It used to be the easiest way in the wine world to get a laugh – start extolling the virtues of English wine. Oh, how they would chortle! And they had a point. Until the 1990s hardly any English wine was more than a curiosity to be drunk if you had no other choice. The old-fashioned view of English wine is that of a cottage industry made up of amateurs struggling with the mud and the drizzle. The modern view is of a country amazingly blessed with vast tracts of soil suitable for viticulture, much of it almost indistinguishable from the chalky slopes of Champagne and Chablis, and of a country taking full advantage of the vagaries of climate change to ripen Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to levels perfect for sparkling wine, and increasingly excellent still wines. And it wouldn’t be far off the mark to say that England is now the newest of the New World, New Wave wine countries.
The 1990s brought several pioneering sparkling wine producers to the fore – led by Nyetimber and Breaky Bottom and suddenly England has found its wine vocation. Oz has long been a champion of English wines and this book helps you find the best wines, from fizz, whites, some impressive reds and even dessert and orange wines.
One of the great pleasures of wine is to drink it where it is grown and made. Both wine handbook and armchair companion, English Wine is an essential book for all lovers of wine. The opportunity to meet growers, winemakers and winery owners is what draws people to visit wineries and ‘have an experience in the vineyard’.
The book is split into sections:
Exciting Times – How it used to be; The Nyetimber effect; Climate: is it almost perfect now?; Location is key; Planting like made; A question of style: sparkling or still; and Grape varieties: a race to the top.
British Bubbles – What is needed to make good fizz; Champagne, the original fizz; Bubbles and how they’re created.
A Tour Of the Regions – covers personal experiences and reflections from Oz’s many years of visiting talented and passionate producers up and down the country. From Yorkshire to the far west of Cornwall and across to Wales, a small but dynamic part of the UK’s wine movement, Oz recommends wines he has enjoyed and found interesting and encourages you to try for yourself.