English Wine Week is upon us and this year there are more reasons than ever to raise a glass to the country’s burgeoning viticultural scene.
With growers planting some 3 million vines from Yorkshire to Kent and a tropical summer bringing ideal growing conditions last year there is a bumper crop to enjoy this summer from a market that is enjoying critical acclaim across the world.
Wine lovers from America, China, Japan and elsewhere have taken a keen interest in English produce, and for good reason. English sparkling wine bested champagne in certain notable blind tastings and a foray into still wine is causing a stir, so to speak, among respected commentators.
And with several big events on the horizon and the potential of some sun this week there has never been a better time to buy British. But if further convincing is required, we’ve picked out five reasons why this week is the best time to toast English wine.
One of the world’s fastest growing wine regions
According to new figures the UK is one of the fastest growing wine regions in the world, with 2018 seeing double the number of vines planted the year before. There has also been a 24 per cent increase in the land used for vines, with estimates suggesting we could be producing 40 million bottles per year very soon.
A bumper harvest
On top of that 2018 saw a bumper harvest for English growers. Alex Rabagliati, winemaker at Bolney Wine Estate, said the vineyard processed twice as many grapes in 2018 as it did in any previous vintage thanks to superb weather conditions that blighted wine growing regions further afield in mainland Europe.
English wine for the all-English finals
This week will see both the Europa League and Champions League finals contested by teams from the same country for the first time in history. Arsenal and Chelsea are due to battle it out in Baku tomorrow before Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur contest in Madrid on Saturday night, giving a perfect excuse to crack open a bottle of English to enjoy with the match.
England produces some excellent fizz (making up for 71 per cent of English wine sales), but there are some excellent still wines been produced too. We recently sampled an excellent Pino Gris from Bolney which also produces Pinot Noir, Bacchus and Lychgate Bacchus. Other high-quality reds, roses and whites can be found further afield too.
Award winning wines
English wine enjoyed a record year at the Decanter World Wine Awards, picking up an impressive 138 medals with three Best in Shows, four Platinums, four Golds, 85 Silvers and 42 Bronzes. There was an increase in each category on 2018, showing the potential we have growing on our own shores.