20 best English sparkling wines to toast with this New Year's Eve

Wine news

Wed 16 Dec 2020

Sparkling wine has been a well-documented success story in England, with English fizzes frequently trumping Champagnes in blind tastings. Despite the plucky underdog tag, should the quality of such wines be such a surprise? After all, they come from similar climates, the same grape varieties, and, especially on England’s south coast, near-identical chalky soils.

Some even believe that the English were first to make sparkling wine – scientist Christopher Merret’s 1662 Royal Society paper explained how to do just that, pre-dating a certain Dom Pérignon by about 30 years. But sparkling wine only became a serious business in England in the late 20th century, when the likes of Nyetimber arrived on the scene.

Since then, the number of wineries in the UK has shot up to more than 150, and with climate change making the country a more attractive proposition, the Champenois have been quick to see the potential, with Taittinger purchasing vineyards in Kent, with the aim of producing its first English sparkling wine in 2023.

Rosé fizz is also on the rise, too, and three of the IWSC award-winners in the category are pink, including Silver winner Ridgeview’s Fitzrovia Rosé Brut NV – the winery also scooped a Gold for its Blanc de Blancs Brut 2015.

English fizz will likely never be a serious commercial rival to the Champagnes and Cavas of this world because of the tiny levels of production (15 million bottles versus 250-300 million), but the quality is undoubtedly there. The following are 20 of the best English sparkling wines, as judged in the IWSC 2020.

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Kingscote
 


Lovely nose - full, generous as well as mineral and smoky. Autolytic character shining through. The palate is focussed, fresh and taught, with lovely texture and focus. There is complexity through to the finish, which is long. 12% RRP £50 from Kingscote

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Langham 


Lovely, creamy brioche nose with bags of autolytic character, balanced out with freshness. Rich, charming palate of apricots and citrus notes, all rounded off with an elegant, long finish. 12% RRP £31 from Langham

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Black Chalk
 


Fresh white fruit on the nose, with the palate showing beautiful mid-palate fruit. Expressive, savoury and citrusy, with a crisp and refreshing finish. Very well balanced and consistent from start to finish. Lovely. 12% RRP £35 from Black Chalk

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Breaky Bottom
 


A focused, expressive nose of fresh citrus, ripe yellow apples and juicy tropical fruits underpinned by elegant chalky minerality and delicate brioche. Classy, with fine bubbles, the lively palate bursts with lemon and lime persistence, balanced by train track acidity. 11.2% RRP £31 from Breaky Bottom

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Gusbourne
 


Structure, structure, structure! This wine shows how it should be done. Fresh aromas to begin with, which develop into something a lot more interesting. Complex fruit and savoury flavours dance around your palate, with perfect acidity to structure the wine. 12% RRP £59 from Gusbourne

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Ridgeview
 


Passion fruit, yellow pear and apple on the nose. The palate is fresh, zippy and focussed, with Chardonnay character. Some fleshy Granny Smith apple and some slightly toasty notes. Impressive length. A lovely wine. 12% RRP £60 from Ridgeview

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Camel Valley
 


Vivid strokes of fresh red cherry and juicy red berries with heady aromas of rose and lily all stippled with fresh acidity. Smooth and piquant at once. Charming style with good varietal character. 12.5% RRP £29 from Camel Valley

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Redfold Vineyards
 


Big open-armed welcome with bold ripe peach and apple delicately laced with elderflower. Good brioche balanced by strong line of citrus acidity through to marvellous finish. 11% RRP £29 from Ambriel

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Fitz
 


Cascading layers of elderflower with juicy, ripe stone fruit and mandarin shining through on fresh, balanced palate edged with buttery tones. Well structured and showing good typicity. 12% RRP £21.99 from gustowines

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Greyfriars Vineyard
 


An elegant nose of biscuity brioche, citrus and sweet spice. Focused, with yellow plum, lemon and lime acidity supported by toast. Fine delicate mousse with a juicy finish. 12% RRP £32 from Greyfriars


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Gusbourne
 


An elegantly expressive nose of ripe Mirabelle, yellow apple and brioche with highlights of vanilla custard. Vibrantly complex with fresh acidity, honey and sweet spice and a fine mousse. Age worthy. 12% No longer available

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Ridgeview
 


An elegant example with fine, delicate bubbles. Full of pure red fruit, cream and hazelnut character. Balanced and well-rounded. 12% RRP £33 from Fitzrovia


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Fox & Fox
 


Very savoury nose with hints of salinity and stony qualities. The palate is taut and focused, with the acidity integrating well into the wine. The fruit opens up on the end, and leaves you with character, structure and vibrancy. 12% RRP £39 from Fox & Fox

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Harrow & Hope
 


Lavish palate of ripe honeyed fruit tightened with sinuous pricklings of tart lemon curd. Firm, fine backbone of acidity complements light nutty and floral notes in pleasing, elegant style. 12% RRP £28 from Harrow & Hope

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Langham
 


A sophisticated and complex example with flavours of toast, biscuit and macadamia nut brightened with fresh lemon and sour apple notes. Classic with a rich mousse. 12% RRP £26 from Langham


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Louis Pommery
 


Bright mineral nose and controlled explosion of lemon, apple and custard on palate. Wafts of lovely brioche in tight, balanced expressive bubbly with refined finish. 12% RRP £39.99 from Majestic


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Marlings Vineyard
 


Vibrant with a broad palate of focused ripe red berries and apple. Poised with sweet fruit flavour and refreshing acidity. 11.5% RRP £25 from Marlings


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Court Garden
 


The palate has a richness, notes of straw and lime juice. Nice texture. The finish has a lovely note of struck match which comes through, some toastiness and some quince notes. 12% RRP £29 from Court Garden


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Jenkyn Place
 

Developed nose, with hints of lime and chalk. Slightly reductive in style, the palate has silky texture, with the yeast flavours carrying through. Long finish. 12% RRP £38 enquire at Elizabeth Rose Wines


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Langham
 


A generous example with a broad, focused palate. Fresh notes of apple and lemon curd are intertwined with hints of toasted hazelnut and brioche. 12% RRP £27 from Wanderlust Wine