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Issues regarding English Fizz


#1

I have 2 issues to share with members. The first is the price of English fizz (all outlets not just WS) There is no reason why it should not be priced to compete with Prosecco or French Cremant. We all know that champagne is over priced because of world demand and its exalted status but if ever English sparkling wine is to compete then price is its biggest impediment.
My second “gripe” is the price now being charged by some wineries for a tour, eg Denbies, Chalk Valley. Surely the tour is the vineyard’s shop window; would I pay first to enter a commercial art gallery to buy a picture. When I visited NZ and South Africa even Cloudy Bay in the former and Warwick in SA did not charge. Maybe they do now! Islay distilleries do not charge for a tasting malts either.
An oenological 2019 to you all!


Welcome to The Society's Community
#2

Hello Chris,

Welcome to the community! :clinking_glasses:

I moved your post to its very own subject (you can edit its name if you wish), hope that’s ok :blush:


#3

Hi Chris - an interesting post.

This isn’t an expert view but I guess my thoughts on your questions are that the English Wine Industry is still at a very early stage of it’s development. It’s a product - and all new products are costly at the beginning. Setting up a vineyard is expensive and capitally intensive - buying the land, planting the vines, waiting for 4-5 years before you get sufficient harvest, dealing with our unreliable climate, the relatively small production output, high costs of marketing to establish a new product category etc.

I would expect that as the industry establishes itself prices will start to fall but it will take time. I don’t get the impression that many people are creaming off a huge operating profit and most have to diversify into areas like tourism to make their businesses viable.

Just my thought!


#4

Hi Julian

Great rant. Yes English fizz is expensive but the picture changes when you compare like with like.

First, lets dismiss Prosecco as that’s made by a much cheaper method (Charmat - second fermentation in huge tanks) rather than secondary fermentation in the bottle the wine is sold in.

Most English Sparkling Wine (ESW) is estate wine,made from the grapes grown on the estate, whereas much Champagne comes from large brands which buy in grapes and wines from a wide area.

Much ESW is vintage, made from grapes grown in the named year, than than a NV (non-vintage) made from a blend of vintages to a house style.

If you compare a vintage estate ESW with a vintage estate Champagne then the ESW is competitive.

Now, the good news is that after good vintages ESW production in increasing and prices are going down. The excellent Chapel Down Brut Classic was £18 using M&S discount.

Tesco have has own label Hush Heath estate for £17 and Morrison have an ESW for £16.

And tho’ you can buy Prosecco for £6 there are several different quality levels and the top ones are in the £20s.

Lidl currently have Champagne at £9.99.

UK land is very expensive and weather hostile, much easier and cheaper to grow and make fizz in sunnier climes.


#5

It’s worse for English still wine: poorer quality relative to continental equivalents and prices even more out of line.

As well as the cost differential, a problem is that English wine still has some rarity/curiosity value, so people buy it to try or to be able to serve something different. So the demand curve is shifted (temporarily, as it is no longer so new). Those of us who have already tried it, so who don’t have to buy it, just have to wait until increasing supply and falling demand move the price to a reasonable level.

Consolidation of producers and drop out of vanity producers are already happening, and that will help to lower costs.


#6

There was a good thread back in May last year on English wines, you may be interested…


#7

I definitely agree with this point; Denbies was a huge disappointment to me, I’ve done several tours in Rioja, they offer greater value for money and have helped me develop an obsession with Rioja as a result.

Perhaps its because its still in its infancy in the UK but I would suspect the tours are just another example where the vineyards are looking to make a profit from the tours whilst those in Europe seem to be charging to breakeven or even as a loss leader to encourage you to buy their wine.


#8

A valid gripe.

I wonder if it’s anything to do with Denbies having London next to it?

I noticed in California that the nearer a winery was to a major city the higher the cost of its tasting.

Wineries in other US states seem often to make wine as a sideline; their main source of revenue seems to be tourism, their gift shop and renting out their grounds for weddings and functions

I’ve been to Denbies several times, taking foreign visitors there as its easy (for me) to get to and is geared up to tourism.

