Food/Drink :: And the "World's Best Sparkling Wine" comes from...that's right England
Some of you were thinking France or Italy or Spain or New Zealand or Australia but no, you'd be wrong, surprising as it is.
Article extract >> SOURCE :THE GUARDIAN
Corks pop in Sussex as British wine tops world list
Thursday June 30, 2005
The village of Ditchling in the South Downs in East Sussex may sound like an unlikely location for the production of wines to rival the best that France can offer in vintage champagnes.
But an effervescent offering from the family-run Ridgeview Estate in the village has beaten contenders from more than 50 countries to be named the best sparkling wine in the world.
The 2002 Merret Bloomsbury, fashioned from a combination of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes, won the title at this year's International Wine and Spirit Competition after a four-month search by a panel of judges.
Michael Roberts, 61, who founded the estate with his wife, Christina, 12 years ago and now runs it with his two children, said he was "delighted" to have won. "I had to go back to them and ask four times to make sure we had actually won," he said. "When you win something like this you want to be sure before you go and tell the world."
It is not the first time the 16-acre estate, which produces an annual 60,000 bottles, has been recognised. In the past five years it has been awarded 44 medals and 12 trophies, including English wine of the year in 2000 and 2002.
Mr Roberts said the title of best in the world was "a lovely award to win". He said: "It gives us that extra status and puts English sparkling wine on the map as a world-class product that should be taken seriously."
Though the 2002 Merret Bloomsbury was not up against French champagnes in the sparkling wine category, Mr Roberts insisted his produce was often mistaken for vintage champagne by wine tasters. "If you think about it, we're only 88 miles north of the latitude of Champagne, so it shouldn't be surprising," he said. "Anyway, I'd rather be selling a lovely English wine than yet another champagne."
Amy Wislocki, editor of the wine magazine Decanter, said parts of Sussex and Kent are ideal for producing sparkling wine. "There is no doubt that English sparkling wine is the best of English wine," she said. "There are some good English whites and reds but sparkling wine is really England's forte because we have the chalky soil and cool climate the grapes need."
Climate change is believed to be a factor in the success of the more than 300 vineyards in England and demand for English wine has increased by more than 30% in the past year. There have even been rumours that champagne producers from France are looking to southern England as a possible area for expansion.
It emerged last month that members of the association of French growers and producers which regulates the labelling and controlling of sparkling wines as champagne had approached at least two leading English winemakers with offers to purchase their prize-winning vines.
When the growers declined their overtures, the French scouts began talking to farmers and landowners in Kent. The Guardian revealed that one of the houses is Champagne Duval-Leroy, a 150-year-old producer located in the southern Côtes des Blancs region of Champagne.
But despite the award and the interest from across the Channel, Ridgeview and other English vineyards still face extremely stiff competition.
Cava, the cheap and ubiquitous Spanish sparkling wine, remains Britain's favourite fizz. Cava's Italian cousins, such as Asti Spumanti, also find favour over here, as do new world sparkling wines from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the US.
However, Britain's love affair with champagne remains undiminished. The UK is still by far the biggest export market for French bubbles. Last year, we imported a record 34.9m bottles, compared with 20.2m in the US and 11.5m in Germany.
But like many exporters, the French like to keep some of their produce for themselves. France's domestic champagne market is three times bigger than the UK export market, making it the largest in the world by a very comfortable margin.
End extract <<
Full article, no link.
Se Britain won't only be the largest Wine market in Europe and the second largeest in the world in just a few years, but also producing some of the best quality wines here at home all by ourselves. HA
Probably hasn't been this big/good since the Romans first introduced us to the stuff 2,000 years ago. Well unless a Greek beat them to it.
Last edited by Critic; 06-30-2005 at 02:12 AM.
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