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Gold medal winning UK sparkling wine tasting

Gold medal winning UK sparkling wine tasting

We were proud to host the first ever English Sparkling Wine tasting at the Institute’s offices on Tuesday 4 December. In planning the event we decided to restrict it to gold medal-winning wines, which would limit the number of wines available and also ensure a minimum quality standard.

The tasting was well-attended (particularly given the time of year) with 50 tasters throughout the day, comprised of Masters of Wine, Master of Wine students and wine trade. Feedback was very positive. English wine producers in particular welcomed the opportunity to try top-class wines from their colleagues.

Tasting-wise, major producers such as Camel Valley, Chapel Down, Gusbourne, Nyetimber, and Ridgeview certainly lived up to expectations, with very high-quality wines also from producers such as Ashling Park, Coates & Seely, Fox & Fox, Hambledon, Harrow & Hope, Hattingley Valley, Squerryes and Wiston Estate. The range of different styles from steely and fruit-driven to mellow and autolytic showed us the stylistic range of what the UK can do, whilst the presence of some older ‘RD’ wines from the 2009 and 2010 vintages showed how English wines can age (hint: they’re good!). For me the most unique and unusual wine was the 2010 pure Seyval Blanc from Breaky Bottom; a variety to watch.

The event was given added gravitas by a presentation from UK wine specialist Stephen Skelton MW. Stephen showed how UK vineyards have more than trebled in size since 2004, with sparkling wine vine varieties, mainly the Champagne trio, accounting for around 70 per cent of the planted area. He also pointed out that around 50 per cent of the sparkling wine area already planted was not yet producing wine for sale. He ended his talk by saying that English Sparkling wine wasn’t as good as Champagne – it was better – a fact supported by the amazing quality of the wines at the tasting.

We would like to extend our thanks to producers who provided wines for this event and can assure them that they had an appreciative audience. We very much hope to repeat this event in future years, and hopefully at a different time in the calendar in order to benefit from the presence of a more international audience.

Anne McHale MW