Archive for September, 2011

Upperton and Sedlescombe vineyards join Sparkling English Wine’s growing range…

Sep. 30th 2011

Sedlescombe's Bodiam Castle Vineyard


Following Sparkling English Wine’s recent inaugural tasting panel held in the banquet room of the beautiful 14th century manor house at Mill Place, Kingscote, we are pleased to announce that added to the site are two more producers of excellent sparkling wines. We hold a regular tasting panel consisting of wine industry people, including a Master of Wine, international wine judge and a top winemaker, all of whom are specialists in sparkling wine. This panel helps to evaluate producers’ wines before we add them onto the site, a sort of quality assurance step to ensure that the wines we promote are of excellent standards.


There were a total of six producers whose wines were successful in the tasting, and the first two to be added to the site are Sedlescombe Organic Vineyard, and Upperton, from East and West Sussex respectively. Keep checking back to see the next four over the coming weeks…


Sedlescombe Organic Vineyards are based near Robertsbridge in the depths of the East Sussex countryside and has a number of vineyard sites, the most striking of these being the Bodiam Castle site (above). With 23 acres of organically grown vines, Roy and Irma Cook have been making wine in Sussex for over 30 years now. Their organic practices make them one of a minority of vineyards in the UK to be producing top quality still and sparkling wines. The Sedlescombe Organic Cuvée Rosé Brut 2008, listed on the site, is a fruity and well structured wine, offering subtle aromas of quince, with excellent appley acidity.



Upperton are located near Petworth in the beautiful rolling hills of West Sussex, with a fantastic view of the South Downs to the south. The vineyard is owned and managed by the Rogers family, who planted it in 2005. With 32,000 vines in 10 hectares, the vineyard is a fair size and is managed in as natural a way as possible. Organic and integrated vineyard management techniques allow the best fruit possible to reach the winery solely with the view of sparkling wine production. The Nebula 2009 is Upperton’s first release and offers the drinker a well made, perfect example of an English sparkling wine.


Have a look at the new producers’ pages to find out more about each of them, their vineyards and the chance to buy their excellent wines.


We have four more producers and four more wines to add to the site in coming weeks, growing our portfolio of excellent quality English sparkling wines even further. Stay tuned by joining our mailing list, and / or with our twitter and Facebook to keep up to date with our news and special offers…



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Hush Heath host Riedel’s search for the perfect English sparkling wine glass

Sep. 27th 2011

Georg Riedel, head of the Riedel glass empire, stood at the front of the room and explained how a glass is like an item of clothing that can help accentuate what its contents merits. We had 16 different ‘outfits’ in which to try two different English sparkling wines, with the aim of finding the most suitable glass.


I have been a keen believer in what Riedel do since my first sniff and sip test with their glasses a number of years ago. I was excited to be asked to come and take part in the workshop at Hush Heath’s brilliant winery in Kent to discover the best glass for an English fizz…


For those who don’t know Riedel and what their glasses do, I’ll give a little intro: Whether it be grape variety or region, Riedel create glasses to help accentuate the merits of different wines through the vessel in which it is drunk. The shape of the glass, the angle of the wine’s entry to the mouth or the volume of wine allowed by the glass to enter the mouth. All of these factors are hugely important when it comes to appreciating a wine. What I find most fascinating, other than the difference in aroma that one wine can have from another just because of its glass, is the way the wine enters your mouth and is automatically distributed to a particular area or areas in the mouth. Different areas of the mouth recognise different components in wine, e.g. acidity and tannins around the gums, or secondary aromas at the back of the mouth. Each Riedel glass creates a differently shaped ‘tongue’ of wine which will go to a particular area, e.g. the Riedel Sauvignon blanc glass has a very thin tongue, which shoots the fairly acidic yet aromatic wine straight to the back of the mouth, avoiding the acidity causing the production of too much saliva around the gums, and allowing the aromas to be picked up by the palate at the back of the mouth. How various glasses would affect top quality fizz from a couple of producers here in England was a question I’d been pondering for a while…



Hush Heath Manor house and gardens


We were received by the jolly Richard Balfour-Lynn, owner and figurehead of the fabulous Hush Heath brand. With a number of other wine industry bods, we were guided around his meticulous garden, and down through the vines (which are looking really healthy and whose grapes taste great) to the winery. Waiting for the cohort in the winery was a spectacular array of glasses laid out in front of 25 seats.



