparkling wine won Gold – yes, gold! – at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2016.
It’s a great celebration wine, so have a party to celebrate it! And you can spout your in-depth English wine knowledge. Like the fact ‘Henners’ is made by former Formula 1 engineer Lawrence Warr, who followed his dream to produce exceptional English sparkling wine. He called it ‘Henners’ after a French ancestor of his who fled to the UK from Paris during the French Revolution. We’re very grateful he did!
Hambledon Vineyard Classic Cuvée, NV
Pour yourself a glass of a lively dry wine from England’s oldest commercial vineyard. It’s got an apple and pastry taste – what could be more classically British than apple pie! It’s a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir – three grape varieties that grow particularly well in the UK.
Halfpenny Green Vineyards Tom Hill
Proving it’s not just the South-East that does wine well, this beautifully balanced tipple hails from Staffordshire. It’s great value at around £12.50 a bottle and greatest of all, is best enjoyed at around 12 C. (That’s a typical English summer, isn’t it? – or just an hour or so in the fridge!)
It’s great to hear English wines are finally getting the global recognition they deserve, and our sparkling wines particularly. With over 450 vineyards, 130 awards, 3 million bottles and £100million of sales, there are plenty more English wines to choose from. Sample a few to find your favourite, then raise a glass to home-grown quality. And we know the perfect place to sit and enjoy it… Cheers!