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English sparkling wine: Panel tasting

A strong performance from Sussex and Hampshire, and many high scores, though winemaking choices and England’s variable weather continue to play a dominant role, as Sylvia Wu and Stephen Skelton MW report...

The verdict

Vintage variation, use of oak and the choice of variety played a more crucial part than regionality in shaping the quality of these new-release English sparkling wines, our experts found. The tasters identified high overall quality among the varied styles and vintages of the 53 wines tasted, with half (26) hitting the mark for Highly Recommended and one achieving Outstanding.

Entry criteria: Producers and UK agents were invited to submit their latest-release English sparkling wines (white styles only, vintage or NV) priced at £50 or under

Top 27 English sparkling wines from the panel tasting:

The following wines scored 90 points and above

The judges

Susie Barrie MW
A widely published wine writer, author and broadcaster, Barrie’s credits include more than a decade on BBC1. She has authored several books, including The Essential Guide to English Wine, co-written with her husband Peter Richards MW. Together the pair also co-host the annual Wine Festival Winchester.

Freddy Bulmer
Having worked for two wine merchants in Yorkshire, Bulmer moved to The Wine Society in 2013, working his way up to start as a buyer in early 2017. He is now responsible for buying the Society’s wines from Austria, Eastern Europe, England, Australia and New Zealand, as well as beers and ciders.

Stephen Skelton MW
Skelton is a consultant to the English and Welsh wine industry, wine educator and awarded author. After studying in Germany, in 1977 he established Tenterden Vineyards in Kent, making wine there for 22 years. The DWWA Regional Chair for the UK, his latest book is The Wines of Great Britain (Infinite Ideas, May 2019).

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