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English winery slams Westminster bubbles

One of the English wine industry’s largest producers has hit out at UK Members of Parliament for showing such an unpatriotic approach to their cellar.

Chapel Down CEO Frazer Thompson. Photo credit: Steve-Burton-photography

Chapel Down CEO Frazer Thompson criticised MPs for being “shockingly out of touch” after the drinks business revealed that of the 25,205 bottles of sparkling wine bought for the House of Commons’ cellars over the last four years, just 48 bottles were English.

“English wine has never been more popular,” he reported. “We sell everything that we can produce at Chapel Down and, as has been repeatedly shown, our quality is at least as good as the Champagne that MPs apparently insist on quaffing.”

Thompson’s comments were echoed by Jamie Everett, COO of Rathfinny Estate, a major recent addition to the English wine scene. Describing the current situation as “shocking”, he remarked: “Not only is English sparkling wine winning numerous awards internationally, critically acclaimed and attracting devoted followers but it is also far better value for money than similar quality Champagnes.

“The MP’s are paying more and getting less for imported wines when they should be enjoying awarding winning Sussex sparkling from their doorstep. It is wrong on so many levels.”

The rising profile of English sparkling wine is being supported by a major growth push from a number of brands, including Chapel Down, which aims to add an extra million bottles to its production after raising almost £4 million through a crowdfunding initiative earlier this year.

With English producers receiving none of the tax relief that their counterparts in Europe enjoy, Thompson highlighted the significant sums levied on his business by the same government whose MPs then support foreign sparkling wine competitors.

“Chapel Down will have contributed well over £2.4m to the Exchequer in duty and VAT alone this year, and gave us all something to feel proud about,” remarked Thompson. “So it’s particularly galling to see MPs’ celebrate by giving their sparkling wine orders to France and Italy.”

Despite this criticism, he praised the support shown to English wine elsewhere within Westminster, noting: “Other parts of government are up to speed with what the people want and are doing their bit for Britain. Over half of the wine served at official government functions is English and we’re hugely grateful for this support.”

Calling on MPs to follow this example, Thompson concluded: “Bubbles in the Westminster bubble should be English.”


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