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15 ≥Zeren Wilson on England’s best-kept liquid secret

as 1662 – six years before the fabled monk Dom Pérignon entered Hautvillers Abbey as Cellar Master. The Ridgeview estate, also in Sussex, named one of its wines Cuvée Merret in recognition of this joyous ‘we were there fi rst’ moment. We’re increasingly seeing

English wines appear on top restaurant lists, with Roast in London’s Borough Market in the vanguard. And English sparklers are appearing proudly among the most popular out there. Enthusiasm from the

winemakers is infectious. ‘I absolutely love bubbles, and the fresh and slightly fruitier character you get from grapes grown here simply cannot be beaten. We are worthy of being ranked among the best in the world,’ says Samantha Linter,

Head Winemaker at Bolney Wine Estate in Sussex. The quality is there, the

wineries are there (around 400 commercial vineyards in England and Wales), and there’s poetry in our sparkling wine too. Cherie Spriggs sums up her love for all things bubbly: ‘Flavours are more subtle than still wine, they don’t shout, they are delicate and intricate and they draw you in. It’s beautiful.’

What makes Cherie smile? ‘The great team we have here at Nyetimber makes me smile. They are fantastic!’


Sparkling wine needn’t cost a small fortune. Try these value-for-money sparklers: 1. Three Choirs Classic Cuvée, £11 [three-] 2. Chapel Down Brut NV Vintage Reserve, £16.99 [] 3. Ridgeview Cuvée Merret, £17.59 [ocado. com] 4. Camel Valley ‘Cornwall’ Brut, £19.95 [] 5. Denbies Whitedowns Vintage, £16.99 []


Fizz is good with food too. Make sparkling wine a weekly indulgence and pair: 1. Vintage with black truffl e taglierini or smoked salmon (structured and complex wine needs bolder fl avours). 2. Blanc de Blancs with oysters (zippy, lemony and mineral, they make a perfect foil). 3. Blanc de Noirs with grilled veal chop. 4. Rosé with tuna sashimi, grilled prawns or lobster (try Coates & Seely’s Rosé NV, made to its cheekily named ‘Méthode Britannique’). 5. Non Vintage with caviar- or roe-topped blinis – the decadent choice


Tastings are a fun and free way to discover new wines. If you fancy a fi zzy day out, these vineyards hold events throughout the year (check websites for details): 1. The Wine Pantry, London [] 2. Bolney Wine Estate, Sussex [bolneywineestate.] 3. Gusbourne Estate, Kent [gusbourne. com] 4. Three Choirs Vineyards, Gloucestershire [three-choirs-vineyards.] 5. Ancre Hill Estates, Monmouth [] ·Hot tip:·Watch out for Henners Vineyard [hennersvineyard.] whose fi rst English sparkling, to be launched in April 2012, has already had rave reviews from critics

‘It’s a small industry, but the key players are pushing quality

and boundaries’ CHERIE SPRIGGS


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