Things in the wine world are always changing, even in ubber conservative Britain. Despite Brexit, or maybe because of it (who knows), the pommy wine world is undergoing a quiet revolution. Here are just some of the elements involved in this upheaval.
VINE PLANTINGS: Here in Australia we are accustomed to big rushes of plantings like in the latter half of the 1990s. BUT, we have been totally outdone by the Poms who this year will be planting some three million vines according to their industry authority WineGB. This equates to around 700 hectares of new vines being planted this year.
This is a staggering figure as it represents an increase in plantings with the area under vines in the UK growing by 24% in just one year. That is truly massive. It makes the UK the fastest growing wine region in the world – this, at a time when many countries are reducing their vineyard area. The 2019 plantings will be nearly double those of 2018 and treble what was planted in 2017.
It will be interesting to see in due course what varieties have been planted and even more interesting to assess the quality of the wines from these new vines when they hit the market in a few years’ time.
Despite this massive growth the UK is a small minnow in terms of production capacity, producing a mere 15.5 million bottles (1.3M dozen) last year. Although they are aiming to produce around 40 million bottles a year (3.4M cases) they will really only be able to make their mark internationally in the sparkling wine category – where they already punch well above their weight with a raft of international trophies and awards. As they say, “Watch this space”.
Meanwhile supermarket giant, Tesco, has just added its first English still wine to its “Finest” range. It is the, Tesco Finest Hush Heath Estate (Kent) 2018 English White, which is a blend of Pinot Blanc, Bacchus and Chardonnay.
EMERGING VARIETIES: That huge UK seller of wine, Waitrose, has just added its new, “W” range, to its portfolio. Launched last week this range features wines from lesser known/unknown to the British wine drinker, which Waitrose believe will become much more popular in the future – i.e. emerging varieties.
The initial offer includes ~ a Marselan, a Cabernet/Grenache cross (big in China) from France ~ a Pais (white variety) from Chile ~ a Cannonau de Sardegna from Italy ~ a Mencia from Bierzo in Spain ~ an Elbling from Germany ~ an Arinto from Portugal ~ a Petit Manseng from France ~ a Zweigelt Rosé from Austria ~ and probably the rarest of the lot, a sparkling Pecorino from Italy. All of these exciting/interesting wines retail for under £10 a bottle.
Interestingly, Mencia, Arinto, Petit Manseng and Zweigelt are all already available in Australia from d’Arenberg, Dell’uva, 919 Wines and Hahndorf Hill Wines, respectively. There are also some other wineries making these varieties, but the ones listed are those that I have tasted and liked.
ORGANIC / BIO-DYNAMIC: Due to the rapidly growing demand for organic & bio-dynamic wines, British retailer, Bibendum, has just added the following Italian organic wines to its range: a Fiano, Primitivo and Nero d’Troia from Puglia, as well as a Nero d’Avola from Sicily – all vegan friendly wines. This trend will continue with many retailers seeking organic wines for their ranges as more and more people ask/demand these wines.
A number of the new vineyards currently being planted in Britain, aim to be organic from the outset.
So whilst most of Pommy-land runs around in ever decreasing circles over bloody Brexit, their wine industry is getting on with the job in style.
If you get a chance, try a British wine as their sparkling wines that I have tasted so far have been excellent, including the world-class bubbles from Nyetimber – Outstanding! I haven’t had the opportunity to taste their still table wines as yet but going by their bubbles, they can’t be half bad either.
Cheers and enjoy good to great wines this week!
THIS WEEK’S WINE REVIEW:
This week I am going to write about a wine that I have previously raved about, the Aldi, MONSIGNY CHAMPAGNE N/V.
I first tried this wine when Aldi released it a few years ago and was blown away by it, especially by the amazing price at the time of $19.99 a bottle. Today, with our sinking dollar it costs $21.99 but still it is an awesome bargain.
This Champagne (yes proper Champagne from France!) has a beautiful yeasty bouquet with attractive citrus aromas. It has a great mousse, a gorgeous mouthful of yeasty citrus flavours and an excellent finish that doesn’t have that searing acidity that some Champagnes have. The acidity is still there but it is softer and gentler making it a bloody brilliant Champagne to enjoy. It truly is EXCEPTIONAL!
We should thank Aldi for introducing this cracking bubbles to Australia, because before it came along the cheapest Champagne sold by the evil duopoly was around $38-$40 a bottle. Well guess what? Today they each have one Champagne at $24.99. Thanks Mr Aldi, you are a Champ!!
Alas, I live in the land that “time forgot”, A.K.A. South Australia, where the dinosaurs who run the state do not allow Aldi or Foodland to sell wine, whilst the evil duopoly are allowed to have bottle shops right next door to their supermarkets. So the only time I can enjoy this cracking Champagne is when I visit Sydney, Canberra or Melbourne, which is nowhere near as often as I would like to be able to drink this brilliant bubbles.
Cheers and enjoy quality wines like this Champagne!