For those of you still skeptical about global warming, I offer three little words: English Pinot Noir. For years, English vineyards have struggled along in their cool climate without an abundance of sunshine, producing wine from hybrid forms of early-ripening, mostly white grapes; often the wines have been sparkling, where the tartness of less than total ripening could be considered a virtue. It was easy to be a skeptic.
Last year, there were rumors that it had all begun to change, with the 2008 vintage. An English Pinot
Noir, from Bolney Wine Estate, in Sussex, trumped a red Burgundy in a televised tasting; other
examples also sold out quickly. Now the English Wine Producers trade association’s competition results have been released, and Pinot Noir dominated the red-wine category, with far more medals than ever before (judged by an objective panel of Masters of Wine). In fact, the overall winner was a Pinot, from Plumpton College. Two others—Gusbourne Estate, and Sharpham, also won gold, with several more gaining silver and bronze. I’ve had a chance to taste a few and have to admit that, though I wouldn’t mistake any for Burgundy, they were quite good, with honest varietal character.
Then, last week Denbies Wine Estate, in Surrey, announced that they’d planted four acres of Sauvignon Blanc and hired Brendan Seal, winemaker and viticulturist at Mount Edward in New Zealand to oversee their new wine program. We may have a shot at being locavore winebibbers after all. . .