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Add some English Sparkle to your Jubilee Celebrations

Add some English Sparkle to your Jubilee Celebrations

With just days to go until the Queen’s incredible Platinum Jubilee celebrations, what bubbles will you be uncorking to mark this unique event? Major retailers have already predicted record sales of English Sparkling fizz, which will further boost a category that’s been growing strongly over the past few years.

It’s not just out of national pride that we’re so fond of our native sparkling wines either, the quality speaks for itself and the awards from critics and international wine competitions corroborates this.

When did the English fizz revolution begin?

It’s already been a quarter of a century since a modest-sized Sussex producer entered their second release 1993 Classic Cuvée into the world-renowned IWSC (International Wine & Spirit Competition) and won a Gold medal. The producer was Nyetimber and the original owners, Stuart & Sandy Moss – a wealthy Chicago couple, had incredible foresight as well as bucket loads of ambition to realise their dream of making world-class traditional method sparkling wines in England.

When the Mosses purchased the estate in 1988 and planted the holy trinity of grape varieties; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, there were a handful of other English wine producers turning out fizz but nothing quite like those of Nyetimber. This historic estate has since inspired scores of dreamers, like the Mosses, to invest and create their own interpretations. Thus firmly establishing England as the most exciting country in the world for sparkling wines today.

Nyetimber – A golden reign

Since 2006, the estate has changed hands, a winemaking power couple were brought in, additional new vineyards were acquired and planted, and now Nyetimber’s shelves are groaning under the weight of the accolades and titles they’ve amassed during those subsequent years.

And right on topic, Nyetimber was served on the Queen’s Royal Barge during the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London in 2012, one of numerous associations with the royal family throughout its illustrious history to date. So if it’s fit for the royal family, it’s good enough for anyone right?

I’m a huge fan of the Nyetimber Classic Cuvée, not only for its incredible balance, but for its refined structure and complexity of flavours at its price point. Classed as a multi-vintage blend, you’ll find anything up to 35% of older vintages (reserve wines) being blended with the most recent vintage before undergoing at least 3 years’ ageing on the lees inside the bottle. The focus on Chardonnay, followed by Pinot Noir keeps it fresh and zingy while still exhibiting those delicious baked apple and pastry flavours on the mid-palate. This is affordable decadence that will suit any garden party.

Simpsons celebrates 10 effervescent years in the Garden of England 

It was in 2012 that Charles and Ruth Simpson purchased their little slice of Kentish heritage within the Kent Downs AONB between Dover and Canterbury. With one of the driest and sunniest spots in the UK and with vines firmly rooted on south-facing slopes in the same famous limestone-rich chalk that’s found all over Champagne, this is about as close to perfection as anyone could wish for when producing classic, cool climate still and sparkling wines with real pedigree.

The first 10 hectares of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier were planted in 2014 with a further 20 hectares added in 2016-17 and this is all supported by a state-of-the-art winery so that everything is grown, vinified and bottled on the estate.

Pinot Noir, in particular, seems to thrive in this unique microclimate and enables the couple to make their highly distinctive Simpsons Flint Fields Blanc de Noirs. The creation of the base wine, secondary fermentation and ageing on lees in the bottle takes nearly three years to complete. Made 100% from Pinot Noir, this special cuvée is disgorged and rested further prior to release. A highly expressive sparkler with red berry hints, orchard fruits and sweet brioche notes that are evident on both the nose and more so on the palate. Savoury and enveloping, the finish is elegant and lingering and reaffirms why it deserved its IWC Gold medal in 2020.

For those who love a good rosé fizz, the Simpsons Canterbury Rose Sparkling Rosé imitates the Blanc de Noirs in terms of its composition, however the ageing is a little shorter but the winemaking is slightly more involved. The Pinot Noir comes exclusively from the oldest ‘Roman Road’ plot planted in 2014 and it takes just over two years to produce this wine before it’s released. Delicately coloured and fragranced, this is a super-fresh fizz with a delicious wild strawberry acidic tang followed by a rose petal and almond aftertaste that’s highly moreish.

Whatever your plans over the Jubilee weekend, enjoy the festivities and let’s all raise our glasses to our amazing monarch.

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