British Fizz Uncorked: Six Tasty English Sparkling Wines

Image: Chapel Down

If you don’t know much about English Sparkling Wine, the chances are that in the next year or so, you’ll be hearing about it a lot more. After an incredibly warm summer in the U.K., the harvest of 2018 has exceeded all expectations and it is already set to be a very special vintage.

Believe it or not, the reputation of English Sparkling Wine is fast gaining credit all around the world, alongside the prestige to match; being served at two recent Royal Weddings has certainly done the industry no harm – in fact, quite the opposite.

Yet, the excitement around British fizz isn’t down to some excellent high-profile marketing, leaving us to wait for the bubble to pop; these wines are award winners, some are even beating top Champagne houses to the gold medals. At the Ultimate Wine Challenge last year, Chapel Down’s Three Graces 2010 took the top prize of the Chairman’s Trophy and the wine was judged to be outstanding, receiving 94 points.

Just to add fuel to the fire of winemaking rivalry, evidence suggests that an English scientist, Christopher Merrett, discovered how to make wine sparkle thirty years before the French monk, Dom Perignon. It was Merrett who first described a secondary fermentation and documented his discovery in 1662.

But what about the lousy English weather - surely England can’t grow grapes to rival Champagne? Well, the vineyards in the south of England, in particular, Kent, experience a very similar climate to those in Champagne. Both regions are on the northern edge of 50 degrees latitude and they also possess the same chalky soils.

The terroir in Kent is so Champagne-like that the prestigious French Champagne house, Tattinger, have started to plant vines there. Both regions can grow Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier successfully and the English wineries are also using the Traditional Method and lees treatment in their winemaking process. Additionally, as the summers become warmer in the U.K., more grape varieties can be grown that traditionally would suit warmer climates, such as Albariño, which is now being planted at Chapel Down.

Image result for Langham Blanc de Noirs 2013

We’ve picked out some of the best British bubblies out there to taste and test. If you’re new to English Sparkling wine, just think of this as us doing the hard work for you.

Langham Blanc de Noirs 2013

A blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, this is a golden wine with fine, persistent bubbles. It has a vibrant nose of fresh red fruits – strawberries and raspberries – and lemon zest, with undertones of brioche. It is zingy on the palate, with more citrus coming through. Very youthful – the perfect party-starter.

Court Garden Classic Cuvée 2014

The Champagne blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier, it is a silvery pale lemon colour and possesses a wonderfully fruity, floral nose. It has a generous, creamy mousse and flavours of apples, pears, and lemon on the palate, with a toasty depth. It is fresh-tasting with a hint of minerality and has a long, delicious finish.

Bride Valley Blanc de Blancs 2014

Young and fresh, this pale Blanc de Blancs is made from 93% Chardonnay and 7% Pinot Noir. Green apple and under-ripe pear hit the nose, alongside light toasty aromas. The palate is perked up with its fine mousse and racy acidity, as well as some zesty citrus and sweet brioche. A beach picnic on the Jurassic Coast in Dorset.

Kits Coty Blanc de Blancs 2013

A sparkling Chardonnay, the Blanc de Blancs from Kits Coty shows typical aromas of cool climate wines in this style - green apple and freshly baked bread.

The palate shows development from maturation on the lees and a toasty character from partial barrel fermentation, also bringing out some notes of dried apricots and raisins. The finish is savoury with fine persistent bubbles.

Chapel Down Three Graces 2014

The classic Champagne blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, Three Graces has benefitted from cool fermentation in stainless steel, then full malolactic fermentation, then further maturation on fine lees for six months before bottling.

It has had a minimum of three further years aging on lees in bottle, resulting in a deep, complex wine. Aromas of ripe apple, red berries, blossom and brioche fill the nose and follow through to the palate, creating a sensation of richness with fantastic length and fine persistent bubbles.

Henners Brut

A classic Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier blend, citrus and crunchy green apple fruit aromas hit the nose first, alongside complex bready notes that have developed after 48 months on the lees. Fine bubbles with a creamy mousse enliven the palate and the soft brioche-flavoured finish is long and honeyed.

These are all excellent examples of English Sparkling Wine that are most certainly comparable to high-quality Champagne, although most English producers hope not to emulate, but to offer something different; something quintessentially English.

While tasting these wines, I didn’t think of the Moulin Rouge in Paris; I pictured rose gardens, picnics and the beautiful, green, vine-covered rolling hills of England.

Langham Blanc de Noirs 2013

Court Garden Classic Cuvée 2014

Kit’s Coty Blanc de Blancs 2013

Henners Brut

Wines were tasted at Mousseux Anglais’ English Sparkling Wine Tasting ( and Chapel Down (

Written by Cuvée Corner Wine Blog contributor Sophia Longhi. Find her on Twitter @skinandpulp


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