Anthony Rose: ‘Our climate is ideal for producing good-quality champagnes and sparkling wines’

"I hear you make wine in England now, what's it like?" You get used to the sardonic nudge and wink from foreigners as this question is lobbed like a hand grenade. How to respond without waving the flag like a demented chauvinist? Easy, actually. Just mention our burgeoning sparkling wine industry and how, because of England's cool maritime climate and chalky soils, our green and pleasant land actually is the new Jerusalem for fizz.

Richard Balfour-Lynn, whose Kent-based Balfour Brut Rosé 2007 has just been selected for BA's first class, raised eyebrows recently by saying that England's "greatest opportunity" lay in sparkling wine, because "our climate is ideal for producing the appropriate level of acidity and mouthwatering freshness, which is vital for good-quality champagnes and sparkling wines". His salmon-pink, elegantly-dry Kent blend, Hush Heath Estate Balfour Brut Rosé 2006, £34.99-£42.94, Waitrose, Harrods, is one of England's finest sparkling rosés.

Ridgeview Estate's Mike Roberts goes further, saying "making still wine in the UK is unsustainable". Ridgeview is a benchmark for English sparkling wine. His 2008 Bloomsbury, £21.99, Waitrose, is a refreshingly crisp, bone-dry and tangy example of the finest English fizz. It's the equal of Nyetimber's 2001 Blanc de Blancs, £24.95, down from £32.95, Berry Bros' Summer Sale (0800 280 2440), crisp, creamy and dry with a lemon-squeeze of acidity.

English rosé fizz is a development whose time has come. I recently tasted and enjoyed Andrew Weeber's Gusbourne Rosé, £31.99, Armit (020-7908 0626), raspberryish on the palate with a full-bodied mousse and a crisp, mouthwateringly dry tang. Another excellent newcomer is the Coates & Seely Rosé Brut Britagne NV, £29.99, Lea & Sandeman (020-7244 0522), Bennetts Fine Wines (01608 661409), Noel Young Wines (01223 566744), Luvians (01334 654820), with its fragrant nose of red berries and super-refreshing palate of crisp, sweet mulberry fruitiness stopped dead in its tracks by an underfoot cranberryish, sherbety tang.

Its co-founder, Christian Seely, has chosen the name Britagne in an attempt to get the name accepted as a term for champagne-method English sparkling wine. This provocative step has brought orchestrated resistance to what's seen as a Frenchification of an English practice.

Mike Roberts wants the name Merret for the very best of English sparkling wine that excludes non-classic grapes such as seyval blanc and incorporates champagne-style practices such as hand-picking and whole-bunch pressing. Merret is named after the Gloucestershire doctor who, in a paper to The Royal Society in 1662, wrote about "wines brisk and sparkling", before even the supposed 'inventor' of champagne, Dom Pérignon.

Mike Roberts claims to have the support of Nyetimber, Hush Heath and Chapel Down. But Camel Valley's ex-RAF pilot, Bob Lindo, would like to shoot the idea down in flames. He sees region and brand name as the priority, pointing to the success of his son Sam, who last month won UK Winemaker of the Year for the third time, and his 2008 Camel Valley Pinot Noir Brut, £29.95, camelvalley.com, one of only 10 gold medal winners in this year's English and Welsh Wine of the Year competition.

The (mostly) good-natured debate looks set to continue for a while yet.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookA wonderful selection of salads, starters and mains featuring venison, grouse and other game
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Southern charm: Nicolas Cage and Tye Sheridan in ‘Joe’
filmReview: Actor delivers astonishing performance in low budget drama
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
News
Albus Dumbledore, the headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry has been the teaching profession's favourite teacher
education
Sport
Luis Suarez looks towards the crowd during the 2-1 victory over England
sport
Life and Style
Cheesecake frozen yoghurt by Constance and Mathilde Lorenzi
food + drinkThink outside the cool box for this summer’s frozen treats
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Sport
Sir Bradley Wiggins removes his silver medal after the podium ceremony for the men’s 4,000m team pursuit in Glasgow yesterday
Commonwealth games Disappointment for Sir Bradley in team pursuit final as England are forced to settle for silver
Sport
Alistair Brownlee (right) celebrates with his gold medal after winning the men’s triathlon alongside brother Jonny (left), who got silver
England's Jodie Stimpson won the women’s triathlon in the morning
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Visitor Experience volunteer

    Unpaid voluntary role: Old Royal Naval College: To assist the Visitor Experien...

    Telesales Manager. Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Day In a Page

    Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

    Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

    The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

    Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

    Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
    German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

    Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

    Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
    BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

    BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

    The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
    Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

    Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

    Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
    How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

    Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

    Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
    Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

    Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

    Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
    10 best reed diffusers

    Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

    Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
    Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

    Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

    There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
    Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

    Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

    It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
    Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

    Screwing your way to the top?

    Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
    Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

    Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

    Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

    Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

    The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

    The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

    Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
    US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

    Meet the US Army's shooting star

    Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform