We Brits have been raking in Olympic medals all summer and I would like to add to those by dishing out a few of my own, in fact three gold medals to local wine producers.
My first goes to Nyetimber Classic Cuvee Sparkling wine. Based in West Chiltington, West Sussex, this estate was planted in 1988 by Stuart and Sandy Moss, from Chicago, and has won worldwide sparkling wine awards ahead of 13 Champagnes.
It is made from the same grapes as Champagne, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, and the estate, owned by Dutchman Eric Heerema, has grown from 35 acres to more than 400 acres, making it England’s largest vineyard.
In fact it’s so good, I recently had a customer buy some to take over to Paris for the England v France rugby game. He wanted to show his French friends that not only could we beat them at rugby but we can also beat them at Champagne making.
My second medal goes to Meonhill English Sparkling wine.This vineyard is based in Hambledon, Hampshire, and the wine is blended by a Frenchman, Didier Pierson Champenois.
Didier is from Epernay and has transported his Champagne-making skills to the chalky hills in the MeonValley with amazing results. This wine also stands up comfortably on the global stage.
My third and final medal I award to Stopham Estate, based in Pulborough,West Sussex. Today the wines world’s main artery of cash flow comes from the sales of Pinot Grigio (aka Pinot Gris), and Simon Woodhead, vineyard director and winemaker, has produced a Pinot Gris on this estate to compete anywhere in the world.
Sadly, because of the atrocious British weather, low temperatures and rain, the vineyard has lost 80 per cent of its crop in this only its third year.
While it’s still summertime in the US and Europe, the wine is in barrels in the southern hemisphere showing reduced yields, down 18 per cent in New Zealand and up to 50 per cent in Stellenbosch South Africa compared to its 2011 harvest.
We can expect to see price rises to reflect this by the time the wine hits our shelves.
I still rate South African wines as being the best value for money in the current economic climate. The South African Rand gives a good return on sterling, unlike the Aussie dollar and, to a somewhat lesser extent these days, the Euro.
Try Koopmanskloof Sauvignon/Semillon 2011, £8. It has a beautiful structure and a long succulent finish… and it’s fairtrade too.
I’ve been lucky enough to taste a tank sample of 2012 Viognier from this estate and it is stunning. It should be on our shelves by early autumn.
If the sun persists into a late summer, look out for Percheron Grenache Rose 2011, £5.50.A wonderful pale rose with a grapefruit punch.