Home-grown English bubbly is giving champagne a run for its money. Ahead of English Wine Week (May 24 to June 1), a haul of medals have been awarded to sparkling wine producers by the International Wine Challenge (IWC), the Oscars of the wine world.
A former winemaker at Nyetimber, Dermot Sugrue has launched his second vintage of Sugrue Pierre ‘The Trouble With Dreams’ 2010, Sussex (£35, www.eebria.com) which is made from a small vineyard he planted on chalk in 2006. A blend of 55 per cent chardonnay, 40pc pinot noir and 5pc meunier, you’d be hard-pushed not to think it was champagne from the rich toast and yeasty bouquet which gives way to a complex flavour camp of bold, lemony, biscuity fruit, delicate lime and a long, elegant finish.
One of five Gold medal winners, Gusbourne is another boutique winery with vineyards in Kent and West Sussex that were first planted in 2004 and current release, Gusbourne Estate Brut Reserve 2009, Kent (£28, Oddbins), marks a second consecutive Gold. Predominantly made from chardonnay with a top-up of pinot noir and pinot meunier for strength and body, it has an attractive floral nose, a crisp, fresh palate, with notes of baked apples and pears, good acidity and a delightfully refreshing mouthfeel.
The UK’s first commercial vineyard, Hambledon in Hampshire, have released Hambledon Classic Cuvee NV (£28.50, Fields, Morris & Verdin, 020 7819 0360) after a multimillion pound regeneration. A blend of 70pc chardonnay, 20pc pinot meunier and 10pc pinot noir from the 2010 and 2011 vintages, it’s classy, crisp and pure, with citrus and apple flavours and a fresh, vibrant finish.