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English sparkling: making waves

Still relatively new to the world of fine sparkling wine, England’s path to international wine success continues to reach new heights...

With quality at the forefront of production, growing international demand and increasing medal counts year on year at the Decanter World Wine Awards, top wine experts and consumers alike are taking note of England’s top-quality sparkling wines.

English wines made waves at the 2020 Decanter World Wine Awards with a record number of award-winning wines, but in 2019, too, the nation saw standout success. Looking back at the past five years of the competition, it’s clear this growth is just the beginning.

‘I think, inherently, the quality of the wines that are being produced here is absolutely exceptional,’ says James Mead, general manager of 2020 Best in Show winner Roebuck Estates. ‘We have a huge attention to detail, with significant investment in planting vineyards and in the production side of the business.’


DWWA 2021 results announced Wednesday 7 July 2021 on Decanter.com – Search all DWWA results


Mead concedes that it takes a little time, but niches of wine production are opening up, and producers are winning awards and making their mark.

‘The Decanter World Wine Awards particularly is important for us, given the unbelievable level of expertise involved in the judging panel. There can’t be many other judging panels out there who are able to assess great wines at such a level, so I think the world will start to hear a bit more noise from our industry.’

For wineries such as Roebuck Estates and beyond, the future is incredibly exciting, especially when looking at the quality of English wines being produced. And, with spectacular vintages like 2018 and 2020, wine drinkers have much more to look forward to in the years to come.

Top-scoring English sparkling

Decanter World Wine Awards 2020

Roebuck Estates, Classic Cuvée Brut, West Sussex 2014

Roebuck Estates, Classic Cuvée Brut, West Sussex 2014Best in Show, 97 points
£34.95-£35.99 Grape Britannia, Hedonism, Hennings, Latimer Vintners, Roebuck Estates, South Downs Cellars, Tivoli Wines
Keen, ultra-fresh aromas, graceful creamy notes of fine Chardonnay mingling with deeper fruits from the two Pinots: apple, pear, quince. Everything on the nose is delivered with precision and focus on the palate in a refined and searching wine. Length and persistence on the finish is testament to the kind of slow acquisition of phenolic ripeness which southern England’s climate now permits. That vivacity and assurance are redefining the boundaries for northern higher-latitude sparkling wine creation: taste it here. Alcohol 12%

Chapel Down, Kit’s Coty Coeur de Cuvée, Kent 2014

Chapel Down, Kit’s Coty Coeur de Cuvée, Kent 2014Platinum, 97 points
£100 Harrods, Master of Malt
Fantastically complex, a nose laden with cinnamon, brioche, apple blossom, red apples, butter and white mushrooms. Excellent fruit concentration on a powerful palate, which is long, fresh and rich despite the extra brut style. Alc 12.5%

Chapel Down, Three Graces, Kent 2015

Chapel Down, Three Graces, Kent 2015Platinum, 97 points
£25.17-£29 Cru, GP Brands, Luckins Wine Store
Bold and opulent, with a plush nose of cinnamon-coated baked apples, spun sugar, oats and custard, then a soft yet crisp palate revealing layers of intense apricot, red apple, nuts and toast. Still retains plenty of ageworthy freshness. Alc 12%

The Grange, Pink, Hampshire NV

The Grange, Pink, Hampshire NVPlatinum, 97 points
£30.95 Fareham Wine Cellar, Stone Vine & Sun
(Blend based on 2015 vintage – follow-on bottling is the 2016-based blend.) Wonderful fragrance, elegance and concentration, possessing layers of raspberry, redcurrant and hedgerow fruits, run through with toast and nuts, before a very long finale. Alc 12%

Decanter World Wine Awards 2019

Wiston Estate, Blanc de Blancs Brut, West Sussex 2011

Wiston Estate, Blanc de Blancs Brut, West Sussex 201198 Best in Show
N/A wistonestate.com
Time on lees after secondary fermentation pays huge dividends for English sparkling wine, endowed as it always is with high natural levels of acidity. That lesson was triumphantly proved by this 2011, with its soft mousse, lifted floral aromas and deft weave of apple, tangerine and pear fruits rippled through with yeasty, bready richness. Concentration, poise and length. Alc 12%

