Often seen as a country that is too cold to produce wine, let alone top quality wines. Generally speaking it is indeed far too cold to make wines. Most whites and reds wouldn’t be able to survive in the cold and damp conditions that plague the majority of English countryside for most of the year. Though it occurred to a group of people, now the countries leading wine producers, that it has a climate that is similar to that of Champagne in France. It was this epiphany in the late 1950s and 1960s that has led to Sparkling wines being made in the forefront of the UK’s wine industry. Admittedly many producers have a long way to go in order to gain credibility – the leading problem is to do with the vines not being old enough or with bad vineyard management. The best producers are Nyetimber, Ridgeview, Hattingley Estate, Camel Valley, Furleigh Estate and Gusbourne vineyards.
Main Grapes or styles
As one might expect that a wine industry that models itself on Champange, there would be a fair bit of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir found here – and you would be right. Chardonnay is the most planted grape variety closely followed by Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. These are the holy trilogy that are practically devoted to sparkling wine making.
The grapes of Seyval Blanc, Reichensteiner (a German grape), Muller-Thurgau and Bacchus are used to produce still white wines. There is a variance of quality but is an increase in aromatic and success stories.
The majority of top vineyards are found along the western countryside in the regions of Sussex, Surrey and Kent.
Climate and its effect on the wines made here
As described above, the climate of the United Kingdom isn’t exactly suited to producing full-bodied whites or reds. It is perfect for wines that need to retain acidity and pure fruit flavours – cue the sparkling wine buzzer. Though sparkling wine is the main production of the UK’s wine industry there are a few whites that are increasingly seeing success. Still they are often high in acidity and the best are crisp and refreshing with a balance of fruit and acidity.