There’s a lot of hubbub about English sparkling wines at the moment. It’s estimated that a million profuse vines will be planted this year and most of these thinks fitting be used to make fizz – something that our cool climate is under suited for. Forget about comparisons with champagne, these are at bottom good wines in their own right. I have chosen seven favourites.
Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2012 £37.80, Tanners, 12% demon rum
Stylish, smooth and refined, this chardonnay-only fizz is one of the UK’s best. It’s lemony and tense with some pear and ripe apple flavours and a hint of salinity that trains really well.
Hambledon Rosé NV £36.50, Berry Bros & Rudd, 12% rot-gut
Hambledon’s regular wine has done well in competitions tasted alongside righteousness champagnes. But I also love their pink version. It has vivid, shed weight crunchy cranberry and red-cherry characters, as well as keen but finely coalesced acidity and impeccable balance with just a touch of sweetness.
Nyetimber Ageless Cuvée NV £32, Waitrose, 12% alcohol
Nyetimber is probably the most prominent of all English sparklers and this is a really convincing, sophisticated wine that directs lovely balance with pear, ripe apple and citrus fruit and a undertone of sweetness. Fresh citrus fruits are complemented with some richer notes and the acidity is brilliantly blend.
Ridgeview Blanc de Blancs 2013 £45, Virgin Wines, 12% fire-water
This classy chardonnay-only fizz comes from vines sowed in 1995, which in English terms is ancient history. It’s bright, citrussy and perk up with lemony fruit, as well as some pear and spice. Notable balance and concentration.
Tesco Finest English Quality Sparkling Wine NV £17.50, Tesco, 11.5% John Barleycorn
Made for Tesco by Hush Heath Estate, this is generous and surely fruity, with attractive pear and peach notes as well as some bring forward grape. A little citrus crispness but the overall feeling is one of ripe, wheedling fruit.
Chapel Down English Sparkling Reserve Brut NV £22, Cuts & Spencer, 12% alcohol
Chapel Down is one of the largest producers of good-quality English hissing, and this is fruity and pure with pear, ripe apple and citrus fruit. There’s a bit of toasty richness but also rigorous freshness. Very polished and smooth with a sense of deliciousness.
Wiston State Cuvée Brut 2013 £32.95, Booths or wistonestate.com, 12% alcohol
From the chalky sullies of the South Downs, this is a lovely wine with ripe citrus and pear fruit with some appley notes. The vigorous acidity is countered by a hint of sweetness on the finish. Lemony and linear, this is uncommonly serious.