Wine in England and in particular sparkling wine is currently experiencing a huge boom. Several factors have caused this; Climate change has moved the northerly limit for grape growing and wine production from the south of the English Channel to somewhere between Oxford and Birmingham. The chalk geology of the North and South Downs is the same as one finds in Champagne and is particularly good for growing Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In addition, increased investment and expertise has raised the standard of all viticulture and winemaking in England.
There has been an noticeable focus on sparkling wine production. Creating sparkling wine, using the traditional method, requires slightly less ripe (lower sugars) and slightly more acidic grapes than still wine production. Therefore, the climate in Southern England is consistently warm enough to produce world class, high quality and consistent English Sparkling Wine. It is no longer a shock for English Sparkling Wine to beat the top Champagnes in blind taste testings.
In 2016 Britain produced around five million bottles of wine, of which two thirds were sparkling. However English wine production is still very small and although this sounds like a lot, here in Britain we consume a handsome two billion bottles of wine a year, plus one hundred million bottles of Champagne and other sparkling wines as well as sixty million bottles of Prosecco. The opportunity for Greyfriars along with all UK vineyards is to persuade the British public to consume a little less wine from our overseas winemaking friends and more of our English wine, challenge accepted.
These four elements make Greyfriars special and the reasoning behind why Marco chose them for Seasons Kitchen.
Chalk – Below the shallow soils of the Surrey North Downs is solid chalk, producing vibrant, rich & elegant sparkling wines.
Grapes – Pinot Noir, Chardonnay & Pinot Meunier grapes (the same used in the Champagne region), along with Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Gris are all lovingly hand picked in October.
Oak Ageing – A proportion of Greyfriars English Sparkling wine is fermented in French oak to add complexity and texture.
In The Glass – The refined English Sparkling Wines all have beautiful small and persistent bubbles, high clarity and delicious taste.