Serving the best of English wines10 Jun
It’s hard to appreciate the qualities of English wine without knowing a little about the innovative and forward-thinking vineyards that produce it. We look at this somewhat underappreciated home-grown produce, and why you might want to have a few bottles for your table…
Once drunk by newly crowned French kings, and then popularised at the court of Louis XV in Versailles, champagne is what we all enjoy when there’s a cause for celebration. The French are fiercely protective of what could be one of their finest legacies. Without exception, it is illegal for sparkling wine to be labelled as champagne if it has not been made from grapes grown in the region, and has not followed the same fermentation method used for hundreds of years.
The wine must be fermented twice, and it’s this second fermentation stage that creates the bubbles naturally, rather than having them added.
The true origins
Believe it or not, it was the English who first invented the delectable drink, with Christopher Merret recording the addition of sugar to a finished wine to create a secondary fermentation process which results in a bottle of sparkling wine. This was during a time when English glass makers had come on leaps and bounds in their techniques, meaning that English bottles could contain the increased internal pressures from the bubbles where French bottles would shatter. The region of champagne did not start using the official méthode champenoise until the 19th century, about 200 years after Merret documented the process.
Perfectly paired with caviar, fish and chips, roasted chicken, or fruit-based desserts
England has the perfect conditions for producing wine, with the temperatures becoming warmer and our vineyards growing grapes of equal quality to those from sunny and far off places abroad. So why are English sparkling wines still considered to be inferior to champagne?
Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, and Bacchus (our answer to Sauvignon Blanc) grapes are all very happy growing in our green and pleasant lands. What’s more, unlike the French vineyards who are restricted to using 350-year-old methods, we’re free to develop and improve our production processes in any way we like. We have no heritage to stay obligated to, which means we are free to improve on what’s been made before.
Store your English wine laying down, in a cool and dry part of the house where it can avoid natural light. While flutes and coupes de champagnes are perfectly acceptable vessels to serve your sparkling wine in, consider thinking outside the box by opting for a classic wine glass, which has a larger surface area to effectively capture the beautiful notes and aromas during a tasting. Don’t over-chill, or you will lose the flavour.
Exploring Chapel Down in Kent
For the best in English fizz, look no further than Chapel Down. Known for producing a world-class range of sparkling wines, they use the traditional champagne method, with grapes grown across the chalky, limestone-rich lands of South East England. With their vineyards based in the picturesque market town of Tenterden in Kent, they also source the best grapes from Essex to Hampshire. You’ll find their wines served at the finest and iconic establishments, from No 10 Downing Street and Ascot, to The Royal Opera House.
“We strive to push the boundaries of English wine production through innovative ways of thinking, whether that be through blending new and traditional winemaking techniques or creating different styles of wine including England’s first Orange Bacchus and England’s first single varietal Albariño.”- Chapel Down
Aware of the perfect balance that needs to be achieved when developing new wines, Chapel Down’s head winemaker Josh Donaghay-Spire sources English grapes that bring freshness and vibrancy to their products. The vineyard produces a range of drinks, from the very popular and young Brut NV to the more mature Three Graces, which is aged for four years.
Their Flint Dry (which is great with oysters) and their delicate English Rose from the 2018 harvest have now been bottled and are flying off the shelves. Their approach is certainly working, with a host of international gold medals and awards to their name. They are known for their pioneering approach which saw them open the “Chapel Down Gin Works” in December 2018; an experiential bar, restaurant, and Gin Works by the Regents Canal in London.
An orangery for wine connoisseurs
Designed to perfectly harmonise with the rear of a modern countryside home in Surrey, this elegant twin-lantern orangery includes a formal dining area and a comfortable sitting room.
As the homeowners are wine aficionados and love to host evening dinners for their friends and family, we designed a show-stopping bespoke wine store that is the envy of any English wine drinker.
The quiet, cool room is complete with wine racks that allow the bottles to be stored lying flat, clearly on display and easily accessible.