16 June 2022

5 fabulous fizzes to celebrate English Wine Week

16 June 2022

With English vineyards throwing open their cellar doors for tastings and vineyard tours, not to mention home-grown fizz soaring in popularity, English Wine Week (June 18 to 26) is the perfect time to mark your diary for a more local wine experience.

With hundreds of vineyards, the beautiful south is home to the highest concentration of wineries – sparkling wine is our calling card and the finesse, quality and craftmanship has never been better.

“We love English Wine week, it’s a great time to try all the new and amazing wines this beautiful country has to offer,” says Trevor Clough, co-founder and head blender at Digby in West Sussex.

Digby Non-Vintage Brut, £32.50, Armit Wines, (Digby/PA)

He says he likes to start the week off with a bang with their Digby NV Brut (£32.50). “The cheeky younger brother in our family,” says Clough. “Vibrant yet understated, this fizz is in its element at home on a Tuesday evening, or at a party celebrating one of life’s big moments, so no need to wait until the weekend!”

An engaging expression of Digby’s house style: “It stems from England’s most luscious pinot noir with rich, aged chardonnay and plummy pinot meunier,” chimes Clough.

Indeed, the majority of home-grown fizz is made from champagne grapes, and as Justin Langham, owner of Langham Wine Estate in Dorset puts it: “It’s such an exciting time to be in the English wine industry, with our wines scoring highly on the international stage, and a whole host of young winemakers making their mark.”

Langham says demand has outstripped supply at Langham Estate, and they’ve just planted 45 hectares of new vines, to allow them to make much more wine in the future.

“Pop down to your local independent wine shop and use English Wine Week as an opportunity to try something new,” he enthuses. “With more than 700 vineyards in the UK, you’ll surely find a new favourite!”

Langham Rose NV, £32.25, Langham Wine Estate (Langham Wine Estate/PA)

Super delicious and sophisticated, try their Langham Rosé NV (£32.25) for its enticing raspberry and strawberry aromas, flavours of fresh raspberry, red cherries, plums, and a fresh, biscuit-y finish. Try it with chestnut smoked salmon.

Another leading light, Balfour Winery in Kent – aka the wine garden of England – are celebrating the huge potential of English wines. One of the country’s top producers, Balfour’s winemaker Fergus Elias says: “The wines we make, I truly believe are some of the best sparkling and stills in the world – we just need to get the word out there.”

With total hectarage of vines planted in Great Britain having grown by 150% in 10 years, and quadrupled since 2000, according to Wine GB, it’s safe to say Britain is in the middle of a wine boom.

Balfour Leslie’s Reserve Sparkling White Wine, £, Ocado (Balfour/PA)

We’ve plucked Balfour’s Leslie’s Reserve Sparkling White (£25) which takes its name from co-founder Leslie Balfour-Lynn and really hits the spot for downright deliciousness. The classic trio of champagne grapes is topped with a splash of pinot gris and showcases the wonderful English acidity enriched by citrusy fruits, green apple, hint of brioche and a characteristically crisp, dry finish.

Meanwhile, Jackie Wilks, co-founder of Terlingham Vineyard in Kent says English wine’s experiencing a huge boost in popularity, as more people appreciate the quality and craftmanship that goes into producing wines in this country – and look to support local.

“Terlingham is a naturally farmed coastal vineyard which means no artificial chemicals, or fertilisers are used, and our vines benefit greatly from the sea breeze, which blows any potential mildew away.

“Our grapes are also grown on the same chalk seam as the Champagne region, which provides excellent drainage and gives our wines a clean minerality,” notes Wilks.

Terlingham 2019 Sparkling White, Terlinham Vineyard (Terlingham Vineyard/PA)

A boutique, family-run vineyard, Wilks recommends their Terlingham 2019 Sparkling White (£28.50) – a Silver award winner at the IEWA 21 (Independent English Wine Awards) to raise a glass to English Wine Week.

Easy drinking with white blossom aromas, refreshing creamy mousse with orchard fruits and a twist of lemon, it’s one to satisfy your thirst with fish and chips.

Elsewhere, Hambledon Vineyard in leafy Hampshire is on fine form with plenty to shout about. “We’re always delighted when English Wine Week rolls around, giving us an opportunity to really celebrate all the great work and efforts we put into making our wines,” says Ian Kellett, owner of Hambledon Vineyard.

“This year’s even more special for us, as we’re also celebrating the vineyard’s 70th anniversary, making us the oldest commercial vineyard in the UK – what better excuse to open a bottle of our Hambledon Première Cuvée, or two!”

Hambledon Vineyard Première Cuvée, £55, Hambledon Vineyard.

At £55, it’s seriously good sparkling wine; there’s real depth and complexity in the glass. A Decanter Gold medal winner and awarded 96 Points at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2021, think scents of lemon peel and lemon zest, entwined with orange blossom and white peach, a light creaminess with nutty hints of almond, ripe fruits, baked apple notes, touch of tarte tatin, well balanced acidity and a lovely long finish. Cheers to Blighty, bubbles!

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox