Article by Iain Heggie
The historic perception that Western Europe holds a monopoly on fine wine making was shattered many decades ago. A glance at any wine seller’s shelves lays testament to the magnitude of the shift of oenological geography. California, Australia, New Zealand and South America all arrived at the party as newcomers and now feature as regulars. Until recently, the UK has never been invited.
Over the last decade, the growth in production of English sparkling wines has been exponential with English still wine, while not yet hard on their heels, without doubt beginning to make their mark. With the demand for English wine rising faster than production levels, the English wine revolution is happening. English Wine is not only invited to the party to small talk with the best in the world but is now standing out as their quality increases and their style is recognised in its own right as ‘English’.
West Sussex is right at the heart of this revolution and so it is for this reason that The English Wine Company has chosen to make its base in Midhurst, a town surrounded by up and coming vineyards and exciting wine makers. The number of vineyards in England is approaching 550 and one can only see that being doubled within the next 10 years.
I hope you enjoy my wine tasting reviews over the coming months. Here is number 1!
Digby Vintage Rosé Brut 2009 – a colourful and cleverly branded sparkling wine that leaves you with no doubt as to its origins. ‘A toast to green and pleasant, a toast to England’ adorns the label.
I like the way this wine presents itself. The styling is fun and approachable and stands out from the more classical packaging that many English producers adopt. This wine’s appearance certainly reflects the more eccentric side of ‘Englishness’ and while it won’t appeal to all, it is nonetheless eye catching!
The wines appearance will certainly appeal to the English love for all things ‘pale’ when it comes to rosé. The nose has a great depth and richness. Summer berries with slight citrus tones were most welcome.
The palate gave me further reason to support this wine. My taste buds were shocked into action with a hit of acidity that gave well to a well balanced mid palate. Great importance is placed on the mid palate, as this is where a wine shows its ‘true colours’. If the nose had depth, the palate also had layers. Fresh summer fruits gave way to a generous toasty richness that is not all that common within English sparkling wine. Giving the wine extra time on yeast lees has helped achieve this and I commend winemaker Dermot Sugrue for doing just that. I was slightly disappointed with the finish the wine offered. While the wine is well balanced, the finish was not. I lost most, if not all, of the fruit very quickly but did retain a slight creamy richness.
It is not the most affordable wine but it is well produced and certainly stands up against many others I have reviewed. Would I buy a case? You bet I would!