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English wine producers search for signs of royal favour

At least two English wine producers are on tenterhooks as they wait to see if their wine will be served at the Royal Wedding on Friday.

Camel Valley: ‘mysterious order’

In the wake of Decanter.com announcing the selection of Pol Roger NV as the official wedding Champagne, the Daily Mail has outed Kent vineyard Chapel Down as the ‘official’ English wine at the wedding party at Buckingham Palace.

At the same time, renowned Cornwall producer Bob Lindo of Camel Valley told Decanter.com he has had mysteriously large orders over the last few weeks.

‘We sent one order of the Bacchus and the pink Sparkling to Waitrose, and then sent them an extra pallet – another 540 bottles – immediately. We don’t know where it went after that.’

Camel Valley regularly supplies wine to Clarence House, the London residence of the Prince of Wales, but the Waitrose order was ‘unusual’, Lindo said.

For his part, Frazer Thompson, CEO of Chapel Down, is offering nothing more than a ‘no comment’.

As one observer pointed out, ‘Anyone who has dealt with the Palace knows that if you talk about it, you don’t deal with them again.’

Chapel Down is the biggest of the English wine producers, and it has received many accolades for its sparkling wines, including Decanter World Wine Awards Silver for its Pinot Reserve 2004.

But there are other producers which might be expected to come to the notice of Buckingham Palace.

At last year’s Decanter World Wine Awards, Sussex estate Ridgeview’s Grosvenor Blanc de Blancs 2006, for example, beat competition from five Champagnes, including the Taittinger Prélude NV, Charles Heidsieck Millésime 2000 and Thienot’s Brut Rosé NV to win International Trophy for Sparkling Wine Over £10.

English still wines trail behind their English sparkling counterparts in recognition, but they won high honours at the Decanter World Wine Awards 2010 – from dozens of Bronze and Highly Recommended medals to a handful of Silvers.

Ancre Hill Estates in Monmouthshire (technically a Welsh wine but English by legal definition) won Silver for its White Welsh Regional Wine 2008, as did Worcestershire’s Astley Domaine J2 Veritas 2007.

In Cornwall, Camel Valley’s Bacchus Dry 2009, Nottinghamshire’s Eglantine Vineyard North Star 2006, and Devon’s Sharpham Vineyard Barrel Fermented 2007, also won Decanter Siver Medals.

Such is the sense of solidarity amongst English wine producers there is no rancour at Chapel Down’s good fortune.

At Three Choirs Vineyard in Gloucestershire a spokesperson said, ‘We would be delighted if they chose any English wine.’

‘No one knows what’s happening,’ Lindo said. ‘If it is Chapel Down it will be great for them – but even if it turns not to be true, it will become an urban myth.’

Written by Adam Lechmere

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