The rise in quality – and volume – of English sparkling wine has been remarkable. Stories of English fizz beating Champagne in blind tastings are not uncommon, but when you consider that the climate, grape varieties and soil types in parts of England are the same as Champagne, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the best English sparkling wines are very much their equal.
There’s even evidence that the English were making sparkling wine a few decades before the French, despite the oft-repeated line from Dom Pérignon with which he called out to his fellow monks: ‘Come quickly, I am tasting the stars!’
Despite the English getting in on the fizz act back in the 17th century, it’s only really in the past couple of decades that the industry has flourished – the UK now has more than 150 wineries, and thanks to better techniques and warmer temperatures, making good sparkling wine in this country is no longer a challenge. The fact that big-name Champagne houses have been buying up land on England’s south coast has not gone unnoticed, either.
Nyetimber was one of the wineries that really kick-started the English fizz revolution, so it’s fitting that a magnum of its Blanc de Blancs Brut 2013 took the top spot in this year’s IWSC category, scoring 97/100pts and scooping an IWSC Trophy in the process. The judges loved its elegant, complex nose, with notes of lemon shortbread, zesty citrus and balanced finish.
Court Garden Blanc de Noirs Extra Dry 2014 was close behind (96/100pts), offering notes of tarte Tatin, red apples and baked bread, while rosé fizz got a look-in with Langham Wine Estate’s Rosé Brut 2017, another Gold winner (95/100pts), and a wine that showed rich aromas of cherry, strawberry and shortbread.
Every English sparkling wine in this year’s IWSC was judged blind, with a top-class panel tasting each one. In charge of proceedings was John Hoskins MW, assisted by consultant Roger Jones, Club Oenologique contributor David Kermode, Corney & Barrow’s Rebecca Palmer and Elliot Awin of Awin Barratt Siegel Wine Agencies.
Believe the hype – English sparkling wine is seriously good stuff, and the choice is getting wider. Here is our pick of the best English fizz from the IWSC’s 2021 tasting.
20 award-winning English sparkling wines from the IWSC 2021
- Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs Brut 2013 (Magnum)
- Court Garden Blanc de Noirs Extra Dry 2014
- Wiston Estate Cuvée Brut 2015
- Henners Brut 2014
- English Oak Vineyard Engelmann Brut 2014
- Langham Wine Estate Rosé Brut 2017
- Wyfold Vineyard 50th Anniversary Brut 2014
- Tinwood Estate Blanc de Blanc Brut 2017
- Trevibban Mill Blanc de Blancs Brut Nature 2014
- Furleigh Estate Classic Cuvée Brut 2013 (Magnum)
- Gusbourne Reserve Brut 2016
- Greyfriars Vineyard Blanc de Noirs Extra Brut NV
- Artelium Wine Estate Curators Cuvée Brut 2014
- Woodchester Valley Reserve Cuveé Brut NV
- Mereworth Wines White From Black Brut 2018
- Harrow & Hope Blanc de Noirs Brut 2015
- Breaky Bottom Brut 2016
- E.H.Booths & Co Brut NV
- Denbies Wine Estate Cubitt Blanc de Noirs Brut 2014
- Aldi Premium English Sparkling Brut NV
HOW DO WE JUDGE THESE WINES?
We run a tightly structured, rigorous wine tasting process. That means that each wine sample is pre-poured into numbered glasses and assessed blindly by the judges. Most importantly, our IWSC wine judges are experts in their field, who work across all sectors of the wine industry. For evidence, see our full list of judges.
HOW DO WE SCORE THESE WINES?
Only the best wines sampled receive a Gold or Silver award. For example, to win Gold, wines have to score between 95 and 100 points. Meanwhile, Silver wines range from 90 to 94 points. Click here to read more on our scoring system.
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