A taste of England – Expert Tasting Panel

01/03/12 5:02 PM

Last Friday (24th) Sparkling English Wine held our most recent blind tasting panel to put wines new to the site through their paces…

The panel in action...


The tasting panel was made up of MWs, winemakers and other industry bods. Panellists included Nancy Gilchrist MW, Champagne and sparkling wine specialist; Owen Elias, top UK winemaker and fault-spotter extraordinaire (@EnglishTerroir); Matthew Hudson, wine business lecturer and all round wine aficionado (@PlumptonMatthew);  Colin Smith, international wine judge and blogger (@GrapeFan); Luke Wolfe, oenology student and budding English sparkling winemaker (@WinoWolfe); and Morfudd Richards, restaurateur and wine buff (@MorfuddRichards).


Held on a regular and ongoing basis, the aim of the panel is to effectively ensure that the wines marketed and promoted by Sparkling English Wine are of a certain quality, in as fair and rigorous a way as possible. This selectivity should not be seen as elitism, but as helping consumers access good quality products without concern. Sparkling English Wine aim to promote and represent wines and producers from the English sparkling market, and is essential that individual products that could let the side down are weeded out, for the sake of the industry and the consumer – we want to be confident in every wine we are selling, whether it be online, or when we meet the public at shows. By putting this panel of expert wine evaluators in place, customers of Sparkling English Wine can be assured that the wines available are not going to be a gamble, as many English wines can be…


With three tasting panels down, we are pleased to have grown our range to what will soon be 50 wines from 25 producers. Growing from 6 producers last year, all of whom were from the South East, it’s great that the standard of wines and our range now reaches further flung climes like Dorset, Devon and even Herefordshire.


The panel were charged with tasting 18 English sparkling wines blind last week in three flights: two of bruts and one of rosés. After each flight the scores were collected and the successful wines revealed to the panel. Each wine is scored out of 20, with 3 points available for its appearance, 7 for its nose, and 10 for the palate. With a pass mark of 12-13 out of 20, each of the wines should reach a good enough standard for it to be deemed marketable and therefore be put on the website. It should be noted that, as much as possible, our panel are evaluating the wines on their own merits, looking also at typicity and marketability, and not judging them against each other.


A selection of the fine successful wines

With 12 wines passing, including names such as English Oak, Furleigh Estate, Terlingham and Meonhill, among others, the panel were impressed by the overall standard of wines. Jenkyn Place’s new releases, the 2008 Sparkling Brut and Rosé made by Dermot Sugrue at Wiston Estate Winery were well placed and will be the first to be added to the site (as we already have their 2007). Other successful producers and their wines will be added to the next site in the next few weeks as the wines come into stock and we can build the pages.


Our next tasting will be taking place in a few months time and we hope that we can extend our range of producers and wines even further, making Sparkling English Wine, the place place to go to find the best possible range of English sparkling wines…


Watch this space!


3 Comments on “A taste of England – Expert Tasting Panel”

  1. Robin Goldsmith Says:

    Good to see continuing success of English sparkling wine. Also with rosé becoming more fashionable and Camel Valley and others producing superb examples of this style, the future for English and Welsh wines looks rosy indeed.!

  2. Vittorio Vezzola Says:

    Never tasted an english wine so far, will definitely try one when I’m in London next time…

  3. Colin Smith Says:

    It was a good tasting Tom and I’m really glad to see the Terlingham and the English Oak up on the site so quickly. The Terlingham was my wine of the day at the panel.

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