English sparkling wines are absolutely fantastic, yet unfortunately, the vast majority of the public still don’t know about them. Instead most will go for a bottle of champagne if they are looking for a wine to celebrate with. So why are we not shouting about it louder than we are?
The main issue is current demand far outstrips supply. This has prompted Waitrose, the UK supermarket, to purchase a four hectare site in Leckford, Hampshire to plant their first vineyard. Unfortunately for us, it will take five years before its first vintage will be ready for us to enjoy; as the grapes will take three years before they are ready and the wine then spends a further two years maturing! This seems to be a very prudent move by Waitrose, who as a company, has seen an increase in sales of 18% year on year, resulting in a 55% share of the market (http://www.thirtyfifty.co.uk/wine-news-detail.asp?id=492&title=Waitrose-plant-first-vineyard).
Following on from this news, Nyetimber is hoping to turn itself from a boutique wine into a major brand. Its first step with this, was the appointment of Stephen Clark to look after Sales and Marketing, a man who has spent the last 20 years at Laurent Perrier. Nyetimber currently produces 70,000 bottles a year of sparkling from the Champagne grapes Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. However, its six year expansion plan includes increasing production to 600,000 bottles (http://www.thirtyfifty.co.uk/wine-news-detail.asp?id=326&title=Nyetimber-plans-leap-from-boutique-to-brand--).
So, with the future of English sparkling wine looking positively rosy, I decided to support our economy and go buy myself a bottle…more on that tomorrow.