English Wine Week: Why English wine is more popular than ever

The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 30th May 2015
English wine holds an important place in our rich and fruitful history. From the Roman’s introduction of the vines to England, to its commercial revival in the 1950s, English wine has helped to shape a culture of traditional winegrowing. Now, with over 450 vineyards throughout the country, English wine is facing an even more exciting future as its popularity booms and production increases. Institute of wine logo 2This year, the International Wine Championships awarded 14 gold medals to English wines, more than ever before. We spoke to Nick Adams Master of Wine, a panel chairman for the championships and owner of wine consultancy company First Glass Wine Services, about his thoughts on the how the English wine industry has grown. “20 years ago I doubt if I would have even bothered to go to an English wine tasting”, says Nick, “there was less equity, less investment and less understanding of regions and areas. However, today English wine is the best it has ever been”. So, how has this growth come about? A pressing issue for many, the process of global warming and the rising temperatures that come with it have been extremely beneficial to the English wine industry. Nick said: “There is a lot of debate surrounding global warming and undeniably something is happening. As temperatures rise there is an increasing propensity to make a much more consistent wine." As well as the rising consistency in the quality of English wine, its recent success has been boosted by its status as a cultural product and our patriarchal sense of pride in buying home grown goods. Nick said: "In essence, it’s mild patriarchy. Due to the devolutionary nature of our political debate, people probably feel more like supporting an English product.” The English wine industry can also be thankful to the many vineyards and wineries that have used their expanding expertise to produce sparkling wine similar in quality to the likes made in the renowned French wine region of Champagne.Cornwall vineyeard - credit to English Wine Producers The expertise of the winemakers, as well as the improving soil standards and ripening process, have allowed English wine to shake off the stereotypical image of being bland and neutral. Speaking of English sparkling wine, Nick said: “Winemakers are aiming at high quality and copying the champagne style, with more and more getting really nice toasty, yeasty, pastry notes coming through.” Today, a wide array of flavoursome, high quality wines are being produced by English winemakers and Nick was able to try a variety of wines at The English Wine Producer’s 2015 trade and press tasting event, particularly enjoying the likes of Hattingley Valley’s Classic Cuvée, with its “beautifully rounded and very elegant” flavours as well as Nyetimber’s Rosé 2009, which he described as having “remarkably bold fruit flavours”. Nyetimber credit to TelegraphHowever, many more English wines managed to impress Nick on the day. He said: “I didn’t have the opportunity to try every single wine in the room. I tasted well over 100 and they can all be exceptionally proud.” The rising temperatures, better quality soil and improving expertise of English winemakers, all taking advantage of the recent commercial boom to heighten their knowledge and experience, are certainly securing an even brighter future for the product. Nick explained: “I think they’ll only get better and more defined and I’d expect to see a hardcore group of top producers pulling away from the rest. “In time, they are going to locate top quality spots for vineyards - undiscovered areas, not fully realised, that are going to be special”. Reports of an international prosecco shortage only seems to confirm that there is certainly a consumer need for sparkling wine. English winemakers have ran with this consumer need, producing better wines than ever before, particularly industry leaders such as Sussex based Nyetimber. Nick said: “I really admire what they’re doing at Nyetimber. They seem to have really developed into something very consistent, developing wines that are highly selective and very thoughtfully put together.”Wine Trust There are still problems to be conquered, however. For many, the pricing of English wine makes it unappealing to say the least. Nick explained: “The taxation and duty system in this country means that English wine is never going to be cheap. The producer and the consumer have got to be completely confident that the price of the wine will reflect the style and quality that they would expect for the amount of money being paid.” The location of English vineyards is also of major importance, particularly in the production of red wine. “There are limitations to what our winemakers can do because of our climate”, says Nick, “they are having to get more out of a limited canvas of options for them. It’s a real challenge.” These issues pose big hurdles for the English wine industry in its quest to remain consistent in its growth, but Nick remains positive for the future. “I’m really hopeful and I applaud the producers. It’s a big commitment and it takes a lot of investment to have a go at this. They should be championed all the way.” English wine’s history has seen it struggle to keep up with industry favourites such as Champagne and Prosecco, however, with its ever improving quality and the growing awareness of the overall brand, it comes as no surprise that English wine is now slowly creeping up behind them. With its future looking more than promising, it seems that the recent popularity of English wine is only the beginning of a lot more success to come. By Lewis Treleaven

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 30th May 2015

English Wine Week: Why English wine is more popular than ever