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Charmat method sparkling from the UK


#1

Given the rising prominence of method traditional sparkling from the UK, the high cost of production and the selling power of Prosecco; what do you think would be the reception to a charmat method sparkling produced at scale here?

Is there are grape variety to rival Glera that might prosper in the UK’s climate?


#2

The first grape that popped to my mind was Pinot Blanc, which does rather well in lovely old Blighty. Not sure whether Bacchus would also work?..
I can’t see a reason why a Charmant method sparkling wouldn’t work in the UK. I take it you’ve got some inside knowledge?? :wink:


#3

I read “that Prosecco sales are expected to outgrow all other types of sparkling wine, increasing by over 36% over the next five years from 25.2m cases to 34.4m cases (or 412.8m bottles), giving it a 9.2% share of the global sparkling wine market. In contrast, Champagne is expected to show just 1% volume growth over the same period, with Spanish Cava remaining stable” and can’t help but think there is a hole needing to be filled!

Good call on the Pb


#4

@partners_in_wine

What a great question!!

I think there are two big stumbling blocks. First the high cost of growing grapes in the UK. There are no really cheap English/Welsh wines, so if you’re going to make fizz you may as well make a premium one.

Secondly - the name. We don’t have a name for a UK traditional method wine. What would a charmet method fizz be called, and would people ask for it when Prosseco just trips of the tongue?

Prosseco’s rise has been tremendous, how much if that is due to the name when there are so many sparkling wines available?

When I started drinking wine – many years ago – Vouvray was synonymous with sparkling wine, but now?


#5

I think you would need to answer some serious questions about marketing first before you even launched into such a thing.

Prosecco is a low-cost wine, generally with a sort of “hen night” image at the lower end. It’s a volume-produced wine, often with margins shaved to the bone.

Methode traditional wines, such as Champagne, English Sparkling wines, Franciacorta etc. do not seek to compete on price but on quality. The extra production stages plus longer time in cellar all result in a different flavour profile that cannot be achieved through the Charmat process. Also, the best English sparklers really need at least three years on the lees, so thats an added cost of financing plus cellar space to add in. And finally - a real killer this - grapes in England only give between one third to (at best) one half the yield of the same grapes in, say, France or Italy.

There’s a natural disposition in all that stuff I just mentioned towards success being located at the higher-quality, higher cost end of things. Bluntly, Charmat wines are at the other end of the game.

Having said all that, if you wanted to try it, I think you need a grape like Glera which has a simple but fairly recognisable aromatic profile, as the absence of aromatics derived from secondary ferment and lees will need that. Bacchus definitely fits that bill, though I don’t really know how well it comes out when made into a sparkler. Maybe some of those Germanic oddities that make rather poor still wines might turn out to be just the thing.

I wouldn’t put any money on such a thing though myself - I don’t think the omens look good.


#6

Bear in mind tho’, that Champagne already has huge sales in the UK, the UK is the largest export market for Champagne wherea Prosecco has come from a very low penetration.

At time like these I like going back to the text books used when I did the WSET in the 80s; no mention of Prosecco!

Asti Spumante was the Italian fizz on everyones lips (not mine tho’ :slight_smile: )


#7

Takling the English grape part of your question…

Camel Valley’s original and oldest vineyard is planted with Seyval Blanc, and I think it makes a super methode traditional fizz which I prefer to the other Camel Valley’s fizz made from the (yawn) Pinot/Meunier/Chardonnay trio.


#8

Yes, there are several non-holy trinity of PN/PM/CH English sparklers. Another couple I can think of is Danebury’s “Cossack” (sold by M&S) and the sparkler from the vineyard that is literally over the road from Nyetimber, but whose name escapes me (sorry!) But I’m sure thare are plenty more, sold locally mostly. They are all Traditional Method rather than Charmat, as best I know.

Incidentally, Pinot Blanc does make a good sparkler - it’s one of the minor Champagne grapes. There are several 100% PB champagnes, nearly all coming from around the Celles-sur-Ource area. I don’t think the Society offers one, but Waitrose and M&S do. The Piollot Val Colas one is very good.

But again, it’s really a grape that shines in the Traditional Method process. I don’t think it has the aromatic oomph for a winning Charmat sparkler.


#9

Another major reason for Prosecco’s success is that its sweeter, and appeals to new and casula wine drinkers.

Most Champagne and traditional methode fizz in this country is Brut, while it’s difficult to find a brut Prosecco. Most is ‘Extra Dry’ which, counter intuitively, isn’t dry.


#10

The Society’s lovely Cremant d’Alsace is made from Pinot Blanc and some auxerrois too, and it’s a delicious aperitif. But as you say - it’s a traditional method sparkling wine.


#11

Agreed, Breaky Bottom also do a Seyval Sparkler which in my opinion is wonderful :+1:


#12

@Ghost-of-Mr-Tallis

I couldn’t see Danebury on the M&S website but they do have Chapel Down MT made from Bacchus. I wonder if they have single bottles in my local, as I don’t want to get a case from the web…

When you remember that name, please post it,


#13

What a fascinating thread.

I looked at the economics of a virtual winery model (akin to Kim Crawford) and it just doesn’t stack up. Kim Crawford was the best selling NZ wine in the US for years without owning a thing other than the brand. He was buying grapes (Chardonnay and Sb) for less than £1000/tonne. In the UK I’m guessing that any grapes would be at least three times that.

It also throws open an interesting thought around regional outputs. France, Italy etc are defined by their regional offerings and, for example, a blanc de blanc from the Languedoc in no way undermines the prestige of Champagne. I wonder in time whether UK production will become regionalised as it matures?

Finally, I have the perfect name for sparkling wine from the UK, but will keep it under my hat for now! My colleagues in NZ last year groaned in unison at the prospect of the Poms using anything with “Fizz” in the title!!


#14

Good call! I was thinking along the lines of champagnes at that point, but of course crémants - especially from Alsace - will be the most likely to come to hand.

It’s called Nutbourne “Nutty”, the vineyards being Nutbourne Vineyards. But having said that, I’ve looked at their website, and it’s now a majority of PN/Ch with some Reichensteiner. I’m pretty sure it used to be majority Reichensteiner, though I’m pushing my grey matter out to its far limits now!

At the moment, sparkling wine is the real action area for quality wines. With the best will in the world, our still wines still have some way to go (with perhaps Bacchus looking like a possible contender for the most likely to make a mark that lasts). So I guess regionalisation will be most likely within that category. We can see pressures in that direction with the attempt to go for the Sussex PDO, though personally I consider that one to be a misfire. But in due course I suspect with more experience something more well-founded will emerge.

It is an interesting topic - thank you for starting it!