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English blanc de blancs: expert’s choice

What better way to celebrate the arrival of spring than with a glass of crisp, quality sparkling wine? Susy Atkins says that blanc de blancs is the very finest of English wine styles – and here’s why.

Blanc de blancs: is it now England’s finest style of wine? I believe so, firmly.

The wines I have chosen here are all exquisite. And I could have happily recommended at least half a dozen more, had there been space.

Yet 20 years ago it wouldn’t have been possible to run this feature, which appeares in Decanter’s May 2021 issue.

A few decent English blanc de blancs were emerging (Nyetimber’s first release was a blanc de blancs in 1996), but nowhere near enough to fill these pages. So what has happened to produce this extraordinary burst of wonderful wines?

Scroll down to see tasting notes and scores for Susy Atkins’ top 18 English blanc de blancs

Stephen Skelton MW, a viticultural consultant specialising in England, believes the warmer climate has led to it.

‘When I started here in 1979, it was very difficult to ripen Chardonnay,’ he says. ‘In fact, until the turn of the century, we just didn’t get the sugar levels needed.’ Now, he says, the acids have dropped, and the sugar levels are way up – a result of more and hotter sunshine, and warmer night-time temperatures.

See Susy Atkins’ top 18 English blanc de blancs

See also: 

Expert’s Choice: Premium Spanish sparkling wines
Moët Hennessy’s latest rosé Champagne releases
First taste: Champagne Bollinger RD 2007
Blanc de Noirs vs Blanc de Blancs: What’s the difference?

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