Wine making in the UK has increased in popularity since the climate and conditions have great potential for grape growing. Sussex Sparkling wine in particular is becoming internationally famous. A similar soil and climate to Champagne is helping local vineyards produce award-winning sparkling wine right here in the Sussex Downs. Champagne can only be made in the Champagne region in France, but these Sussex Sparkling wines are made in the same traditional method and are gaining international recognition and acclaim.
Here’s a round up of some of our best Sussex Sparkling wines around, plus a few tips for tasting any sparkling wine…
When looking for a good quality sparkling wine it’s all about the ‘mousse’ (bubbles), the smaller the bubble usually means the better the quality. Another factor is if a wine has a vintage (year) it is generally considered to have been good harvest, although non-vintage wines are made to a consistent quality and can be equally as good. Overall, taste in wine is incredibly personal so the best advice is to taste as much as possible to find out what you like!
Breaky Bottom Winery
Nestled in a fold of the South Downs, 5 miles east of Lewes lies Breaky Bottom Winery, where wine maker Peter Hall first planted his vines in 1974. Since then he has produced award winning Sparkling Brut made in the same traditional ‘method champenoise’ as Champagne, meaning the wine is fermented in the bottle. Peter’s Seyval Blanc grapes have similar qualities to those grown in the Loire Valley which give his wine a good balance of acidity, and a light biscuity flavour.
The Cuvee tastes great on its own, or try it with seafood or sushi.
Creme de Cassis is also produced at Breaky Bottom using home-grown blackcurrants. It is a delicious liqueur which can be used to make Kir Royale’s, poured over ice cream and in puddings, or even drunk on its own.
You can buy Breaky Bottom Sparkling Brut in Waitrose (from stores within a 30 mile radius of the vineyard) for £19.99, Cassis is priced at £8.00. However the best way to buy this wine is to pay a visit and stock up. In Oz Clarke’s words, ‘There’s no more beautiful vineyard than Breaky Bottom’ www.breakybottom.co.uk
Sussex Sparkling Wine – Breaky Bottom Vines
Ridgeview Wine Estate
The Ridgeview Estate located in Ditchling Common has won an impressive array of awards for their sparkling wine varieties. They cite the combination of local chalk and clay bearing an uncanny resemblance to the Champagne region. Wines are made with the classic Champagne grape varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meurnier. There are 8 RidgeView varieties to sample including their Merret Bloomsbury Brut, which features flavours of brioche and is made with 64% Chardonnay grapes. It can be drunk now or aged for a few years to allow the flavour to develop fully.
Ridgeview wines are available at local stockists and to order online, for more details go to www.ridgeview.co.uk . Prices start at £19.95 for a bottle of Bloomsbury.
Nyetimber is the largest vineyard in the UK growing grapes on land covering an impressive 438 acres over in West Chiltington, West Sussex. Their Sussex Sparkling wine has consistently won major international wine competitions, chalking up no less than 65 awards and trophies since the vines were originally planted in 1988.
Their aim was to make a sparkling wine to rival Champagne and they believe they have realised their goal; their 2003 Classic Cuvee was recently crowned ‘Champion of Worldwide Sparkling Wines’ competing against the likes of Bollinger, Louise Roederer and Pommery. Nyetimber’s Cuvee sells for a quaffable price tag of £25.
Boasting nuances of creamy vanilla, toast and roasted nuts their Blanc de Blanc ‘white of whites’ sparkling wine is made purely from Chardonnay grapes and goes especially well with fish such as salmon, tuna and mackerel and chicken dishes.
Both wines are available from all good stockists and Waitrose for £25 per bottle. For a full list visit www.nyetimber.com
Bolney Wine Estate
Bolney Vineyard, ‘the vineyard by the sea’ have produced white, rosé and red sparkling wines, all in the traditional method near the Village of Bolney since as far back as 1972.
Their 2008 vintage Antares sparkling red wine tastes of summer fruits with aromas of cherries and blueberries, it goes down well at barbecues, and with cheese and strawberries.
Featuring creamy, bready aromas and hints of elderflower fruitness, ‘Bolney Bubbly White Sparkling Wine’ starts at just £17.50 a bottle with cases of 6 for under £100. This is a real bargain compared to the equivalent price for the same quality of Champagne. It can be served as an aperitif prior to a meal to cleanse the palate or goes with just about anything!
Bolney also offer Blanc de Blanc and rosé varieties which also come highly commended. Look out for Bolney’s wines in selected Co-op stores, Middle Farm near Firle and Hotel du Vin in Brighton. Or see www.bookersvineyard.co.uk for a full list of stockists and to buy online.
We’d love to hear your views on any Sussex Sparkling Wines you’ve tried?