Producers

Introducing Hoffmann & Rathbone

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We are delighted to expand our portfolio with the addition of Hoffmann & Rathbone as our second English producer. Hoffmann & Rathbone is a boutique winery handcrafting premium sparkling wines from the best selected Sussex grown grapes. All of their wines spend at least three years maturing in bottle on lees, and nothing is released until the fine flavors and delicate layers are ready. 

Three beautiful sparkling wines and 1 still dry white wine will be available in January. 

Fall Harvest in Full Swing!

I was fortunate enough to spend a day at Exton Park last week and see the harvest in full swing. I even loaded a few crates into the press! Volumes are down this year due to the spring frosts, which also led to an unusual picking pattern, needing multiple passes through the vineyard. The quality of the fruit that is there though is very good.

I was again impressed at how focused Corinne and Fred are on making wines that reflect their unique terroir, with minimal intervention and manipulation. While there, we loaded Pinot Noir to the press that was picked that morning. The pressing is very gentle, taking 2-3 hours for several tons of fruit, and the juice is kept away from oxygen to retain the freshness of the fruit.

Decanter: English sparkling takes on New York wine scene

We love bubbles in New York, and we’re adventurous about where they come from... They have a distinctive English character – very zingy acidity, lightness and a Champagne like chalkiness, but with more fruit and a bit less complexity.

Happy to be mentioned as a pioneering British importer in Elin McCoy's article in April's Decanter! 

Read more. 

English wine tasting delivers MPs a message in a bottle – more support for England’s world class wines

Photo: Wine and Spirits Trade Association

Photo: Wine and Spirits Trade Association

The Wine and Spirits Trade Association (WSTA) held a masterclass tasting with Ministers of Parliament (MPs) on February 6th to showcase the south of England’s finest blends. 

Wines included Bolney Wine EstateGusbourneExton Park, Chapel DownFurleigh EstateHambledonHattingley ValleyNyetimberRidgeviewHush HeathPlumpton Estate and Rathfinny.

WTSA educated politicians on the successes of English wine and also shared the importance of the wider UK wine industry to Britain’s economy and jobs. The last decade has seen explosive growth, with 133 wineries and 180 vineyards open to the public and 502 vineyards overall. By 2020 the trade industry expects 50% further growth.

Read more. 

English sparkling wines start to rival French efforts

English vineyards are specialising increasingly in sparkling wines. They have attracted considerable attention, winning gold medals against reputable French competition over the past decade or so, with many bottles going for prices on a par with the top French champagnes. Agricultural land values — at £10,000-£20,000 per hectare, are about 1 per cent or less than those in France — have sprouted upwards as a result.

French champagne house Taittinger has taken note and bought land in southern England to produce its own version of the local fizz, with plans to sell its wine in the UK. French expertise also guides the progress at Hampshire-based sparkling wine makers Hambledon and Exton Park.

Despite the arrival of such a leading producer, the English sparkling wine industry still largely comprises family businesses. Some of the newest ones are supported by one or two wealthy investors, drawn by the potential for English sparkling wines.

Read more in the Financial Times

Great Harvest for English Wine Producers

Photo: Ian Primrose

Photo: Ian Primrose

I had the chance to visit many vineyards in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire during a whirlwind trip to the UK in September. There's a real excitement about this year's harvest  - with many winemakers talking about making vintages - and the prospects for English sparkling wine overall. 

After tasting several bottles you can see why English sparkling has racked up so many awards recently and generated international interest. The wine has its own personality, which Hugh Johnson has called "orchard freshness". It's true to the terroir while maintaining the qualities that you would expect from any great Champagne.  

There's still room for growth and refinement but English sparkling is definitely on an upward trajectory.

Read more. 

Photos: Ian Primrose