“Fine English sparkling wine.”
Four words seldom seen, written or uttered in that precise order.
But things are changing. England—specifically, southern England—now is producing sparkling wines that can command as much as $70 per bottle. It’s enough to make a French vigneron shake his head in disbelief and dismay.
For centuries—basically, as long as there is some form of recorded wine history—winegrape growing in England has been virtually impossible because of the cold, clammy climate. But with changes in weather patterns, not only is the annual harvest in Bordeaux occurring, on average, two weeks earlier, but cool-climate grapes are being grown successfully in southern England.
Although the export market remains quite small, homegrown bubbly is gaining a foothold in England. Last year, for the Diamond Jubilee that marked the 60th year on the throne for Queen Elizabeth II, French Champagne was passed over in favor of English sparkling wine.