Anthony Rose: The upturn in English wine's fortunes is due to growing professionalism and a change in grape varieties

It's a fair bet that when Barack Obama sipped the 1998 Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs served on his recent visit to Britain, compliments will have been duly showered on his host like confetti. It's an open secret that despite the stigma that sill attaches to English wine, England can more than hold its head high in the sparkling wine stakes. With more than 100 awards doled out this year in the UK's consumer wine competitions, English wines, sparkling wines in particular, have harvested a bumper crop. All but one of several gold medals went to English fizz, among them the 2005 Camel Valley White Pinot from Bodmin in Cornwall, Nyetimber's 1992 Blanc de Blancs 1992 from East Sussex and the 2005 Hush Heath Balfour Brut Rosé from the Weald of Kent.

English wine's annual production of some two million bottles, about the size of your average French wine co-operative, is a drop in the ocean next to France, Spain and Italy's five-billion-plus bottles each. Tiny as it may be, though, English wine is on a roll. Waitrose last year reported an increase in sales of over 18 per cent, saying that there's not enough English wine to meet customer demand. Doing its bit for its country, Waitrose has just planted vines in the sheltered hills of its Leckford Farm Estate in Hampshire, taking advantage of the sort of chalk and clay loam soils that the Champagne region enjoys. You can't hurry sparkling wine, which needs time in the bottle to develop its special yeast-derived flavours, but Waitrose's Leckford Farm fizz should be on the shelves by 2014.

A warmer climate is a factor, but the recent upturn in English wine's fortunes is also due to growing professionalism, better site selection and a change in grape varieties. Early-ripening Germanic grapes such as müller-thurgau, reichensteiner and schönburger are being gradually supplanted by the Champagne varieties, pinot noir, chardonnay and pinot meunier, planted specifically to make fizz. There is one German grape, however, that seems ideally suited to the English climate. The aromatic bacchus, which accounts for 10 per cent of Britain's estimated 1,250 hectares of vineyards, is England's answer to Loire Valley sauvignon blanc with the floral scents of elderflower and zingy, dry, gooseberry and hedgerow flavours. The smoky 2007 Camel Valley Bacchus Dry, around £12.95, Camel Valley (01208 77959), Wadebridge Wines (01208 812692), Cornwall, Great Western Wine, Bath (01225 322800), was the other English wine gold medal winner.

From former RAF pilot Bob Lindo, this is a first for an English still white wine, and suggests that maybe, just maybe, its time has come. Certainly there's a growing number of good examples around, among them the 2008 English Bacchus, £9.99, Marks & Spencer, aromatic with a sauvignon-like elderflower note and pear-like fruitiness, and the crisp, citrusy 2007 Chapel Down Bacchus, £9.49, Waitrose. Another new trend using bacchus and pinot noir among other grapes, is English rosé. If the quality of Chapel Down's refreshingly elegant summer pudding of a 2008 English Rosé, £9.99, Marks & Spencer, is anything to go by, this could be England's Next Big Thing. Yes, the price of English wine is still an issue when established wines like New Zealand sauvignon blanc cost no more. But try bacchus with locally grown asparagus, sparkling wine with crab, or rosé with a crunchy herb salad, and it should help us swallow some of that prejudice.

anthonyrosewine.com

Sport
sportGareth Bale, Carl Froch and Kelly Gallagher also in the mix for award
News
Japan's Suntory Beverage & Food has bought GlaxoSmithKline's Lucozade and Ribena
news
News
A tongue-eating louse (not the one Mr Poli found)
newsParasitic louse appeared inside unfilleted sea bass
Life and Style
The reindeer pen at the attraction
lifeLaurence Llewelyn-Bowen's 'Magical Journey' and other winter blunderlands
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
News
Tana Ramsay gave evidence in a legal action in which her husband, Gordon, is accusing her father, Christopher Hutcheson, of using a ghost writer machine to “forge” his signature
peopleTana Ramsay said alleged discovery was 'extremely distressing'
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Windsor and Aljaz Skorjanec rehearse their same-sex dance together on Strictly Come Dancing
TV
Money
Anyone over the age of 40 seeking a loan with a standard term of 25 years will be borrowing beyond a normal retirement age of 65, and is liable to find their options restricted
propertyAnd it's even worse if you're 40
Arts and Entertainment
Perhaps longest awaited is the adaptation of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road with Brazil’s Walter Salles directing and Sam Riley, Kristen Stewart and Viggo Mortensen as the Beat-era outsiders
books
Arts and Entertainment
theatreSinger to join cast of his Broadway show after The Last Ship flounders at the box office
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

    Investigo: Group Financial Controller

    £50000 - £55000 per annum: Investigo: A growing group of top end restaurants l...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

    £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Excellent opportunities are available for par...

    Investigo: IT Auditor

    £60000 - £75000 per annum + Benefits : Investigo: A global leading travel busi...

    Recruitment Genius: Chef De Partie x 2

    £16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This charming and contemporary ...

    Day In a Page

    In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

    Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

    Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
    The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

    The young are the new poor

    Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty
    Greens on the march: ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’

    Greens on the march

    ‘We could be on the edge of something very big’
    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby - through the stories of his accusers

    Revealed: the case against Bill Cosby

    Through the stories of his accusers
    Why are words like 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?

    The Meaning of Mongol

    Why are the words 'mongol' and 'mongoloid' still bandied about as insults?
    Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

    Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

    Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
    Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

    The last Christians in Iraq

    After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
    Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

    Britain braced for Black Friday
    Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

    From America's dad to date-rape drugs

    Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

    As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

    Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

    The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
    Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

    Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
    Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

    Flogging vlogging

    First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

    Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

    US channels wage comedy star wars
    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

    When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

    When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible