Marco Pierre White slams English fizz

The knives are out for Leeds-born celebrity chef Marco Pierre White, who has made a mockery of English sparkling wine, claiming only “a total numpty” would buy it.

As reported by The Telegraph, Pierre White, the youngest chef ever to be awarded three Michelin stars, made the disparaging comments during the launch of his new restaurant, Marco Pierre White Steakhouse, Bar and Grill, in Plymouth.

“English wine is nonsense. They are over-priced and not very good. The French make the best wine. The English just play at it. We keep hearing this about English sparkling wine. I am very happy for them.

“Better than Krug? Than Bollinger? No! Then why buy it, unless you are a total numpty? I am being honest. Just because something is English does not necessarily mean it is good,” he said.

“We make the best Cheddar, we make great pasties. But we can’t make very good brie or baguettes – and the French can’t make pork pies,” he added.

While English wine has failed to win Pierre White over, it was revealed this week that over half of the wines served at UK embassies around the world were home-grown.

English wines accounted for 52% of all wines bought for the government cellar last year to entertain heads of state at home and abroad.

“The UK produces some of the finest wines in the world, and we are committed to showcasing them to a global market,” a Foreign Office source told The Sun.

“Our food and drink products are more popular than ever and we shall continue to do all we can to support this vital sector, and create new export opportunities,” they added.

23 Responses to “Marco Pierre White slams English fizz”

  1. Matt says:

    Can we trust a chef who has such a bad photograph? seemingly showing self injurious behavior. Photos of chefs with knives are so 1980´s

  2. Richard says:

    He’s right though, isn’t he? There isn’t a single English sparkling wine that can hold a candle to the likes of Krug or Salon or Bollinger. In fact there aren’t any that can even compete with the likes of Pol Roger, Billecart Salmon or Louis Roederer NV to name just 3 from a list that would be rather long.

    Sure they have their place – above Prosecco and Cava and probably on a qualitative level with good Cremant or New World sparkling. They should embrace that and not pretend to be in the same league as champagne when they so clearly are not – but then I guess that’s the only way to justify the prices.

    As for the still wines. Well. The less said the better…

    • Shane Boyce says:

      You’re comparing English wine in general to some of the top houses in Champagne. I feel this is unfair for a couple of reasons. Firstly, compare the price of a bottle of Krug non vintage to a bottle of Nyetimber or Ridgeview- the latter 2 cost a fraction of the price. Compare these 2 wines to Champagnes at a similar price point such as Lanson, Veuve Yellow Label, Moet etc and many could legitimately argue that the 2 English wines are at least as good. In fact, both have scored higher in many blind tasting comparisons. Often I think this comes down to style. Being a more marginal climate, the vineyards tend to produce wines that are much more lean and taut.

      Secondly, English wine is a fledgling industry meaning the vast majority of vines are very young (hence not producing to their potential quality yet) and the best terroir is still being discovered. Give it a decade and we will know much more about the potential of English wine.

      I must also comment on your comparison with Prosecco and Cava- different grapes and in the case of Prosecco a different method of production. Comparisons with traditional method English sparkling have no relevance

      • Ned C says:

        You are quite right. The top of the range Champagnes cost far more than good British fizz so the comparison is specious.
        As for whites, Davenport dry white, for example, can put a lot of French white wines to shame.

    • Chris says:

      English sparkling wine is fantastic. The still has a long way to go but it is understanding that it is a different product. And If he is talking about krug and Bollinger then he has a whorishly rich taste in sparkling wine, which almost no English producers are making. Has he spoken to a sommelier about what to drink? Ie he should try Hattingley Valley Kings Cuvee with some barrel age because that is a similar style to krug…. and it’s unlikely he’s tried it in the right context if at all. If you put it in a blind with other similar priced champagne it would do very well.

  3. Domnic says:

    Funny he should bring this up this just as he has a new restaurant opening to publicise 😉

  4. David says:

    I could say the same thing about Marco Pierre-White’s food. I had a steak recently at one of his restaurants in Lincoln.
    The steak was tough….not cooked how I had requested it………..and over-priced. The whole experience was very underwhelming.

  5. Tom says:

    Sparkling English wines are world class as shown in many taste tastes. I think they are just about the only wines we do well. Let us keep in mind that they have been going a fraction of the time as many champagne houses, they are also infinitely cheaper than big brands such as Krug or Salon or even most Bollingers.
    Hambledon, Nyetimber and a few others should hold their heads high, making fantastic sparkling wine without the rules and restraints of Champagne. Surely the fact that Champagne houses are buying up land and vineyards in the south shows some interest from their lofty perches.

  6. Full disclosure, I represent Gusbourne in the USA. That said, at BevCon in Charleston last month, we held a blind tasting of English sparkling wines against Champagnes. The tasting room was full of highly qualified sommeliers and other trade buyers. I can say that it was absolutely impossible to determine which wines were English and which were Champagne. The guesses were all over the place but the overall consensus is that the English wines came out top. This is a consistent pattern, including a tasting done in Paris for a group of French Sommeliers where, in every category, the Somms voted the English ones the best and these French Somms thought those were the Champagnes. I would guess that Marco Pierre-White has not attended such a blind tasting. His words are publicity seeking, nothing more. They are certainly not the words from someone with a good palate and experience.

    • A says:

      Unless you state what wines were compared, your comment is worthless. My own experience is that English sparkling wines are barely at Cava quality, below most Cremants. It’s just laughable to compare them to Champagne. I doubt your example is more than a marketing puff.

