The best sparkling wines to sample during English Wine Week

Words by
Charlotte McManus

24th June 2020

From rich Sussex NVs and a fruity Berkshire rosé to a world-first from Louis Pommery, our editors have rounded up the top homegrown fizzes to sample from across Great Britain

Staged each year by WineGB, English Wine Week is a highly anticipated celebration of homegrown wines bottled across the UK, putting the spotlight on top vineyards, supporting retailers and standout wines within this fast-growing domestic industry. While the effects of Covid-19 may have hampered the usual festivities somewhat, there's no reason not to get into the spirit of things this summer - and of course, there's never been a better time to support local trade. 

The 2020 edition has been postponed from its original date (23rd - 31st May) to 20th - 28th June, coinciding with this week's glorious June weather. From virtual wine tastings to interviews with winemakers on Instagram Live, there are plenty of online events to partake in (see the official website for more details), otherwise you can simply lie back and enjoy the sun with a glass (or two) of these first-class English sparkling wines. 

The best sparkling wines to sample during English Wine Week

Rathfinny Classic Cuvée 2016

Celebrating 10 years since the estate was first established in East Sussex by husband-and-wife duo Mark and Sarah Driver, Rathfinny has just released a Classic Cuvée 2016, its debut signature-style vintage. The wine has been aged for 36 months in the bottle and consists of a blend of 57% Pinot Noir, 22% Chardonnay and 21% Pinot Meunier. Combining notes of orchard apples, almond brittle and honeydew melon, the new Cuvée is also rare for its kind in that it is made using grapes from a single harvest - most signature-style fizzes, such as Champagne, comprise a blend of multiple years.

The best sparkling wines to sample during English Wine Week

Hambledon Vineyard Premiere Cuvée NV

Hambledon Vineyard has been producing fine English wines from the South Downs since 1952 and remains the country's only gravity-fed, state-of-the-art winery. The estate has been undergoing some major changes of late, with work ongoing to increase its plantings with up to 200 acres of vineyards, coupled with the construction of 1.8 million bottle storage facility so that all its wine can be aged on site. With its complex nature and elegantly judged acidity and length, the Premiere Cuvée NV remains one of our favourites and is regarded by many as the benchmark of non-vintage English fizz. Pair with fresh seafood for a real summertime treat.

The best sparkling wines to sample during English Wine Week

All Angels Sparkling Rosé 2014

One of the newer estates on the list, All Angels is based in Berkshire. Working alongside the vineyard's steward owner (a lawyer who has recently retired to focus more on wine) is winemaker and entrepreneur Emma Rice - who is also the talent behind Hattingley Valley Wines - is responsible for its output. Comprised of 60% Rondo, 32% Pinot Gris and 8% Pinot Noir, All Angels' Sparkling Rosé 2014 was awarded Bronze Medal at the WineGB Awards 2018 and offers a vibrant and fresh flavour tinged with strawberry.

Blanc de Noirs 2015

Roebuck Blanc de Noirs 2015

Made from handpicked Pinot Noir grapes grown at Roebuck's Roman Villa Vineyard in West Sussex, the Blanc de Noirs 2015 only entered the market last week, making it our newest featured wine. It has been partially fermented in French oak casks followed by lees-ageing for a minimum of four years in bottle, giving it a rich, balanced flavour complemented by a silken texture. Notes of baked apples are enlivened with a hint of toasted almonds, while the finish is wonderfully long-lingering. Roebuck also plans to launch a number of Blanc de Noirs 2015 magnums later in the year.

Louis Pommery England

Aficionados of British fizz may remember that in 2018, Vranken-Pommery became the first Champagne house to launch an English sparkling wine, dubbed Louis Pommery England. It was originally produced using the facilities at the Hattingley Valley estate, but in recent years the brand has acquired a 40-hectare site in nearby Alresford, Hampshire, where the first Louis Pommery grapes will be harvested in autumn 2020. Finely balanced with a character of green apple, fresh citrus fruits and honeyed stone fruits, the wine has a robust mineral finish that it owes to the chalky nature of the Hampshire soil.