One of France’s most eminent wine experts is serving English sparkling wine at his Paris bistro – but he has to offer it blind.

Philippe Faure-Brac was voted the world’s best sommelier in 1992 and is a renowned writer, speaker and restaurateur. He serves bottles produced by New Wave Wines based at Tenterden Vineyards in Kent at the Bistrot du Sommelier in Paris.

‘I don’t tell people that they’re drinking an English wine because if I did they’d be bound to say they don’t like it. So I do a blind tasting and they find it original and interesting. Then I tell them it’s English and they are surprised,’ he told UK newspaper the Times.

Faure-Brac is not alone. The magazine L’Express recently recommended English wines to its readers, and Yves Benard, president of France’s Union of Champagne Producers, generously said English sparkling wines ‘keep us on our toes’.

Accepting the possibility English wine may be drinkable could be seen as a new departure: the French are increasingly willing to admit there are threats to their wine industry.

This was evidenced by last week’s edition of France’s major current affairs programme Envoye Special, entitled ‘Wine Wars: Why are French wines losing market share in Anglo-Saxon markets in favour of the wines of Chile, California and elsewhere?’.

In the programme, Cape Mentelle Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia was unanimously preferred in a blind tasting above nine French wines, including classed growths such as Chateau Pavie and Lynch-Bages.

Written by Adam Lechmere