Did you know that England has been making wine for over 2,000 years? In this article, we will explore the history of English wines and take a look at some of the best ones that the country has to offer.
We will also discuss why English wine is becoming more popular every day, and give you five recommendations for fine wines from England. Finally, we will share some fun facts about English wine that you may not have known
A short history of English wine
While it is certainly overshadowed by the wine regions of France and Italy, England has a long and rich history when it comes to winemaking. The first vines were planted by the Romans in the first century AD, and wine production continued until the fifth century.
After the fall of the Roman Empire, English winemaking took a bit of a hiatus until the Normans arrived in the eleventh century. It was under their rule that viticulture really began to take off in England. By the fourteenth century, there were over 400 vineyards in London alone!
During this time period, many English wines were exported to other countries in Europe. In fact, one of England’s most famous wines is called “Claret” which is a dry red wine that was popular in France.
However, the English wines we know today are a far cry from the sweet, heavy wines of yesteryear. In the last few decades, there has been a renaissance of sorts when it comes to English winemaking.
New techniques and technologies have resulted in some amazing wines that can compete with the best in the world.
Modern English wines
Modern English wines are typically made from one of three grapes: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, or Pinot Meunier.
These grapes are well-suited to the English climate and give the wines a characteristic freshness and acidity.
English sparkling wines have become some of the most sought-after in the world.
They are usually made using the “Champagne method” of secondary fermentation in the bottle. This gives them their signature bubbles and complex flavour.
Some of the best English sparkling wines come from the following producers:
- Nyetimber – Nyetimber is one of the most well-known English sparkling wine producers. Their wines are made using traditional Champagne grape varieties and are aged for a minimum of three years.
- Hambledon Vineyard – Hambledon Vineyard is one of the oldest vineyards in England. They produce a range of award-winning sparkling wines using traditional Champagne methods.
- Gusbourne – Gusbourne is a relatively new English sparkling wine producer, but their wines have already won numerous awards. Their Brut Reserve 2012 was named “Best Sparkling Wine in the World” at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2015.
- Chapel Down – Chapel Down is one of the most popular English sparkling wine producers. Their wines have won numerous awards and are exported to over 40 countries.
Why sparkling wine?
The reason that most English wine is sparkling is because the climate is not conducive to growing other types of grapes. The cool, damp climate is similar to that of Champagne, France, which is why English sparkling wines are often compared to Champagnes.
What makes English wine special?
One of the things that makes English wine special is the fact that it is not mass-produced like many wines from other countries. English wine producers use traditional methods and often hand-pick their grapes, which results in a high-quality product.
What are the best English wines?
Here are five English wines that you need to try:
- Chapel Down “Three Graces” Blanc de Noirs 2012
This award-winning sparkling wine is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes. It has the aromas of strawberries and cream with a hint of biscuit. The palate is well-balanced with flavours of red fruits and a creamy texture.
- Bolney Wine Estate pinot gris
This is a great example of an English Pinot Gris. The nose is very floral with honeysuckle, peach and pear aromas. The palate is off-dry with good acidity and flavours of stone fruits, honey and a hint of ginger.
- Hambledon Classic Cuvée NV
This is another great English sparkling wine made from a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier, and Pinot Noir grapes. It has the aromas of citrus fruits, brioche, and white flowers. The palate is well-balanced with flavours of lemon zest, apples, and baked bread.
- Lyme Bay Winery Reserve Brut 2010
This sparkling wine is made from 100% Chardonnay grapes and has aromas of green apples, white flowers, and dough. The palate is dry with flavours of citrus fruits, stone fruits, and a hint of honey.
- Chapel Down English Rose Brut NV
This sparkling wine is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes and has aromas of strawberries, raspberries, and cream. The palate is off-dry with flavours of red berries, cherries, and a hint of yeast.
Facts about English winemaking
Here are some fun facts about English winemaking:
- The first vines were planted in England by the Romans over 2000 years ago.
- English wine is typically made from native grape varieties such as the Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Riesling grapes.
- England has over 500 vineyards and produces over 70 million bottles of wine per year.
- The majority of English wines are produced in the south of England, specifically in the counties of Kent, Sussex, and Hampshire.
- English sparkling wine is some of the best in the world and rivals Champagne.
English wine at its best
English wine has come a long way in the last few decades. The quality of English wines has improved immensely, and today there are some fantastic English wines being produced.
We hope this article has inspired you to explore English wines!