Before I start about the tasting session we had, there are a couple of things that struck me about the winery and vineyard tours we started the day with. English sparkling wine can’t escape the link with the most famous sparkling wine region the world, Champagne. The (English and Welsh) wine press love to crow when our wines win out in trophies against their better known cousins. I was to learn that this “us versus them” attitude doesn’t exist in the winery.
English and Welsh wine can’t escape the link with Champagne. The soils in places are similar. The weather is (to a certain extent) similar. Southern English wineries in particular are extremely well matched, and so they grow the same grapes and make the wines in the same style as the illustrious neighbour.
If you’re thinking that would piss anyone of the Champagnois off, then you’d be wrong. Well, mostly anyway. Maybe one or two are starting to get a bit nervous. The clever ones though are realizing they have a great way to join together, keep making great wines, and even investing their cash in the Sussex or Hampshire in the face of climate and economic change.
Notes are exchanged, flying winemakers are the norm (Herve Jestin in the case of Hambledon), and inter-winery swaps are taking place in both bottles and staff. As the English wine world is on the rise at the same time as smaller producers in Champagne are starting to release their own wine labels, it seems like it’s an “all in it together” situation for a few forward thinkers.
If the recycle bin at Hambledon is to be believed, there’s plenty of…er…research happening on both sides of the channel.