Ever since the Romans first landed on our shores, Britons have been in a long and dedicated relationship with the nectar they brought with them – wine. The longest vine in the world resides at Hampton Court Palace, planted from a cutting taken in Essex by Capability Brown in 1769. It’s still there to see in all its glory if you visit today.
An interesting dinner party fact is that there's evidence to suggest that Britons ‘invented’ the drink we now know as champagne. In 1662 the Brit Christopher Merret presented a paper to the Royal Society in London that documented the process of making traditional method sparkling wines - 30 years before the technique was discovered in Champagne.
So there's no denying that Britain has a long history with winemaking, but the industry has only come to fruition in the past decade. Many will argue that this is due to the implications of the contentious subject of global warming and its effect on English vine growth. It’s certainly true that average temperatures have been rising, and look set to continue to do so over the next couple of decades at least. This has led to a flurry of investment as our climate becomes more suitable for grape growing, with a new high of 448 commercial vineyards being recorded in the UK in 2013.
We take a look at five of the best wines from the Waitrose Cellar.
Aromas of redcurrants and cherries intermingle with other complex scents of brioche derived from lees ageing. The palate echoes the red fruit flavours and the finish is balanced with a fresh touch of lingering lime.
Chapel Down Flint Dry
The style is deliberately steely and reminiscent of Chablis with a flinty mineral character yet with the lovely herbaceous tones typical of Bacchus. Crafted at the Chapel Down winery in Tenterden.
A must for celebrations this absolutely stunning sparkling wine is elegant with stone fruit flavours and biscuity aromas. This is yet another English gem giving champagne a run for its money!
Ridgeview Merret Bloomsbury
This wine provides evidence that English vineyards, with similar climate and soil to Champagne, are capable of making excellent fizz. Ridgeview is a family business producing crisp and refreshing wine.
Camel Valley Pinot Noir Brut
An elegant sparkling wine with a fine filigree mousse, youthful red fruits and a light finish. This wine is excellent to drink young or can be cellared to allow the structure and more mature characteristics to evolve.