English sparkling wine from Chapel Down in Kent and Hattingley Valley in Hampshire took the baton from their Champagne colleagues, and for the first time hosted the reception, giving media guests a truly British welcome.
The London Press Club Ball chose a selection of English wines, from the WSTA membership, to serve at their annual event in the stunning V&A Museum on Thursday (Oct 13).
Organisers were impressed by recent media coverage of English wines’ success story after it was picked as the tipple for No10 receptions and served at star studded Hollywood bashes.
Following the bubbly, dinner guests were treated Bolney’s Bacchus white wine from their estate in Sussex and Kingsland Wines based in Manchester provided the red, a Shorn, Pinot Noir from New Zealand.
The sparkling wine served included Chapel Down Rosé Brut, Chapel Down Three Graces 2010 and Hattingley Valley’s Classic Cuvee.
The UK grape harvest is now in full swing and growers are predicting 2016 will be a high quality vintage.
Thanks to a warm August and unseasonably dry and sunny September and October, the grapes are showing high sugars and good acid balance. All this, UK wine makers say, indicates an exceptional quality crop.
Gareth Maxwell, Sales and Exports Manager at Hattingley Valley said:
“We are delighted to serve our Classic Cuvee at the London Press Club Ball, it’s been a great year for English Sparkling wine, thanks in part to the press coverage. We can make fantastic wines in the UK but it’s a tough proposition, indeed we will produce 40% less this year compared to last year due to frost. The quality of the fruit however is fantastic so we will have some great wines to release.”
Miles Beale Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association said:
“The UK is a – perhaps the – world leading wine trading nation. We are the second largest importer of wine in the world by both volume and value and bottle 600m wines a year – offering some 270,000 British jobs.
And, most recently, the UK has become a producer of internationally recognised wines. English wine has never been in a better place and we are extremely pleased that 2016 looks like being a corking year for quality. Our wine producers are now gaining global recognition for making some of the best wines in the world. This is reflected in the impressive collection of awards won in the last few years.
“The WSTA are delighted to team up with the London Press Club and showcase excellent wines made by our members. We hope the journalists continue to spread the word.”
Press Club Co-Chairman and Evening Standard Royal Editor, Robert Jobson said:
“We are thrilled and proud to be associated with such excellent English wines. Working with the WSTA has meant that this year’s charity event was celebrated in style.”
In 2015 there were 502 commercial vineyards registered in England and Wales and 133 registered wine producers.
In the last 10 years the area of planted vines has more than doubled and is set to grow by a further 50% by 2020.
Production is set to double to 10 million bottles per year by 2020.
UK winemakers now offer a range of white, rose and some red wine and have moved towards producing sparkling wine in the traditional method used in Champagne.
The success of these wines has led Champagne houses, such as Taittinger and Pomeroy, to look to invest in vineyards in the south of England as the chalky soils and climate are similar to those found in the Champagne region.