2016 vintage ‘better in England than Champagne’

English sparkling wines will outperform those of Champagne in the 2016 vintage, Naked Wines has predicted.

Hambledon owner Ian Kellett says 2016 could be the best vintage in a hundred years in England

The crowdfunding wine retailer said that the record-breaking summer in the UK has led to the ripest, most concentrated and highest quality grape crop in the UK “in decades”.

In contrast, Naked Wines said, winegrowers in northern France have experienced one of the toughest vintages in recent years, with frost, hail and drought affecting quality and yields in Champagne, Chablis and Sancerre regions.

Naked Wines forecasted that 2016 would be England’s “vintage of the century” for the English winemakers in its portfolio, with consistent warm temperatures, low rainfall and a September heat wave resulting in an outstanding growing year for English wine producers.

The company pointed to the the two-year reserve of water in the chalk soils of some of England’s top sparkling wine producers as contributing to what would be a “brilliant” harvest.

In France, by contrast, a warm spring left vine buds in areas of France vulnerable to attack when hail and frost hit northern France in early May, particularly affecting Champagne, Chablis and Sancerre, Naked Wines said.

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Naked Wines recently launched wines from two new English winemakers: Charles and Ruth Simpson – owners of Domaine Sainte Rose in the Languedoc – and ex-City banker Ian Kellett, owner and winemaker of Hambledon Vineyard, who makes Old Winchester Hill Blanc de Blanc NV and Old Winchester Hill Oeil de Pedrix NV for Naked Wines.

“For the first time in English winemaking history, weather conditions have favoured English winemaking more than our French neighbours,” Eamon Fitzgerald, MD of Naked Wines UK commented.

“We believe the brilliant 2016 vintage and weaker sterling mean there’s never been a better time than to pile in to our own produce.”

Kellett added: “Should the weather keep this up it looks likely to be one of the best vintages of the last 100 years in England – this would most certainly overtake many regions of France in quality and quantity.

“It’s an exciting time to be part of English Wine and I’m looking forward to tasting the results of a brilliant British summer.”

Over the past five years sales of sparkling wines have risen by 80% in the UK, according to UHY Hacker Young.

English wine producers are also rapidly expanding their export reach. Last month the drinks business reported on the British Bottle Company sending its first full 20ft container of English wine – more than 5,000 bottles of fizz – to the US in August.

The deal marked an important step towards fulfilling UK wine producers’ commitment to achieve a tenfold increase in exports of English wine by 2020, helping to increase their value to over £30 million.

2 Responses to “2016 vintage ‘better in England than Champagne’”

  1. Jiles Halling says:

    It’s true that there has been some poor weather in France but it’s very early to speculate about the quality of the wine from this year’s harvest, I can’t help feeling that any serious wine maker would say that until the fermentation has taken pace and the wine has had time to develop a little, it is foolhardy to offer any firm predications

  2. Lee Capeling says:

    I’m currently in Champagne and have been speakin to many growers. Whilst yes it has been a very difficult year which has resulted in lower yields; most are more than happy with the quality of grapes they have. It would appear that 2016 has the potential to be a very exciting year.

    Why this constant need to make statements suggesting English sparkling wine is/will be better than champagne? If the English wine industry wants the consumer to be convinced of its merits then please don’t look to imitate or compare with other regions. Be proud of what you have and look to promote yourself as a quality and exciting region in your own right.

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