I’ve always loved bubbles, but I must admit, I haven’t always been fussy. In fact, when I first moved to London eight years ago, a £5 bottle of Tesco Cava did the trick, not that there’s anything wrong with that… These days, well, my income stretches a little further and let’s just say, like a fine wine, my taste buds have improved with age.
With Cava and Prosecco leading the price point charge at an average of £8-£9 a bottle and even other new world sparkling wines such as New Zealand’s Oyster Bay Sparkling Cuvée Brut coming in at the £14 price mark, it’s difficult to make a case for English bubbles that typically command prices above £20 and really, closer to £25, a bottle.
So, why should we drink it?
#1 English sparkling wines are winning medal after medal.
#2 It’s similar to Champagne in so many ways, with the method of production (bottle fermented), the grapes used (mainly Pinot Noir and Chardonnay), the cool climate (great for freshness and acidity) and the chalky soils (providing good drainage) all contributing to give that Champagne ‘je ne sais quoi’ – and who doesn’t love Champagne?
#3 In fact, English fizz is so good that even the French themselves are eyeing it up – with some Champagne houses already buying land in the English countryside.
#4 You’re almost guaranteed quality – where an £8 bottle of Prosecco could be a bit hit and miss, English bubbles are generally pretty consistent.
#5 Production is still relatively small and the focus is on quality over quantity, so you get the sense you’re drinking something somewhat niche, which, admittedly, doesn’t help the price tag.
#6 Last, but not least, to support a fledgling industry and one that’s not easy at the best of times, due to external factors such as variable weather patterns – think of all those growers and winemakers that put so much energy and passion into producing something that gives us so much joy.
So which one should I try, you ask? Well, here are a few that I think are pretty awesome:
Jenkyn Place Brut, rrp £25
Full of ripe red apple finished with a touch of creamy, buttery brioche. This sparkling has an immensely smooth, foamy mousse. Drink it now or keep it for another couple of years for those secondary flavours to further develop. A nice, easy drinker that will suit any occasion.
Davenport Limney Estate Sparkling rrp £25
While I haven’t tried this wine myself, I have it on good advice from my fizz drinking friend this wine is an absolute corker and it’s organic! The 2010 is a crisper style than the 2009 with more fruitiness than yeastiness, but go for the 2009 if you prefer something a little more mature.
Bolney Estate Briar Rosé Sparkling, rrp £25
More of a blush than a rosé, this sparkling packs more punch than its pale pink colour lets on. After 36 months on lees, the fruit character remains strong with red fruits dominant – raspberries, redcurrant, and maybe even some rhubarb. There’s also a hint of freshly baked pastry. A lovely bottle for an English summer’s day.
Written by Katherine Chivers