While traditional English Sparkling has come a long way in recent years, one can’t help but notice at the Wine GB tasting the sea of Chardonnay/Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier blends on show, and one can often overhear tasters ruminating inevitably the parallels and comparisons with Champagne, in quality, winemaking and crucially, price.
England does make fantastic Champagne blends with their own twist, but there is a growing feeling, as the industry comes of age, for the UK to establish own identity and step away from under the shadow of its Gallic neighbour, especially on the international stage. Pound for pound, dollar for dollar, it’s tough to compete directly.
Described as a variety of great potential for the UK by well respected Champagne winemaker and one of the pioneers of the UK sparkling wine industry, Jean-Manuel Jacquinot, Seyval Blanc has been in the UK for some time before the Champagne varieties exploded on the scene. It’s clean, fresh taste and crisp acidity embraces the UK cool climate and soils, and could be the key for the UK in stamping its identity for sparkling.
Breaky Bottom have been making Seyval Blanc sparkling in the UK since 1995, way before Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier were cool. Though a 100% Seyval Blanc is also made, this Cuvée Oliver Minkley is a 30% blend in a Chardonnay-dominant classic blend, made by another pioneer and tour de force of the UK wine industry, Peter Hall.
A golden hue from 6 years on lees and bottle aging, this sparkler has red apple, pear, white peach with pronounced brioche, toast and yeast notes on the nose. On the palate, acidity is embraced in the Seyval Blanc, with notes of crisp apple, lemon and a creamy mousse, with grapefruit, yeast and lemon peel on the finish. A lovely Traditional Method, and uniquely British.
Could this or other varieties be the key in the UK establishing its own identity? I’d love to know your thoughts below.