This week we are very excited to be supporting English Wine Week. From Saturday 18th
to Sunday 26th
June. English wines are continuing to grow in popularity as the quality improves and there is a desire with many of us to support the local economy. English sparkling wines in particular are now World class and they form a core part of our range. We often get questions about English wines so here’s a list of the most commonly asked, with the answers…
Are English wines any good?
Definitely! There are some excellent quality English wines and as the vines grow older and the winemakers gain more experience the quality of the wines is continually improving. The climate here in England isn’t warm enough to grow many familiar wine grape varieties, however some the varieties which thrive in cooler conditions are well suited to the English climate. Varieties such as Bacchus, Dornfelder and the Champagne varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier are all growing well in England.
Why are English wines so expensive?
The quality of the best English wines rivals the quality of other wines at the same price point, so perhaps they are not that expensive in relative terms. There are however several other factors to consider. The climate in England is unpredictable and a good crop is never guaranteed. There are no economies of scale in England yet as wine is not being produced in sufficient quantity to gain these benefits. Land, labour, materials and winery facilities are all expensive when compared to some other wine producing regions. Unlike many other countries, our Government doesn’t subsidise English wine growers. Most vineyards only survive through making extra income from wine tours and tastings.
How do English wines compare to those from other countries?
The cool climate and long daylight hours in summer mean that the grapes have a long time to ripen. This allows a broad range of flavours to develop. Sugar levels don’t usually get as high as they do in warmer climates so the wines tend to be lighter in body and lower in alcohol. Perfect conditions for the production of quality sparkling wines. Still white wines are usually aromatic, crisp and light bodied – just right for summer drinking. Reds are also light in body and refreshing although quality for reds is variable so shop around to find a style you like or talk to a quality independent wine retailer like Sheldon’s.
Why should I buy English wine when it costs more than a similar wine from another country?
As mentioned above, the best quality English wines rival wines from other regions at the same price point, so it is not always true that English wines cost more than similar wines from other countries. Also it is a tough job producing wine in this country. When we support the English wine makers by choosing their wines and visiting their vineyards we allow them to continue to produce wine and invest in the vineyards and wineries. As the vines in the vineyards mature the quality of the wine will continue to improve and with higher volume production the prices should become more competitive. With climate change causing havoc across many of the traditional wine growing regions, now could be the time to invest in the long term future of English wines.
Why not use English Wine Week as an excuse to try something different this weekend? We will have a bottle of one of our favourites open in the shop on Saturday for those of you who pop in and want to try before you buy.