(p. D4) . . . England, now in its third decade as a sparkling wine producer, is demonstrating that its bubbly output can be superb.
. . .
The early pioneers of English sparkling wine were bold, though idiosyncratic in the way of visionary entrepreneurs.
. . .
The growth in English sparkling wine is apparent all over the south of England. From Kent in the east through East and West Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset and as far west as Cornwall, new vineyards for sparkling wine are being planted at a dizzying rate. Winemakers who once imagined they were bound for France or Australia are instead staying home in England to make sparkling wine.
. . .
Nobody would mistake an English vineyard for one in Champagne. Walking through Gusbourne’s Boot Hill Vineyard with the winemaker Charlie Holland on a blustery, misty fall day, I noted that the rows of vines were far wider than one would find in Champagne, and the vines trained higher on their trellises.
In order to achieve ripeness in the colder English climate, the vines need to be planted less densely than in France, Mr. Holland said, to minimize the competition. And the vines need to have a denser canopy of leaves to promote photosynthesis, so the rows have to be wider apart so the leaves in one row won’t shade the fruit in another.
“It’s not the same parameters as in Champagne, and not the same ripeness levels,” Mr. Holland said.
Indeed, the Champagne region was once considered a marginal climate, on the blurry edge of the line at which grapes could reliably ripen. Thirty years ago, it was a struggle. Now, with climate change, the issue is whether Champagne is getting too warm.
The edge has now moved up to the south of England, where everybody agrees that the 2018 vintage was the biggest and best ever for sparkling wine.
“It was a fantastic, happy year for English wine,” said Tamara Roberts, chief executive of Ridgeview Estate in Sussex, a family operation that planted its first vines in the South Downs in 1995. It was so good that many estates spent the harvest scrambling for vats and tanks to hold the unexpected volume of wine.
For the full commentary, see:
Eric Asimov. “THE POUR; Great Bubbly From England, Believe It or Not.” The New York Times (Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2018): D4.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date Dec. 20, 2018.”)