However, in recent years, England has been producing sparkling wine to rival that of Champagne. The country’s south, with a climate and limestone-sand soils similar to Champagne’s, has put England firmly on the world’s wine map. This is perhaps especially thanks to Nyetimber, of West Sussex, which beat Champagne in a Paris blind tasting.
Nyetimber’s brilliant Rosé is a great introduction to sparkling wines of the region. The wine is made in the traditional Champagne method, and is a blend of the three principle Champagne grapes – 72 percent Pinot Noir, 27 percent Chardonnay, and 1 percent Pinot Meunier in the bottle I tasted.
Described as a “multi-vintage” wine, Nyetimber’s term for non-vintage, most of the grapes in this one came from 2010, with a small percentage from 2009. (In a nice interactive touch, you can find out blend and vintage specifics by entering a code on Nyetimber’s website found on the bottle’s back label.)
With a color between red rose and copper, the wine explodes with summer fruit flavors, especially ripe strawberry and raspberry, with a slight herbal bitterness on the finish. A bready note brings roundness and balance, zesty acidity provides a refreshing lift, and fine bubbles create a beautiful elegance.
Nyetimber, which was founded in 1988, is one of the pioneers of English sparkling wine, which has benefitted in recent years from warmer temperatures that have come with climate change. At about $60, the price is similar to that of many Champagnes, and the quality is every bit as good.
The winery, whose goal is nothing less than “to make the world’s finest sparkling wine,” seems well on its way. Winston Churchill would be proud.