It was fascinating to conduct two master classes at the Restaurant Show this year, using wines that had all performed well at the 2017 International Wine Challenge.
Having been a judge, I had no concerns about the wines which all gained at the least a Gold medal while some had won trophies, but it was interesting to taste the wines knowing what they actually were.
The wines went down well with the master class attendees, although, as ever there was the odd diehard who argued that English sparkling wine doesn’t match up to Champagne. But that was precisely the point that struck me: they do give Champagne a run for its money. I first listed English wines when consulting for The Dorchester Hotel nearly 20 years ago. There were good wines then, but it was definitely more hit and miss. Today English wines, in particular sparkling, offer better consistency and higher quality. Interestingly, while I couldn’t say that distinct regional character is clear, we did manage to show wines from four counties.
Bloomsbury NV, Ridgeview. Sussex - Gold Medal, IWC
Classic Cuvée Brut NV, Cottonworth. Hampshire - English Sparkling Non-Vintage White Trophy, IWC
Westwell Special Cuvée 2014, Westwell Wines. Kent - English Sparkling Vintage Classic Blend Trophy
Blanc de Noirs Brut 2014, Furleigh Estate. Dorset - Gold Medal, IWC
Blanc de Blancs 'La Perfide' 2009, Coates & Seely. Hampshire - English Sparkling Vintage Blanc de Blancs Trophy
Hambledon Classic Cuvee Rose NV, Hambledon Vineyard. Hampshire - English Sparkling Rose Trophy