I took part in a brilliant tasting today, organized by Noble Rot magazine. Alas, there’s an embargo, so I can’t tell you the outcome or list the wines involved, but I can share some pictures and give a little commentary.
So, the tasting was pitting four of the best English sparkling wines (and the Noble Rot guys chose brilliantly here) against four grand marques and four grower Champagnes. To keep things even, none of these were super-expensive wines, so we weren’t look at Krug and DP or any luxury cuvees.
The tasting group was pretty high powered. Wine writers were represented by Jancis Robinson, Neal Martin and I, and there was a strong group of chefs and sommeliers, plus a couple of other important food and wine people. We tasted from decent glasses (Zalto), and with 12 wines in the line-up, we could take our time. It was double blind (so we didn’t know the identity of the wine, or which wines were in the line up).
I found a real range of styles. It was incredibly hard to spot the English wines: I picked two of them out, but missed the other two. They were certainly in their peer group. I can’t tell you any more about the results. But the next issue of Noble Rot, which will be out in November, to find out.
So how good is English sparkling wine? I’ve been drinking quite a bit of it lately. And I’ve been drinking quite a bit of Champagne. The best English sparkling wines are world class. A few are a bit too lean, youthful and acidic, but the overall quality is really high. Expect to see more tastings like this, because of all countries making sparkling wine, England is one that can do it to the extent that you can pop them in a blind tasting line-up and they won’t stick out against good Champagne.