I guess they charge what the market will bear. If everyone who visited booked a tour then they wouldn’t cope.


#9

Hi @julianchris, There are some very good points made here in response to your questions and I thought I would add some comments from @Freddy who is the buyer for English wine amongst other regions.
Last year he did an AMA where other members raised similar points to you. The full thread can be found here :

And here Freddie has talked about production costs etc to give a better idea what English vineyards are looking at in terms of investment and personal cost. Hope it helps.


#10

As you PeterM and in the thread I posted above, English sparkling wine more than competes with it’s Champagne equivalent on a price quality scale.
Still wine is another matter at the moment, the few and it still is a few that compete on quality struggle on price, the industry is still in its infancy but is now gaining traction and who knows what the future holds.
As for tours, at this moment in time if many vineyards were not on the tourist trail they might well go under and if the novelty, and it is still a novelty here wears off people may well be reluctant to pay for what in my limited knowledge of attending English vineyard tours is not much of an experience, no miles of Champagne cellars here or historic sites, they will have to go the Aussie/Californian route with other attractions/facilities.


#11

Like most consumers, I am interested less in the winemaker’s boutiquiness, vision, etc., than in the results. My scoring system does not include marks for effort or good intentions. I admire the way that Mosel producers overcome their slopes, but that is not why I buy their wines. I buy them because they are good.


#12

I agree @SPmember, I buy because I like a wine. Not because of what the visitor centre looks like. I could not justify paying €70 to do the Ruinart tour in Reims. Not when I can go to a small grower producer who doesn’t charge at all or a nominal fee which is offset against any purchases,


#13

70 euros, blimey, shows how long ago I visited the Champagne area, I wouldn’t pay that on principal.


#14

That was this summer, couldn’t believe the price. Only really wanted to go because of the romance of being the first Champagne house. Spent my money wisely elsewhere :wink:.


#15

I’d argue that English Sparkling is priced to compete with Champagne. My guess is that it’s currently effective in doing so, given the differential in production volume. I doubt Nytimber views Prosecco or Cremant as their competitor set.

In fact, you can even see how the different ESW houses have started to position themselves in the market. Waitrose gives a good cross section:

Veuve Clicquot £40
Nytimber £35
Nicolas Feuillatte £20 (down from £27)
Denbies £17

Nytimber is a much better wine that Veuve Clicquot for sure thèse days. I’d probably take Nicolas Feuillatte over Denbies, but that’s just me.

As for Prosecco, just last week I refused to drink a second glass which was free because the first glass wasn’t nice. The drink has devalued itself in price and quality as it attracts those who want something sweet (but don’t say it’s sweet), fizzy and alcoholic which can be drunk by the bucketful. There are of course exceptions, but even those are a different drink to mid range ESW and Champagnes.

Cava made the same race to the bottom as Prosecco a decade or so ago, and thankfully is now very much on the up. I, for one, hope at least some of the English lot learn from the past and keep quality high.


#16

Actually there is a very powerful reason - the market will pay the price asked.

Just checked Laphroaig - tours with tastings cost between £10-£200.


#17

Possibly, I was using Denbies more as an example though; I do think the prices in the UK are high but considering its a new(ish) industry that gets a lot of attention in the press these days I cant blame them for wanting to capitalise on the interest…just think I’d rather save my money and buy wine instead,.


#18

Agree with above comments
Not so relevant here but to compare have been to barossa valley at least 4 times and tastings and tours were free (but most wineries there well established with big markets) to compare with living in Canada 4 years ago were paying for a tasting was standard and reflected in legal setup and lack of worldwide market at that time . I suspect English vineyard setup is a combination of these issues


#19

Whole-heartedly agree with you Julian, on both counts.
Maybe times have changed, but I feel charging potential clientele for a taste sample is the height of arrogance. Customers Are Doing Them the Favour!


#20

Customers might. But how many people who visit a tasting room actually buy the wines ?

I have no problem with tasting room fees, as they remove any obligation to buy wine, tho’ I expect the tasting fee to be waived if I do purchase there and then.