Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Four or five festive sparklers... and where to enjoy them

One English sparkler

Sugrue Pierre – The Trouble with Dreams
Sugrue Pierre South Downs: The Trouble with Dreams
by Dermot Sugrue   

Unlike British politics which has been hitting the headlines for all the wrong reasons for best part of three years now, English or more precisely English and Welsh wines, have been garnering headlines for excellent reasons. We are now making some very good sparkling wines, which account for around two thirds of our production. The area under vine here is predicted to reach 3000 hectares by 2020. This is still small – similar in size to Sancerre (2987 in 2017) but given that vine growing only restarted here in 1952 this is a fair change. Plantings have tripled since 2004. Of course all this pales into insignificance if you consider how much the Chinese have planted over the past decade or even, on a lesser scale, the way wine production in New Zealand has increased and changed since the 1970s.

Wine has been made here since the Roman times but following the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1536 vineyards in the UK gradually declined until they disappeared altogether just before the First World War. It wasn't until 1952 that vines were replanted for commercial production and there was a gradual revival during the rest of the 20th Century. 

Irish wine-maker Dermot Sugrue has been an important influence on English wine, in particular sparkling. His precise and thrilling Sugrue Pierre South Downs: The Trouble with Dreams (Chardonnay 60% Pinot Noir 40%) can be best enjoyed at The Harrow in Little Bedwyn – a brilliant Michelin starred restaurant.

English wine

Just out a quick monograph - 70 pages – to English wine
Copies from International Wine & Food Society


Four Loire favourites: 


Pure Chenin Blanc from Château de L'Aulée, Azay-le-Rideau. No added sugar and 24 months minimum on the lees. Brilliant value, which makes it our house fizz.


Also pure Chenin Blanc with no sugar added at any stage hence the name – Triple Zéro, which has been a great success for Jacky Blot. Triple Zéro can be best enjoyed at Jacky's Le Bistrot des Belles Caves (Tours).


A Saumur fizz – Chenin Chardonnay – from Bouvet Ladubay – zero dosage. Zéro can be best enjoyed at La Route du Sel (Le Thoureil).


Lamé's delicate Crémant de Loire is a blend of 70% Cabernet Franc and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon with 24 months sur latte. This Crémant can be best enjoyed at Vincent le Cuisiner de Campagne  (Ingrandes-de-Touraine).


A Giant e-bike – recommended to assist in fighting off the extra calories and weight over the Christmas period. 

(This post was first published on Les 5 du Vin. This is one of a week-long series on festive sparkling wines.) 

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