Anthony Rose: ‘Our climate is ideal for producing good-quality champagnes and sparkling wines’ - Features - Food + Drink - The Independent

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.

Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Matt Damon as Jason Bourne in The Bourne Ultimatum (2007)
filmMatt Damon in talks to return
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Life and Style
tech... and together they're worth at least £100 million
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig is believed to be donning skies as 007 for the first time
Arts and Entertainment
Fringe show: 'Cilla', with Sheridan Smith in the title role and Aneurin Barnard as her future husband Bobby Willis
tvEllen E Jones on ITV's 'Cilla'
Life and Style
Bono and Apple CEO Tim Cook announced U2's surprise new album at the iPhone 6 launch
tech(but you can't escape: Bono is always on your iPhone)
Sport
Tim Wiese
sport
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Latest stories from i100
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

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

    Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

    The Imitation Game, film review
    England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

    England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

    Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

    Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    ‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

    Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week