A glass of Sussex anyone? I’ve written before about the proposals for a Protected Designation of Origin (PDO; basically, an appellation) for Sussex wine. It’s an issue that has raised its head again with a recent article in the Telegraph. The proposed Sussex PDO is a big problem, and it could be a major hindrance to the progress of English sparkling wine. This is why I’m speaking out against it.
The main issues:
- The proposed PDO seeks to protect too wide a range of wines lacking characteristics in common. This includes still and sparkling wines made from a large range of grape varietes, grown on very different soils. Take a look at the soil map of the south of England to see why county boundaries are not meaningful for PDOs.
- The soils and climates in Sussex are so diverse that they can’t hope to impart specific characteristics to wines that could then be protected by a PDO, and there’s no evidence to suggest that Sussex sparkling wine is distinguishable in any way from other English Sparkling Wines.
This is pretty damning, too:
A snapshot analysis of the 2015 international competitions shows that many English Sparkling Wine producers winning the top accolades would fall outside the Sussex PDO:
|International Competition||Producers awarded a trophy or gold medal||Those eligible for Sussex PDO|
|Decanter World Wine Awards 2015||7||0|
|The Champagne and International Sparkling Wine Awards 2015||12||1|
|International Wine Challenge 2015||13||2|
|International Wine and Spirits Competition 2015||2||1|
And as if this wasn’t enough, then look at the following, taken from an objection to the PDO:
In particular the PDO covers
(1) Wine of every colour: White, Rosé, Red, more specifically described as: Light lemon, Mostly pale yellow or lime, Pale gold, Deep golden hues, Honey, Rosé blush, Pale pink, Rose petal, Wild strawberry, Pale to mid salmon, Stronger salmon pink, Salmon pink with slightly golden hue, Pale ruby, Violet through to mid ruby, and Violet and purple red hues;
(2) Wine of any sweetness: namely Brut Nature, Extra Brut, Brut, Extra Dry, Dry, Medium Dry, Sweet, Demi-Sec, Doux
(3) Wines of every flavour: more specifically described as: Crisp lemon citrus, Green apple acidity, Prominent floral and fruit driven flavours, Lemon, Lime, Elderflower, Other floral notes, Apple, Pear, Gooseberry, Delicate and floral, Hints of white flowers, Clean and fresh, Rose petals, Melon, Strawberry, More earthy mix of red berry and baked apple, Have depth and are complex, With a richness in character, Developed autolytic notes of brioche, fresh toast, melon, baked brioche and honey aromas, Soft tannins, Hints of red and black fruits, Leather, Juicy plums and Wild berry.
(4) Wines from a huge range of grapes namely 26 different grape varieties: Acolon; Arbanne, Auxerrois; Bacchus; Chardonnay; Dornfelder; Gamay; Huxelrebe; Muller Thurgau; Orion; Ortega; Petit Meslier, Pinot Blanc; Pinot Gris; Pinot Meunier; Pinot Noir; Pinot Noir Précoce; Regent; Regner; Reichensteiner; Riesling; Rondo; Roter Veltliner; Schonburger; Siegerrebe; Solaris.
(5) Wine of any style: including deacidified/not deacidified, oaked/unoaked, with or without malolactic fermentation, sweetened or not etc. Even orange wines would qualify.
It follows from the above that the PDO does not identify common ‘analytical or organoleptic characteristics’ in ‘Sussex’ Wines, namely Sussex Still Wine and Sussex Sparkling wine. Such wines cannot therefore be grouped together for the purpose of a PDO application. If asked what a ‘Sussex’ wine was, the answer would have to be ‘absolutely anything’. There are no benchmark characteristics against which a Sussex wine could be judged for conformity.
Is anyone going to argue in favour of this PDO?