Riedel's glasses all lined up and ready for tasting some great wines...



The first wine being used as the guinea pig for the glass experiment was that of the host estate’s eponymous Hush Heath Balfour Brut Rosé, a delicate, fruit driven blush that has been making waves in the English wine world. The 16 glasses we were testing were as follows:


Glasses 1-5

Glasses 6-10

Glasses 11-16



1. Traditional Coupe; 2. Sauvignon; 3. Riesling; 4. Riedel Restaurant Flute; 5. Prosecco; 6. Pinot noir; 7. Sommelier Champagne; 8. Vinum Champagne; 9. 1969 World Wine Fair; 10. Antique Champagne; 11. Tempranillo Crianza; 12. Vinum Champagne; 13. Overture Champagne ; 14. Restaurant Port; 15. Stemless Champagne; 16. ISO tasting glass (not by Riedel)


Starting with a flight of 16 glasses in the first round, each participant had to eliminate nine glasses, followed by a vote on which nine would be eliminated. The majority ruled, leaving seven. After the second round with seven glasses and another fresh bottle of Balfour Brut Rosé each (much to the chagrin of Richard!), four more glasses were eliminated, leaving three. From the three a favourite was chosen. Well, two. Glass number 5 won, but with less overall negative votes, glass 8 tied.


With a break for a delightful buffet lunch of finger food, the opportunity to drink some of the still wines that Owen Elias is making at Hush Heath (a tender Chardonnay and a fresh and fruity Rosé), and a chance to sit in the almost surprising sun (after the summer we’ve had!).


The tasting resumed after lunch, this time, however, the glasses were filled with Chapel Down’s 2006 Pinot Noir / Chardonnay. And the results were markedly different… Glasses #7, #9, and #11 were the finalists for the Chapel Down, with glass #7 coming out on top. The mineral and yeasty aromas of were able to shine in these glasses.


It’s very difficult, when every wine in the world is different to the next. Riedel would, I’m sure, love to create a glass for each and every producer in the world, but it’s just not realistic. When comparing the results of the Hush Heath and Chapel Down tastings, glass #7 actually had very few negative votes overall and could be deemed the glass for enjoying English sparkling wine. It will be interesting to see which glasses conquer at Camel Valley’s tasting in Cornwall…


It is very difficult to not look at the aesthetics of a glass when tasting wine, despite Georg Riedel telling us to only pay attention to the functionality of the glasses. The general feeling from the tasting was that the best glass for English sparklers were those that allowed the aromas and flavours to bounce around the glass a bit, rather than keeping them all in tight. Wider bodied glasses like #s 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 11 let the wines that have (in general) more aromatic and fruit components share their aromas with the taster.


A thoroughly enjoyable day, with excellent company, food and wine. The weather was once again on our side too!


Thanks to Richard Balfour-Lynn for hosting us, Meeghan Murdoch for organising, and of course to Georg Riedel for being a genius glass maker…!



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Annual get together for vineyards from the South East at Nutbourne Vineyard

Sep. 9th 2011


I have to admit after a long day, I was a bit exhausted and wasn’t sure I had the energy to attend the annual SEVA summer BBQ last night. As soon as I arrived, though I was glad I went…


The windmill and decked dining area


Following a badly configured GPS through the windy lanes in the depths of West Sussex, I eventually found myself in the right place: the drive up to Nutbourne Vineyard. With an impressive old windmill marking the end of the drive by the winery, nestled among beautiful green and productive vines, the Nutbourne site is delightfully in the middle of nowhere. At least it seems that way, with no traffic or buildings to obscure what can only be said to be idyllic.


Received by Peter and Bridget Gladwin, hands-on owners at Nutbourne, along with Stuart Williams, full time winemaker, and winemaking consultant Owen Elias, guests were welcomed with a  glass of the Nutty, a delicious fizz of a delicate blend of Pinot Noir, Reichensteiner and Chardonnay. Bypassing the aromatic barbecue, home to a number of joints of meat being prepared for dinner, SEVA members were gathered around an architected fire pit in the middle of the vineyard, where we were able to catch up on the progress of grapes on vineyards around the South East, in the run up to harvest.


