Close Menu

Laithwaite’s yields grapes for top English sparklers

The combined forces of families Laithwaite and Roberts are source of England’s best sparkling wines according to a tasting in London last week.

In second place was Theale Blanc de Blancs from a tiny vineyard planted on builder’s rubble outside the Laithwaite’s head office

In a blind tasting of 75 English sparkling wines, three Champagnes and one Californian fizz on 28 February, the two highest-scoring labels used grapes from vineyards owned by mail-order retailer Laithwaites and employing the winemaking expertise of Mike Roberts at the Ridgeview Wine Estate.

Indeed, Roberts’ own Ridgeview Cavendish and Grosvenor Blanc de Blancs came in fourth and sixth place respectively.

The top scoring wine, the Wyfold Vineyard 2009, is from a one-hectare plot in the Chiltern Hills established by Barbara Laithwaite and her friend Cherry Thompson, and made at the Ridgeview winery by Roberts.

Second place was also from the Laithwaite’s stable and made at the same winery.

Called Theale Blanc de Blancs 2007, Stephen Skelton MW, organiser of the tasting, said that the sparkling wine was from a “tiny vineyard planted on builder’s rubble,” which is based just outside the Laithewaite’s head office in Theale.

Other high-scorers included Breaky Bottom 2008 Cuvée Princess Colonna which came in third place, and new name to the English sparkling wine scene, Wiston, which came in fifth.

Made by former Nyetimber winemaker Dermot Sugrue, this latter label was taken on by Corney & Barrow in May last year, becoming the fine wine merchant’s first exclusive English wine agency.

Of the non-English sparkling wines, Roederer’s Californian sparkling “Quartet” scored the highest, with the non-vintage brut coming in the seventh place, and the cheapest label in the top 10.

Next was Waitrose Blanc de Blancs Champagne in tenth place, Taittinger’s brut NV in 14th, and Devaux’s Oeil de Perdrix rosé, which came in at 21st.

Wyfold Vineyard came top in the tasting

Speaking of the results, Skelton said, “Once again the best UK sparkling wines are more than a match for non-UK sparkling wines.”

However, he added, “Less than one mark separated many of the top wines”, with wines 3 to 45 “separated by one point”.

Having said that, he stressed the supremacy of the Laithwaite’s wines. “The top two wines were clearly out in front with the Wyfold getting over 0.6 of a point higher than any other wine and being the top wine for four tasters, and the Theale almost half a point higher than the next wine, and again, being the top wine of three tasters.”

Looking to the future, Skelton added, “Given that Laithwaites/Direct Wines now have the vineyard in Windsor Great Park, plus son Henry Laithwaite’s vineyard at Pump Lane, Marlow, I feel sure the name Laithwaite will be attached to more winners in years to come.”

Click here to see the top 10 highest scoring wines from The Judgement of Parsons Green – which is now in its third year – and here to see numbers 11-20.

Below is a list of the tasters who scored the wines:

Essi Avellan MW
Richard Bampfield MW
Susie Barrie MW
Sue Daniels
Michael Edwards
Giles Fallowfield
Susanna Forbes
Nancy Gilchrist MW
Richard Hemming
Rebecca Hull MW
Justin Howard-Sneyd MW
Charles Metcalfe
Julia Stafford
Tom Stevenson
Julia Trustram Eve
Stephen Skelton MW

The top 10 highest-scoring wines in the Judgement of Parsons Green:

1 – Wyfold Vineyard 2009 (£24.99)
2 – Theale Blanc de Blancs 2007 (£24.95)
3 – Breaky Bottom Cuvée Princess Colonna 2008 (£24.50)
4 – Ridgeview Cavendish 2010 (£24.95)
5 – Wiston South Downs Cellars Bin 3 2009 (£23.95)
6 – Ridgeview Grosvenor Blanc de Blancs 2010 (£29.95)
7 – Roederer Estate Quartet NV (£21.99)
8 – Bluebell Estates Hindleap Rosé 2010 (£25)
9 – Camel Valley Pinot Noir Rosé Brut 2009 (£24.95)
10 – Waitrose Blanc de Blancs Champagne NV (£23.99)

Numbers 11-20 in the Judgement of Parsons Green:

11 – Henners Vintage Reserve 2009 (£29)
12 – Henners Vintage 2009 (£27)
13 – Plumpton The Dean Blush Brut (£22)
14 – Taittinger Brut NV (£35)
15 – Chapel Down English Rose (£18.99)
16 – Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2008 (£28.99)
17 – Jenkyn Place Rosé 2009 (£27)
18 – Meopham Sparkling Brut 2008 (£23.50)
19 – Chapel Down Rosé Brut NV (£24.99)
20 – Ridgeview M&S Marksman 2009 (£22)

It looks like you're in Asia, would you like to be redirected to the Drinks Business Asia edition?

Yes, take me to the Asia edition No