Wine: Let’s get fizzy
I was surprised to see that the official fizz chosen for the Diamond Jubilee Picnic in Buckingham Palace Gardens on Monday will not be English, but French.
The Royal Household will be popping corks from magnums of a well-known champagne brand as they celebrate the Queen’s 60-year reign. For the first time the royals have also allowed their subjects the opportunity to buy bottles of this exclusive Jubilee label in stores.
It would surely have been more appropriate to celebrate the huge leap in quality of English sparkling wine with another royal endorsement. Not only has there been a rapid increase in the size of the UK’s vineyards (now at 1,380 hectares), but Prince Charles is planting his own vines in Windsor Park and his wife Camilla is president of the UK Vineyards Association.
But there is nothing stopping us from being patriotic, especially this week which marks English Wine Week, and buying British. There is now an abundance of quality English fizz, albeit from small-scale producers, which often gets mistaken for champagne in blind tastings.
While some English fizz such as Bolney Estate’s Sirrius or Somborne Valley are still made from the hardy seyval blanc hybrid vine which was initially recommended to suit our chilly climate, there has been huge success with chardonnay and pinot noir, the same grapes as champagne, on our chalky southern downs. Chardonnay and pinot noir are now the most planted varietals in the UK. The expansion and quality of our burgeoning fizz industry continues.
OFFICIAL JUBILEE CHAMPAGNE
Champagne, France: Moet & Chandon Diamond Jubilee Cuvée NV
(£33.49, Waitrose; Harvey Nichols; Berry Bros & Rudd; Harrods and Fortnum & Mason)
Moet & Chandon is not the only champagne house to hold a royal warrant, but they have held theirs since Queen Victoria bestowed it in 1893. Considering the quantity they make each year, this is a bright, fruity, smooth fizz.
Cornwall: Camel Valley Brut 2008
The best Cornish fizz to date from a Bodmin vineyard; racy, lean and athletic – a perfect celebratory toast for our Jubilee and Olympic summer.
Sussex: Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2004
(£24.99, Majestic Wine; £29.99, www.sparklingenglishwine.com)
It might have taken two enterprising Americans in West Sussex to show us how to make decent English fizz in true champagne fashion, but Nyetimber really paved the way where others have followed. In my opinion, still one of the leaders in the pack with their creamy, elegant fizz.
Sussex: Ridgeview Merret Bloomsbury 2009
Another of my favourites made by an award-winning small family business in the South Downs – vibrant, biscuity and rich. Their Fitzrovia rosé fizz is good too.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Sunday 19 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 20 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North