Join us for a glass of English sparkling wine and three still samples, which we alternate every month.
Book in advance
ABOUT ENGLISH WINE
Whilst there is evidence that the Romans grew grapes and most definitely drank wine in England, this was more likely to have been for aesthetic purposes rather than wine making.
That is not to say that the English have sat idle ever since! Not only do we import approximately £1.7 billion bottles of wine a year but without us, wine as we know it might very different indeed.
The first person to document the containment of carbon dioxide which makes sparkling wine was English physicist Christopher Merret, who submitted a paper to the Royal Society explaining how sugar and molasses could be added to wines to make them sparkle and that stronger bottles were needed to withstand this secondary fermentation process. This was several decades before Dom Perignion’s famous declaration, “Come quickly – I am tasting the stars.” Another English man deserving of the accolade of influencing modern wine making, was courtier and diplomat, Sir Kenelm Digby, who is widely credited with being the inventor of the modern wine bottle, and the first to use corks to seal them. It was also an Englishman, Samuel Henshall, who first patented the corkscrew in 1795.
It was only after the second World War, however that English wine – as distinct from what is now referred to as British wine, which is essentially cheap concentrate from grapes grown all over the world then bottled in England– began to take shape. It was then that two pioneers, Ray Barrington Brock, a research chemist on a mission to discover the best grape varietals to grow in Britain, and Edward Hymans, an author on grape-vine cultivation in England, inspired the leap from amateur hobbyist’s interest to commercial viniculture.
In is on the back of these early amateur experiments, that Nyetimber, Gusbourne, Breaky Bottom and Ridgeview in Sussex, Camel Valley in Cornwall and Chapel Down in Kent have been able, to grow and win international awards and beat Champagnes with the main Champagne grapes – Pinot Meurnier, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – which grow particularly well when used in sparkling wine. Indeed, our climate is frequently cited as being the closest to what Champagne was in the 60s, when some of the best Champagnes were made.
In addition to the Champagne grape varietals, English wine is also made using rootstocks and hybrids from either northern France or Germany, which are similarly suited for the British climate. Increasingly, however, other grape varietals like Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are being made into more complex and exciting wines, with the industry attracting new and old world wine makers to make both still and sparkling wines.
What really makes English wine special however, is that English vineyards tend to be run by people who have already reached the peak of other professions – highly successful corporate finance professional Nicholas Coates; the English Managing Director of French insurance giant AXA Millésimes Christian Steely; savvy investor Eric Heerema – and who are combining their passion for wine with their drive, perspicacity and experience to ensure quality and drive the industry forward .
Thanks to people like these, the domestic wine industry is making leaps and bounds, and we are delighted to house all these wine under one roof where customers can taste, drink, buy, learn about and enjoy the very best English has to offer.