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Winner Details

English Sparkling Wine

2014: Gold: 3; Silver: 2; Bronze: 7; Commended: 6
2013: Gold: 3; Silver: 1; Bronze: 1
Must-list status: 50%
Overall performance SWA 2014: B+

Remember film director Colin Welland’s infamous prediction after Chariots of Fire’s Oscar success in 1982 that ‘The British are coming…’? A prediction, you might recall, that was followed by 20 years of tumbleweed in the British film industry.

Well, to hell with it, we’re going to make an even ballsier prediction here. English sparkling wine isn’t just coming, it’s arrived, unpacked its bags and is happily pouring itself a glass of fizz in your sitting room while it searches for Strictly on your Skybox.

There was a big increase in entries of Britfizz this year – and, hearteningly, it was followed by a corresponding upturn in medals as well.

Some of the heavy hitters from previous SWAs did well again here: Ridgview is a serial Gold-Lister, while Jenkyn Place and Gusbourne have both shone in the past as well, but plenty of new names picked up medals, suggesting that this is a category that has depth as well as star quality.

In fact, there were only two question marks from the tasting teams at this year’s competition.

First of all, whether some of the wineries might want to experiment with putting a bit more reserve wine in to add richness to their finesse.

‘They could do it. The Spanish and Italians do,’ mused Riccardo Giacomelli from Bocca di Lupo, though there were probably rather more tasters happy with the slightly lighter style of English pop.

Second, producers need to be careful with pricing. These are wines that will sell, but only provided they come in slightly under Champagne on a list.

Still, our Gold List featured three wines in very different styles: the ethereal, affordable Court Garden Blanc de Blancs Vintage; the effortlessly elegant Ridgeview Grosvenor Blanc de Blancs; and the full-bodied, elegant Charles Palmer Brut. ‘Great for quail or mushroom risotto,’ said Hotel du Vin Harrogate’s Mark Perlaki.

FOOTNOTE: for sparkling English rosés, please refer to the Other Sparkling Rosé section.

From the Tasting Teams

‘We have several English sparklers on our list. People like the idea that it could be grown locally. That’s a trend that has grown over the last few years.’ Amelia Thornhill, The Plough Inn

‘There are a lot of wines trying to replicate Champagne, but the best English sparkling wine has its own style.’ Richard Howard, Blakeney Hotel

‘The best showed a typical English freshness, clean and dry with crisp acidity, but also with some complexity. You want a wine that looks like English sparkling wine, not one that is trying to be Champagne.’
Julian Bicknell, Hawksmoor Air Street

‘English sparkling wine is a must list, it’s going to sell and should sell well – people are happy to pay around £60 on the list.’ Riccardo Giacomelli, Bocca di Lupo