Wine expert Thor Gudmundsson explains why still wines are a challenge to produce in the UK
British producers have been getting some fantastic results with sparkling wines made in the style of Champagne, even out-performing established brands at international competitions. However, the situation has been less rosy on the still wine front. Why is that?
In a nutshell, the climate of the British Isles – just like in Champagne – is marginal for growing and maturing grapes. But unlike still wines, Champagne-style wines are heavily assisted by the addition of sugar: both the ‘liqueur de tirage’, which is added to get the secondary fermentation in bottle, and the ‘liqueur d’expedition’, which is added at the final stage, are a mixture of sugar and wine. Simply put, they help to turn harshly acidic, borderline drinkable wines into a premium product!
However, some UK producers are rising to the challenge. In almost tropical Monmouthshire, David Morris makes wine at Ancre Hill, his family estate. The Chardonnay and Pinot Noir produced there are rare examples of successful British still wines; the fact that they are farmed organically and bio-dynamically makes it no less of an achievement and undoubtedly contributes to the quality of the fruit.
We’re also getting tiny quantities of Ancre Hill’s sparkling Blanc de Blanc Chardonnay, so drop in and sample some excellent British still and sparkling wine.
The Brackenbury Wine Rooms
111-115 Hammersmith Grove, W6 0NQ