      • These were the wines in the BevCon tasting:
        Blanc de Blancs: Gusbourne; Hattingley Valley; Nyetimber Tillington; Pierre Peters.
        Roses: Geoffroy Rose; Camel Valley.
        Others: Ayala, Bollinger. Ayala came bottom in the entire tasting.
        At the Paris tasting, I was not there, all Champagnes were Grande Marques.
        Suggesting that my comment is a marketing puff is rude. I gave full disclosure. Your comments about English sparkling wines show ignorance, clearly you’ve not tasted the best and if you have you don’t have much of a palate. I wrote this displaying my name. If you wish to reply, please identify yourself or we’ll assume you are Marco Pierre White trying to defend yourself. If you don’t identify yourself so that we know your credentials, everyone will know that you have none. Thanks

  7. Michael Rayment says:

    I too have recently eaten at 2 Pierre White eateries; one has now been sold. Both were very poor, both in quality of food and service. Thoroughly overpriced.
    His comments that English wine is for numpties are not only rude but inaccurate. What qualification does this chef have to make such comments about fine English wines? None that I am aware of.
    We all know how to react to the man who promotes stock cubes on tv, which allegedly he uses in his Michelin starred restaurants don’t we?
    Avoid his restaurants.

  8. Tony says:

    Isn’t MPW a has-been?

  9. Agree with many of the comments listed here. However re. English still wines there are also some good ones emerging, so not “the less said the better”. Bacchus can make really delicious Sauvignon Blanc / Verdejo style floral whites and with naturally lower alcohols. And A-list producers such as Chapel Down are doing good work with single vineyards and better known grapes, e.g. Chardonnay at Kit’s Coty. With double whammy of warming climate and a preference for cooler-climate wines, English table wines must surely be nudging more and more towards creating its own unique styles and hence wider recognition. What is unlikely to change in the near future is the pricing, due to a range of factors. So the domestic market does rely on a certain amount of patriotism, for still wines at least. Globally I get the impression that the word is already out on the top sparklings, which I believe are enjoying some success in New York and the Far East.

  10. chester says:

    Absolutely idiotic assumption.
    First off, I would like to know what is it based on and how many of the wines he has actually tasted?
    Comparing Krug to English sparkler is further than ridiculous. Chinese wines from Ningxia have following and some are far more expensive than Bordeaux. There is a market for it.
    Secondly, it has been reported by The Telegraph, which has as much relevance to wine, as Decanter has to current politics. Though MPW has been awarded the Michelin stars, he runs 20+ steakhouses, so has much authority as Tesco on Fine Dining.
    Thirdly, the quote: “The French make the best wine.” wow, really? Says who? The chef advertising bouillon cubes on TV? Please.
    Last, but not least: “Better than Krug? Than Bollinger? No! Then why buy it, unless you are a total numpty? in the same train of thought, is Tesla better than Porsche or Mercedes? No! Then why buy it, unless you are a total numpty.

    All of which said by a total numpty, WHO USED TO BE RELEVANT. Twat.

  11. Mark Swift says:

    We all lost control of our bodily functions at Carr Taylor Vineyards when we read this….like we must all follow blindly someone whose palate is in tune with Knorr Stock Pots! The best wines in the world are those YOU LIKE so why give a damn what any so-called critic thinks!!

  12. A says:

    He’s right – an entire industry supported by jingoism. Reflects poorly on the Brits.

  13. Feyler Frederic says:

    Clearly MPW hasn’ t participated in many professional wine tastings. I worked as head sommelier in a michelin starred restaurant for ten yrs and have been a wine merchant for 20 yrs. When I met MPW in 2011 , he admitted that he did not get involved with the wine requirements for his business .For a head chef,a lack of enthusiasm in this area speaks volumes.I have closely followed the progress of English wines for the last 25 yrs , and strongly support the findings of those in the know in 2012 that out of 500 still and sparkling English wines at a major professional London tasting , one hundred wines were considered world class by an International panel of experts.I am very surprised at MPW comment , as so many of top chefs in London really appreciate the quality of the English wines they feature.

  14. Feyler Frederic says:

    In the last 30 yrs , I ve met and worked with some very good chefs, and restaurateurs and they appreciate the qualities of good wines.In the early 90 s , the Swiss and English wines made a big push to get into the gastronomic restaurants and we had big trade tastings , and the wines were a bit expensive as the production is quite small.Then English wines tried to get more numbers into retail esp with big vineyards like Denbies, and now they are back into the trade with great sparkling.

  15. Could it be that the commenter referenced as “A” and Marco Pierre-White are the same person? The language “total numpty”, “marketing puff”, “jingoism” have enough commonality but the ignorance and attitude displayed by both individuals are remarkably the same!

  16. Feyler Frederic says:

    it is true that nytimber and some other great english sparkling have beaten some very good champagnes in blind tastings and that s great . I ll say one thing in defence of MPW that I know that he likes wines like Cht Musar , a great full flavoured wine estate , iconic from Lebanon , and not exactly the style of elegance and finesse of the best English sparklings, which are I think as good as many french cremant ( the a o c for french sparklings wines made like Champagne but outside the Champagne region).It is a very northern climate in uk and that s why the reds struggle to ripen to the full.Concerning the still whites they neede more sun to ripen regularly .But in the recent few years , and with the global warming and more progress in technology to protect the whites from oxydation, In Roman times there were 400 vineyards in uk , and not even 50 in the 1970s .But it started aghain in the 80s and many english winemakers were trained in Germany and make 2 types of still whites ; the Loire style , dry and fruity and the german style , off delicate and well balanced.In anyway it is laughable to compare the uncomparable, It s like comparing the OXO cube with the fresh stock your french granny has left on the slow boil all night.

  17. David says:

    Why is it so hard ti believe that England is banging out top quality sparkling. Denbies and others have terrior and climate very similar to Champagne. In a few years with more experience and experimenting english sparkling wines, if not already, will be wines to be reckoned with.
    “Only a numpty”? How foolish and naive to think so.

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