Dorset sparkling takes top spot in tasting

17th March, 2014 by Patrick Schmitt

Dorset’s Langham Estate has come top  in an annual blind tasting of almost 100 English sparkling wines which was held in the UK this month.


Langham Estate did “exceptionally well” in 2014’s Judgement of Parson’s Green

The competition is organised by winemaker and English wine consultant Stephen Skelton MW, who named it The Judgement of Parson’s Green after its location in west London and in reference to the famous Cabernet tasting competition held in Paris in 1976.

Now in its fourth year, Skelton said that this year’s scores for the top 10 English sparklings was higher than ever before, up almost a whole point to average 17.25 out of 20, demonstrating, he noted, “the increase in quality of the best wines”.

Langham Estate was described by Skelton as doing “exceptionally well”, taking top spot for its Classic Cuvée from the 2010 vintage, and eighth place for its 2010 Blanc de Noirs.

The producer is based near Dorchester in Dorset, and the wines are made by Liam Idzikowski using grapes grown on Bingham’s Melcombe estate – a historic house and 1000-acre farm – which was bought by John Langham in 1980.

Other relatively new producers who did well in this year’s competition according to Skelton were Henners, Wiston, Wyfold and Hattingley.

On the other hand he noted that the more established producers were less evident, although Ridgeview had two wines in the top ten and Bluebell and Camel Valley one each.

Coming in the top 20 were some newcomers, Court Garden, East Meon and Waitrose’s Leckford Estate – with their very first wine – along with longstanding English sparkling wine brands such as Gusbourne, Meopham, Meonhill, Pebblebed and Sharpham.

Skelton pointed out that “Ridgeview, as ever, were involved with several winning wines (five in the top twenty by my reckoning) and Dermot Sugrue, winemaker at Wiston, can also be pleased with the results: a total of seven of his wines (Wiston wines or wines made under contract) came in the top 30.”

This year’s tasting included 94 English Sparkling Wines from forty-seven different producers, which were scored by Richard Bampfield MW, Susie Barrie MW (Winchester Wine School), Giles Fallowfield (wine writer specialising in Champagne), David Furer (wine writer from Texas), Mike Harrison (Head Sommelier at Hotel du Vin, Henley), Richard Hemming (MW student and tasting for, Rebecca Hull MW (wine buyer for Waitrose), Justin Howard-Sneyd MW (working with Direct Wines – Laithwaites), Charles Metcalfe (IWC and wine writer), Joanna Simon (wine writer), Margaret Rand (wine writer), Julia Trustram Eve (English Wine Producers), and Stephen Skelton himself.

Skelton also highlighted that wines from the classic Champagne varieties took all of the top spots, with the first non-Champagne variety (a Seyval blanc) appearing at number 13, while the next non-Champagne variety wine didn’t appear until 32nd place: a Seyval blanc, Rondo rosé.

Furthermore, he noted, “The rosés as a class did especially well with 18 out of the 24 entered making the cut into the top 45 wines – a far higher proportion than any other category – showing what a valuable style this can be for UK winegrowers.”

The top 30 wines can be seen on the following page.

6 Responses to “Dorset sparkling takes top spot in tasting”

  1. bob Lindo says:


    some of the producers that you say were in the top 10, weren’t and some that you don’t mention, were. Here is the top 10:

    1 Langham Classic Cuvée 2010

    2 Henners Brut 2010
    3 Bluebell Hindleap Rosé 2010

    = 4 Ridgeview Estate Grosvenor Blanc de Blancs 2010

    = 4 Wiston Rosé NV = 4 Wyfold Wyfold Brut 2010

    7 Ridgeview Estate Knightsbridge Blanc de Noirs 2010

    8 Langham Blanc de Noirs Reserve 2010 Pinot noir

    9 Hattingley Valley Classic Cuvée 2011 Chardonnay

    10 Camel Valley White Pinot 2005 Pinot noir

  2. Patrick Schmitt says:

    Apologies, that should say top 20 – I’ve now corrected that. And the top 30 are listed on the following page.
    Thank you

  3. phil ocksera says:

    Would love to know where Wiston is available at only £24.95!! I am not aware of it being cheaper than £32.50, most retailers price it at £32.95. The wholesale price cannot be much less than £24.95!

  4. Dear Phil
    The Non Vintage range of Wiston wines (priced at £24.95) are available from South Downs Cellars in Hurstpierpoint, as are the Vintage range Cuvee 2010 and Rose 2011 at £32.95 and £35.95 respectively. Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you require any further information!

  5. phil ocksera says:

    Thanks for that. Am surprised SDC still have some available. I only glanced at the table and did not notice all the Wiston wines were NV. No doubt you cannot wait til next year, so the ‘proper’ Wiston wines will be incuded. And maybe Sugrue-Pierre too?
    (p.s. time to get the steed oiled!)

  6. Hi Phil
    We have only just launched the Wiston NV range of sparkling wines very recently so they are not widely available as yet. Locally, Lucy is stocking them all at both her shops in Hurstpierpoint and Lindfield and Nick too at Sussex Produce Company, Steyning. Naturally I was delighted that 3 of the Wiston NV range came in the top 30 of this tasting – shows we have a pretty strong line-up at this price point – alongside the Wiston vintage wines and of course, Sugrue Pierre. Overall, the stable is looking quite good right now…

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