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14 best English sparkling wines

Move over Champagne, England is holding its own in the bubbly stakes

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It’s only relatively recently that English fizz has started getting a name for itself, but how quickly we have caught up, with our sparkling wines now winning international wine awards and vineyards springing up all over the place. Many are every bit as good as – and sometimes better than – Champagne. So dust off those flutes and pour yourself a glass of England’s best bubbles.

1. Nyetimber Brut Classic Cuvée 2009: £27.50,

Nyetimber, a pale gold and beautifully-balanced blend of chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier from the South Downs, is fast becoming a household name in the world of English bubbly. It’s made by the traditional Champagne method (where the second fermentation is done in the bottle so the excess carbon dioxide doesn’t escape) and has received many accolades, most notably a gold medal and overall trophy for English sparkling wine in last year’s International Wine Challenge.

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2. Ridgeview Blanc de Noir 2010: £31.95,

Another award-winner, this gold-coloured fizz is only made from red grapes – a style which is particularly fashionable in France at the moment – giving it more weight and power. Expect red fruit aromas, while the earthy, almost-savoury characters make it very food-friendly, pairing particularly well with light game meats and lamb.

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3. Pebblebed Sparkling White: £24.95,

This beat several big players at the South West Vineyard Association Competition, scooping the gold award. It differs from others produced in the South West in that it is made from Seyval Blanc grapes rather than the Champagne varieties, which aren’t suitable for the wetter and cooler Devon weather. Expect a delicate yet lively wine, with crisp apple flavours.

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4. Knightor Sparkling Rosé: £33,

Get out your best Champagne flutes for this delicious, pale salmon-coloured sparkling rosé, which is made from a blend of the best vintages — principally Pinot Noir and Pinot Meurnier. It’s sophisticated and fresh, with delicate raspberry flavours and tiny, persistent bubbles.

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5. Fortnum’s English Sparkling Wine Camel Valley: £26.50,

This bubbly has scooped plenty of international awards and is a real crowd-pleaser, as well as going a treat with fish. It’s fruity, yet fresh, with a really elegant finish. The Cornwall vineyard is run by the Lindo family, who planted their first vines in 1989.

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6. Sharpham Sparkling Pink 2010: £25.95,

This wine, which uses Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc grapes, is made in the traditional Champagne method, aged on the lees in the bottle for a minimum of nine months. It’s fantastically floral and delicate on the nose, while tasting reveals strawberry and zesty citrus.

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7. Herbert Hall Brut 2012: £27.30,

This is a favourite of Dom Perignon brand ambassador Tom Harrow and it’s served at The Ivy, which pretty much says it. Unlike some of its competitors, this elegant English wine is entirely handmade. A blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, it is produced in tiny quantities and all bottles are dated and initialled by hand.

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8. Gusbourne Brut Reserve 2010: £27.95,

Not all producers of English wines grow their own grapes and even those that do have their own vineyards often buy in additional grapes. But every Gusbourne wine comes exclusively from their own vineyards, a south-facing ancient escarpment in Appledore, Kent, where the microclimate is high sunshine, low rainfall and where the site is low lying, with soils not unlike those of Champagne. We love their Brut Reserve, which is fresh and vibrant. 

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9. Henners Brut 2010: £27.25,

Outstanding flowering conditions in 2010 produced a fantastically ripe crop for this vineyard, which – like Gusbourne - only uses fruit grown here for its wines. Our favourite is this award-winner, which has had four years in the bottle before release, a long time by English sparkling wine standards. Expect a clean, classic wine, with ripe fruit, herbs and aniseed on the nose, a full palate, fine balance and a toasted sweet almond finish.

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10. Carr Taylor Brut 2008: £21.99,

Made from grapes from some of the oldest vines in the country, this epitomises the purity and elegance of English fruit. It’s racy and fresh, with a hint of lime and biscuit on the nose and crisp green apple and elderflower on the palette. There’s a long finish, and it’s great value as the cheapest in our round-up.

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11. Balfour 1503 Rosé NV: £29.98,

This delicious rosé is the perfect summer aperitif, although if you fancy a bite to eat with it, it’s a seriously good match with anything from light salads and seafood to venison sausages.  The wine is part of a new range that also includes a white Classic Cuvée. Both are produced from fruit grown on Hush Heath Estate in Kent, hand harvested for top quality. Fruity and fresh with summer berries and citrus, it is a gorgeous rose petal colour. 

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12. Hoffmann and Rathbone Rosé Réserve 2011 Brut: £38,

This small family-run boutique winery produces exclusive, limited production wines from its vineyards across Sussex, using traditional bottle fermentation and years of cellar ageing. We love their Rosé Réserve, an award-winning salmon-pink wine with notes of strawberry, red fruits, peach, nectarine and rose petals on the palate, with a bright, lemony finish. Sold by allocation only and splendidly summery.

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13. Chapel Down Blanc de Blanc 2009: £26.99,

This intensely-flavoured wine from one of the leading producers of English sparkling wine is a fabulous alternative to Blanc de Blanc Champagne. From a particularly good vintage, it is made from 100 per cent Chardonnay grapes, sourced from Westerham in Kent, and is fabulous with fish, smoked salmon or oysters – and great on its own too.

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14. Furleigh Classic Cuvee 2011: £28.50,

Made from a combination of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes, this deep-flavoured, pale salmon-coloured wine is buttery and creamy, with lots of fresh apple going on. A great alternative to a glass of champers, especially on a hot summer’s day, it has a particularly lovely long finish.

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Our top choice would be Ridgeview Blanc de Noir 2010, with Fortnum’s English Sparkling Wine coming a close second.


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