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Is English Sparkling Wine any good?

To kick things off, you may have heard that little old Greyfriars will be going head to head with some of Champagne’s top producers, including the likes of Laurent-Perrier, Pommery and Tattinger, at The Bubbly Show , {10-11} Carlton House Terrace, just off Pall Mall, hosted by our wonderful partners Searcy’s on 23rd and 24th June.

With talks throughout both days of the event, the one we are most looking forward to is "England vs France, Battle of The Bubbles" where Spectator’s wine writer, Jonathan Ray, will facilitate an interactive session pitting the two countries against each other, accompanied by a tantalising tasting experience for guests to enjoy. Tickets for the show and this particular talk are available to purchase and you can do so by clicking here.

Now, let’s address the elephant in the room - English Sparkling Wine? Can it compete? Well, hold on to your corks, my friend, because we’re here to tell you that English Sparkling Wine is definitely worth a try.

When it comes to bubbly, it’s usually all about Champagne and Prosecco and while they, and English Sparkling Wine, may look similar, they each have their own unique characteristics that set them apart from one another.

Champagne is of course the most famous and widely recognised of the three. Along with many of the English Sparkling Wine producers, Champagne is made using a traditional method called Méthode Champenoise (or Traditional Method), which involves a second fermentation in the bottle giving it its signature fine bubbles and complex flavour profile.

Prosecco, on the other hand, is an Italian sparkling wine that is known for its light, fruity taste and more affordable price point. It also has a different production method, one called the Charmat method, which involves a second fermentation in large tanks and bottling under pressure, ultimately making it cheaper to produce and results in larger, less persistent bubbles and a simpler flavour profile.

So, what gives English Sparkling Wine, and in particular Greyfriars Sparkles, an edge in the David vs Goliath fight between these three and why do many wine critics now agree that while English Sparkling Wine has its own style and character, it rivals Champagne in terms of quality and complexity?


Well, for one thing, it's made in England, which despite not being known for its sunny weather, our cooler climate is actually great for growing the grapes that are used to make sparkling wine. This is because, when it comes to it, you actually need higher levels of acidity and less fruity flavours which you can only get in areas where grapes struggle to fully ripen. This adds to the complexity and is actually more aligned with what Champagne was producing 20-30 years ago when the effects of global warming were less!

Sadly, this has led to many producers in more traditional growing regions finding it increasingly difficult to produce the highest quality sparkling wine, because as their grapes ripen more and more each year, they are losing those desired, higher acidity levels.

Did you know: In Italy, between 1964 and 2009, the average temperature during the growing season (April-October) increased by 2.4°C. This has led to earlier budburst, earlier veraison and a longer growing season, resulting in riper grapes less suited for sparkling wine.


Secondly, as discussed in our previous blog, our chalky soil found here Greyfriars is the same to that found in the Champagne region. While chalky soil may not seem like the most exciting topic, it plays a crucial role in making some seriously tasty English Sparkling Wine.


Finally, our Greyfriars mindset goes a long way in distinguishing ourselves from local and global competition. We’re on a mission to provide the best value for money English Sparkling Wine whilst at the same time enjoying ourselves as we try to do things a little differently. Take our 2017 Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, (known as ‘SB’) ever heard of one of those before? Or what about our still white Pinot Noir that is due to be launched in August – but that’s a red grape!

Of course, making sparkling wine in England isn't without its challenges. Vineyards have to deal with unpredictable weather (hello rain!), massive disease threats such as Downy and Powdery Mildew, and pests like rabbits and deer can wreak havoc on the vines. But despite these hardships, English Sparkling Wine has been steadily gaining popularity over the past few years, and for good reason.

(Plug incoming…) Take our 2016 Cuvée Royale for example. According to world-renowned wine critic Matthew Jukes in his article for Vineyard Magazine, it is "the most exciting, desirable and finest-value vintage sparkling wine in England." That's high praise indeed!


So, should you stick or twist? It really depends on your personal taste and preferences and obviously we will have a little bias… but, English Sparkling Wine is a great choice for those who want to try something new and exciting, while still enjoying the complexity and quality of a traditional method bubbly similar to that of Champagne. It’s a great conversation starter and will surely stir up a bit of chatter at any wine fuelled get-together. This is because English Sparkling Wine has its own unique character thanks to our lovely (or, just colder) climate, and we believe it is definitely worth trying if you haven't already.

If you're looking for a standout example, you can't go wrong with our 2016 Cuvée Royale. Just make sure you get your hands on a bottle before they're all gone as we only made 3400!

P.S. Wish us luck in our David vs Goliath clash of the titans – we’re up against some very tough competition!

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