Posted by: Andy Kelly
I’m starting this wine heaven review with two confessions. Firstly, I’m not the biggest sparkling wine drinker in the world and I've got much to learn. Secondly, I have never tasted an English sparkling wine! Whilst my first confession can be forgiven, after tasting the Classic Cuvee from Nyetimber, my second one cannot.
English sparkling wine arrived very late to the dance but in the 40 or so years since vines have been replanted in England, we’ve come a very long way. It wasn’t always this way either. Despite what people say about how climate change has helped the vine flourish in England, grapes have been successfully harvested here since the days of the Romans. We were producing reds and whites that rivalled the best Bordeaux had to offer in the medieval times and then, thanks to a varying climate, the Reformation and the dissolution of the monasteries, we stopped. Bordeaux wine was cheap enough already and wines from Champagne had begun to cause a stir in England long before Dom Perignon perfected the process so we just never got going again. Until now.
Nyetimber can trace its roots back to a mention in the Domesday book in 1060 but it wasn’t until 1988 that vines were planted in the area. From then until 2007 its popularity grew steadily until husband and wife winemaking team Cherie Spriggs and Brad Greatrix were recruited by the new owner Eric Heerema. Since 2007, Nyetimber has helped thrust English sparkling wine onto the world stage and today English sparkling wine is considered a credible rival and alternative to Champagne. Nyetimber themselves have been lapping up awards since 2013 and it’s fair to say that it is the Bollinger of the English sparkling wine world.
Recently, I conducted a zoom tasting with my partner and my parents. We agreed on trying the Nyetimber as we were all happy to drink a sparkling wine (my mum is the connoisseur here) and it meant that my dad and I wouldn’t dominate the conversation talking bollocks about red wine. We both purchased Nyetimber Classic Cuvee for the occasion and cracked it open.
The Classic Cuvee is made from 100% Champagne grapes in varying quantities (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier) and has been made in the traditional method meaning that it is champagne in all but name. It was pale lemon with subtle aromas of brioche and yeast permeating from the glass on the first pouring. Over time these aromas gave way to notes of green apples and pear.
The fizz surprised me at first and left a creamy mousse at the top of the glass and in the mouth. It was dry, very acidic and offered notes of green apple, pear, lemon and a touch of honey as it went down. The finish was long and very moreish, needless to say it was gone before we knew it!
Nyetimber have really got their act together when it comes to promotion too. Their website is slick, responsive and packed with information on the wines. They offer experiences, deals when buying the wine for your wedding and you can buy direct from them. You can also find their latest job information on there so jobseekers take note!
All in all, my experience tasting my first English Sparkling wine has been a very pleasant one and it deserves its place among the other wine heaven inductees. I drank a wine as good as any champagne I’ve tasted and it has opened me up to an entire new wine region that otherwise I wouldn’t have given much thought to. If England can produce wines as consistently good as this then our industry has got a long and bright future ahead of us.
Check out Nyetimber’s website here
To purchase Nyetimber then please click here