There has recently been some debate about whether or not English sparkling wine needs a name, prompted by the release of Coates & Seely’s new fizz, for which they have coined the term Britagne. Here’s my take, delivered in nine points.
- It is an important time for English sparkling wine. New vineyards will soon be on stream, and production will be increased significantly. There is now a critical mass of top quality wines.
- Currently, the top producers sell out, and get a good margin for their product. Demand exceeds supply. But if production increases to the extent that they need to use new routes to market, they’ll either have to take a margin hit (supermarkets and independent wine shops take 30–45%) or raise prices.
- The category needs smart branding and marketing if it is to grow out of its current niche.
- For marketing reasons, it will be important to have a single name for the entire category, and for the industry to be 100% behind this.
- For this to happen, proud people will have to compromise and risk taking a personal hit for the good of all.
- In the absence of cooperation in marketing and branding the whole sector could suffer and even die. This sounds extreme, but if overproduction were to result in discounting, it could ruin things for everyone.
- Britagne is a good suggestion. Not perfect, but pretty good. Are there any better ones?
- If any name is used, it needs to be donated as a trademark to some central body—perhaps an executive made of a mix of industry people and smart outsiders.
- The industry should resist the temptation to be proscriptive. It would be a mistake to come up with a list of restrictive production criteria (such as permitted grape varieties, pressing conditions, ageing periods). As long as the wine is bottle-fermented English sparkling wine, it should be allowed to use the name.