It’s not just the famous English wine brand Nyetimber that has created a stir in the global Wine industry. Major overseas champagne producer Taittinger of France has also expressed interest in the quality and potential in English wines, with English wine awarded 155 medals at the 2020 Decanter Awards, beating French Champagne several times.
According to WineGB, the popularity of all types of English wine this year grew and with good reason. There are now more than 700 vineyards in the UK producing 15 million bottles of wine per year since the expansion of UK vineyards began in the seventies. English wines have come of age and, as the talented wine food and wine pairing guru Fiona Beckett @winematcher wrote in her column in The Guardian last month, ‘English wine certainly counts as a summer of 21 trend’.
But why? Here are eight trends that have been converging to make it the right time for an English Wine boom:
1. Climate Change
First and foremost, UK growers and producers have built a great understanding of the unique climate in their vineyards. Climate change has meant we have a generally warmer climate than half a century ago, making it a perfect environment for English sparkling wine especially.
2. We know what we’re good at 🤓
Although our climate is now warmer, we are still known as a “cool climate” wine region – akin to, for example, New Zealand. This means that the growing season is a bit shorter and grapes don’t ripen to the same extent as in warmer climates such as, say, Bordeaux. That doesn’t mean we can’t grow similar grape varieties. It just means they will have different characteristics, e.g. lower sugar content, which in turn affects the wine styles. It’s also more difficult to grow black grapes here and so the majority of grape varieties are white. Our main indigenous variety is Bacchus; a white grape related to the German Reisling – but often referred to as the English Sauvignon Blanc. Other varieties that do well here are the “champagne grapes” Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – which is why we make such great English sparkling wines. The other English white wine varieties of note (grown in reasonably significant volume) are Seyval Blanc and Pinot Gris (known as Pinot Grigio in Italy).
A better understanding of terroir and a greater interest among consumers in wine generally has led to a willingness among landowners and businesses to invest in English vineyards and winemaking here in the UK. “Old world” expertise together with British entrepreneurial and innovative spirit has seen the quality of English wines rise to meet—and sometimes exceed—that of the long-established wine regions of the world.
4. Wine Tech
The application of viticultural knowledge to get the best out of the vines, plus winemaking savvy and techniques and technology has been enhanced over the last few years.
5. Buying British 🇬🇧
Since Brexit, there has been an increased desire to buy British and support local to support the recovery. Plus, there’s been an increased consumer awareness on sustainability and employment practices – buying local wine means you are more likely to be supporting higher quality fair wage jobs.
English Wines have become more available with sites such as BuyBritain.com offering the best of English wines handpicked by an expert.
7. Trying something new
Variety is the spice of life, particularly for those who are into their wines. As English wines are relatively new on the scene, they’re in people’s minds. As such, many are people keen to discover something new. Ever tried an English sparkling rosé or an English red pinot noir?
8. Finally, we had to mention Corona, didn’t we? 😩
Coronavirus has driven more UK wine sales online and the fact that many of us are not going to be travelling abroad this year means that we find ourselves near a vineyard closer to home and have been able to discover some amazing hidden gem vineyards in the UK.
While English sparkling wines and English whites seem to be leading the way for the UK, English red wines also show signs of improvement. Pinot Noir in particular is making a splash here – a refreshing summer drink as well as for pairing with foods like charcuterie, creamy cheeses and lightly spiced dishes. English Sparkling wines are world class and can hold their own with the big champagne brands and regularly win prizes on the international stage. Popular whites are Bacchus-based and are perfect light, fresh easy drinkers—ideal for the coming summer.
Let us know which one you loved most 😍
Available now from The Buy Britain Wine Club