Charles Palmer, Blanc de Blancs Brut, East Sussex 2014

Charles Palmer, Blanc de Blancs Brut, East Sussex 2014Platinum, 97 points
£36-£39.95 Christopher Keiller, Vinified Wine
Lovely nose, showing baked apple fruit with toasty, savoury lees notes adding complexity and layers. Very intense palate with citrus, apricot and apple flavours. Round, rich and generous, with a long finish. Alc 12%

Fox & Fox, Tradition Blanc de Noirs Brut, East Sussex 2014

Fox & Fox, Tradition Blanc de Noirs Brut, East Sussex 2014Platinum, 97 points
£26.50 (ib)-£46.80 Amathus Drinks, Bowes Wine, Champagne One, Grand Vin, Hedonism, Quercus Wines
Lovely creamy aromas balanced with aromatic strawberry notes. Great palate of fragrant stewed strawberries, red cherry and a hint of sour rhubarb. Profound length, with minerality adding to the complexity. Alc 12%

Squerryes, Exclusive Vintage Reserve Brut, Kent 2014

Squerryes, Exclusive Vintage Reserve Brut, Kent 2014Platinum, 97 points
£100/magnum Squerryes
Absolute classic, with a nose of bread, brioche, white peach and apple. Lovely integration on the palate, with crunchy cranberry, redcurrant and red apple skin notes and a long, satisfying finish. Mouthwateringly moreish. Alc 12%

Decanter World Wine Awards 2018

Camel Valley, Pinot Noir Rosé Brut, Cornwall 2015

Camel Valley, Pinot Noir Rosé Brut, Cornwall 2015Platinum, 97 points
£28-£36 Widely available
Lovely nose of peachy fruit and crunchy red berries. Elegant yet bursting with concentration, this has superb purity from start to finish and rounds off with a persistent mineral note. Alc 12.5%

Digby Fine English, Brut, Hampshire NV

Digby Fine English, Brut, Hampshire NVPlatinum, 97 points
£28-£32 Armit, Digby Fine English, Glug, Hic, Iconic Wines, Morgan Edwards, North & South, The Champagne Co, The Whisky Exchange, Virgin Wines
Toasty, nutty and biscuity nose with some evolution evident. The generous palate maintains tension with bright acidity, crisp green apple fruit and savoury marine notes. Long and intense on the finish. Alc 12%

Henners, Reserve Brut, East Sussex 2010

Henners, Reserve Brut, East Sussex 2010Platinum, 97 points
£33.85 Flagship Wines
Honey, mushroom and ripe apple: this really benefits from the additional age. The acid profile makes this distinctly English, and is complemented effectively with good texture and softness. Alc 12%

Decanter World Wine Awards 2017

Wiston Estate, Cuvée Brut, West Sussex 2013

Wiston Estate, Cuvée Brut, West Sussex 2013Platinum, 97 points
£110-£118/magnum Lea & Sandeman, The Champagne Co, The Finest Bubble, wistonestate.com
Beautiful nose with sweet autolytic character, caramel, ripe stone fruit, pear juice and salted bread notes to finish, with a full and harmonious richness of texture and good persistence. Alc 12%

Decanter World Wine Awards 2016

Gusbourne, Blanc de Blancs, Kent 2011

Gusbourne, Blanc de Blancs, Kent 2011Platinum, 97 points
£150-£193/magnum Carruthers & Kent, Gusbourne, Hedonism
Wonderfully evolved wine with an intense, captivating baked apple nose, secondary notes of lemon and greengage, and a powerful rich, round and creamy-textured palate. Ripe fruit flavours and buttered toast and honey notes harmonise well with the restrained acidity and tangy, savoury undercurrent. Alc 12%


DWWA 2021 results announced Wednesday 7 July on Decanter.com – Search all DWWA results


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