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The Rise Of The English Fizz

Sales of sparkling wine in the UK have shot up by 80% over the last five years, according to HM Revenue and Customs. But will it be your choice of drink this Christmas?

We caught up with the team at Nyetimber, an award-winning sparkling wine from vineyards in West Sussex and Hampshire, to find out more about the English fizz and how it compares to Champagne.

It’s no secret that the English love their wine and Champagne is no exception. What is less well known, is that parts of England are particularly good for growing grapevines. With some exceptionally talented wine makers located here in the UK and more people looking to source local produce; the wine scene is dynamic.

Among the talented winemakers are Cherie Spriggs and Brad Greatrix who joined Nyetimber in 2007, after sending a speculative letter to the Nyetimber estate. The Canadian couple have really launched English sparkling wine up into stratosphere. In fact, Cherie is only the second female winemaker nominated for Sparkling Wine Maker of the Year at the International Wine Challenge Awards. Nyetimber was awarded four medals, including two golds, at this year’s International Wine & Spirit Competition (IWSC) – helping to get English wine taken seriously on the world stage.

Time to shatter perceptions that sparking wine is inferior to Champagne

Steffan Griffiths, Brand Ambassador at Nyetimber says, “Lots of people associate quality with the word Champagne and therefore disregard sparkling wine. But Champagne is just a sparkling wine that comes from vineyards in the region of Champagne. Our wines come from vineyards, with very similar soils and climate to the Champagne vineyards found in France.”

Not only does Nyetimber insist on long periods of ageing on to ensure quality – up to five years for the Blanc de Blancs – but Nyetimber wines are made using the ‘traditional method’ like they use in Champagne.

Nyetimber also only use 100 percent estate owned and grown grapes, unlike most Champagne, which means they have complete control over the quality and consistently produce excellent wines.

Steffan says, “Quality is a priority to us here at Nyetimber.” This was demonstrated in 2012 when the team took the drastic decision not to harvest and make wine because the bad weather meant the harvest would not have achieved the team’s quality standards.

Their sparkling wines are excellent and really do satisfy your thirst for bubbles. After tasting them it’s easy to see how tasting experts would rate it higher than Champagne and understand why the Queen selected Nyetimber for her Diamond Jubilee. If it’s good enough for the Queen, it’s good enough for us!

Some facts about fizz…

The UK is the second largest Champagne market, with British retailers stocking up on 32.7m bottles worth more than £341m, out of a total export figure of 144m bottles.

In the past five years, sales of sparkling wine have jumped from 17.6 million to 31.6 million gallons.

Moet, one of the largest Champagne producers in the world, uses just 30 per cent of its own fruit. The rest is from other vineyards, which means taste can vary.

Quality sparkling wine, like Nyetimber, is left to age for much longer than your average Champagne.

Most quality sparkling wines, like Nyetimber, are made from the same grape varieties as Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meaner.

Visit Nyetimber for more information about their fabulous sparkling wine.