Bubbling up

British sparkling wine is having its moment, and the moment may last. In 2015, sales more than doubled, while the Wine Society saw increases of only a little less than that; restaurant listings went up as well, especially in places like Fera, in Claridge’s, Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, and many haute-cuisine hot spots in Mayfair. Tasting my way through a batch of local bubbly recently, I was quite impressed by Ridgeview (the first real breakaway wine, which won a top trophy at Decanter’s World Wine Awards a few years back), Wiston Estate, Gusborne, Theale, Nyetimber, and Furleigh Estate, which also makes the wine from Steven and Bella Spurrier’s Bride Valley vineyard. They’re all first-rate. 
        Now they’re being joined by one of France’s most notable producers: Taittinger has purchased just over 170 acres of land in Kent, which has chalky soil similar to that of Champagne; about 100 acres will be planted to Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. The wine will be called Domaine Evremond, named for a French poet who lived in England and is buried, near Spenser and Chaucer, in Poets’ Corner at Westminster Abbey. It could be an omen—40 years ago, after Domaine Chandon established a French beachhead for sparkling wine in California, there was a welcome invasion, as Mumm, Roederer, and yes, Taittinger, arrived, and were soon joined by the Spanish Freixenet, which created Gloria Ferrer. A few other producers dipped their toes in the California pool, but didn’t linger, more from marketing stumbles than anything else. Taittinger, which had a major success in California, looks like a safe bet.
copyright 2010-2018 by Brian St. Pierre