THE GRAPE BASE IS VIRTUALLY the same as Champagne — Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. They are made by the same two-fermentation Champagne method. And, like Champagne, the finished result is a sparkling wine. One difference, though: This bubbly is made not in France’s Champagne region but in the southern part of England. So much is English sparkling wine a growing industry, the majority of wine currently produced in England’s 450 wineries is now sparkling.
To test the quality of English sparklers, I held a small tasting of six. The result was fascinating.
Chapel Down Classic Brut NV — an elegant, pale-shaded sparkler with tiny, tight bubbles — proved a well-made, well-structured, clean wine. It left a pleasant, refreshing finish.
The flavors of Ridgeview Bloomsbury NV were a bit deeper with small, lively bubbles and an elegant aroma: a classic, delicate sparkler.
Nyetimber Classic Cuvée Brut, NV, expressed still deeper flavors and a fuller body, more complexity and more weight. A sturdy, well-balanced wine with well-balanced acidity, it’s a classic sparkler very similar to Champagne.
As befits a wine made totally of white grapes, Gusbourne Blanc de Blancs 2014 was pale, almost colorless, with bright, especially active bubbles: a vivacious wine with a positive mouth feel.
Delicious and powerful, Gusbourne Brut Reserve 2014 inspired one of the tasters to ask if I snuck a Champagne into the tasting to fool them. No, it was simply a bigger, more forward English sparkler.
Chapel Down Three Graces 2014 displayed the largest bubbles of the group, and they were aggressive as well. This complex wine boasts a body of medium weight and exceptional structure although with a rather short finish.
Overall, England’s sparkling wines, all new to the tasters, both surprised and pleased them. As for prices, they range about $40–65.
Is France’s Champagne region concerned about English competition? Perhaps more in action than in words. In 2015 the 276-year-old, highly respected Champagne house of Taittinger bought vineyard land in England and in 2017 planted its first English vineyards. When they mature, it will make its first English sparkler.
Though air travel slowed as airports temporarily closed and borders shuttered to stifle the spread of coronavirus, the airline industry — led by oneworld alliance member airlines — enacted enhanced protective measures to reduce risk and protect passengers.
I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
San Antonio celebrated 300 years of progress in May 2018. With a clear vision following that anniversary year, the Texan city set its sights firmly on 300 more. While commemorating this milestone, the city underwent a major overhaul to prepare for the next phase in its history.
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