Alpacas guarding the vines...


Bridget then took us on a tour of the vineyard, publicly announcing that she’d not be talking about the vines as she might on a normal tour, assuming that most people there knew what they were looking at. We wandered down through highly trained vines down to a picturesque spring fed lake into which the dogs jumped in immediately. The lake was flanked by a small herd of (fairly tame) alpaca which keep the grass tightly cropped, and up to a watermill dating back as far as a mention in the domesday book.



Cooling off in the lake..!



Jacob and Emma from Custom Crush taking in the view




Upon our return to the windmill and covered and decked seating area, we were then shown around the windmill, which acts as the shop at Nutbourne, with a fairly rickety, but I’m assured safe, balcony from which the view over the vines towards the South Downs is breathtaking. From there we were given tour of the purpose built winery, decked out with a brand new 4 tonne press and other state of the art equipment for producing their range of excellent still and sparkling wines.


Dinner was served as a buffet, with barbecued pork and a melange of mushroom flan, served up with fresh salads and breads with hand made sauces and dips. The range of Nutbourne wines were on offer to us to try. Unfortunately, as I was driving home, I was only able to taste a few of these, but the Nutbourne Bacchus was my favourite  - crisp and fresh, with elderflower and freshly cut grass on the nose.


Dessert stole the (food) show for me: a thoroughly decadent trillionnaire’s shortbread caramel slice – crispy biscuit base with a layer of the most perfect consistency of caramel goo, topped with a thick dark chocolate. Peter informed me that the secret ingredient was salt in the caramel – it makes you want to keep eating it! Dinner was followed  by a wine quiz, won by Owen Elias, Stuart Williams and their team of hot shot wine aficionados!


So, many thanks to our hosts, Peter and Bridget at Nutbourne, for a tremendous evening of vines, wines and food. big thank yous to Emma Rice, Chris Foss and Lila Hunnisett from SEVA for organising the event. They even managed to keep the rain and clouds away, providing us with a  lovely sunset and a bright moon to drive home by…


PS. Thanks to Belinda Kemp for some of the pics too…

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Sparkling English Wine hits Food & Drink Festivals around the South!

Sep. 1st 2011


Sparkling English Wine will be showcasing some of England’s finest sparkling wines at some of the best known food and drink festivals during the month of September. We’ve got ourselves a Sparkling English Wine-branded marquee, a mobile bar and lots of different wines to showcase at a number of events over the next month or so…


With a food and wine festival every weekend, starting close to home in Brighton and Hove’s Big Sussex Market, we are looking forward to getting out there, meeting the public and sharing some of the best fizz in the country.


At the Oxford Castle Food and Wine Festival we will be next to the Loch Fyne tent, with whom we’ll be serving a glass of one of our great fizzes alongside the perfect accompaniment – a couple of oysters…! We’ll also be doing a tutored tasting session with a selection of English sparkling wines with Susy Atkins at 3.45pm on the Saturday.


Come and join us at any of the following events for an English sparkling wine by the glass, take a bottle away with you, or place an order and get free delivery…


Saturday 10th & Sunday 11th September:

Brighton and Hove Food & Drink Festival: The Big Sussex Market, New Road, North Laines, Brighton, 10am-6pm




Saturday 17th & Sunday 18th September:

Oxford Castle Food and Wine Festival, Oxford Castle, Oxford, 10am-5pm



Sunday 25th September:

Slight change of plan to our original schedule… We are going to be showcasing some of the best producers of fizz in Sussex at the Hotel du Vin. £20 per ticket includes entrance, tasting notes, a commemorative glass & three tasters. Wine is available to buy by the glass or case.




Saturday 1st October:

Barnes Food Fair, Barnes Green, South West London - 9.30am to 5.30pm



Keep up to date with our latest events on our Events page on Sparkling English Wine, or sign up to our newsletter here. We look forward to seeing you there!

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