The Rise of English Sparkling Wine
Gardner & Beedle is a wine and spirits merchant, founded by friends Tim Gardner and Nick Beedle, and located in the beautiful Wiltshire countryside. With Christmas on the horizon, we spoke to Nick about why English sparkling wine is a delicious and sustainable choice this festive season.
After a centuries-long drop-off, English wine is having something of a renaissance.
While wine has a storied history in Britain – the Romans introduced the vine to our shores as early as 43 BC – the cold climate, as well as the ease of trading with countries like France and Italy, meant that imported wine quickly overshadowed the home-grown stuff.
- Tim Gardner & Nick Beedle
It wasn’t until the end of the last century that English wine began to build towards a revival. Rising global temperatures over the last decade has brought England’s climate closer to that of the Champagne regions of Northern France, while an increase in vineyards has led to growing expertise and greater investment in English winemaking. These factors have combined to make English wine producers a force to be reckoned with, earning global recognition for their elegant sparkling wines.
“There are so many small producers popping up and the quality is improving constantly.”
Today, there are more than 700 individual vineyards in the British Isles, particularly in the South East, where the chalky soil and south-facing slopes lend themselves to growing the grapes used to make sparkling wine. Wine producers across Sussex, Essex and Kent have become household names – think Nyetimber and Chapel Down – but noteworthy vineyards are popping up across other regions too.
- All photography by Marte Marie Forsberg
Selecting an English sparkling wine
If you’re based in the UK, English wine can be a more sustainable choice for the festive season, with a lower carbon footprint than buying imported bottles.
But with a wide range of winemakers to choose from, how do you select a bottle to try?
“Make sure to take advantage of any local vineyards to you”, says Nick Beedle, one half of Wiltshire-based wine and spirit merchant Gardner & Beedle. “There are so many small producers popping up and the quality is improving constantly.”
If you are hoping for something with a similar flavour to Champagne, look for bottle-fermented wines made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. “In my experience, the best English Sparkling wines are the ones that use the same grape varieties that are used in Champagne. These tend to give a true taste of how it should be”, says Nick.
When it comes to specific brands, Gardner & Beedle have a favourite. “We love Gusbourne English Sparkling, which is in Kent”, says Nick. “The quality of the wines is excellent, they grow all their own grapes and the grapes they use are clones from Burgundy. Their branding is also incredibly smart and their attention to detail across the board is obvious. Needless to say it will look and taste great at Christmas and look the part on your dining room table.”
All photography by Marte Marie Forsberg