Why You Should Toast the Royal Baby with British Sparkling Wine
Grab a bottle and celebrate the arrival of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's baby boy!
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's first child, a little boy, is finally here, which means many royal watchers are ready to break out the bubbly. Instead of Champagne, we suggest toasting the new baby with a bottle of British sparkling wine. Thanks to England's recent ascent as a leading producer of sparkling wines, there are now more options than ever so you can pop the cork of British fizz on this royal occasion.
Sparkling wine out of England may sound a bit bonkers-and it's true that the British Isles' chilly climate has traditionally been unfriendly to winemaking. The world's best-known sparkling wines come from France, Italy, Germany, and the U.S. But in what might be one of the only silver linings of global warming, rising temperatures have had a positive effect on the production of British wine. Warmer weather has made it possible to cultivate perfectly ripe grapes in an unexpected swath of the Southeast English countryside, and the result is that the counties of Sussex, Kent, and Hampshire have been transformed into prime sparkling wine country.
Wineries such as Chapel Down and Hattingley Valley, which have been around for 18 and 11 years, respectively, are expanding. The Wine and Spirit Trade Association, which represents more than 300 companies that produce, import, export, transport and sell wines in the UK, says 2017 was a banner year for English wine (most of which is white or sparkling), and-truly a reason to toast-estimates that English sparkling wine production will double by the year 2022 to approximately 10 million bottles annually. Will Americans sip any of these wines? You bet.
Industry experts say at least a quarter of those 10 million bottles will make it to the United States, at both top restaurants and retailers. Earlier this month, Hattingley Valley signed a nationwide deal with Whole Foods to make its Classic Reserve the first English sparkling wine to be available all across the U.S.
And in what may be the biggest endorsement of English sparkling wine, the results of blind taste tests revealed it can hold its own against famous French Champagne houses. Chapel Down's Brenton Blanchard, points out that the conditions in Southeast England are ripe for growing chardonnay, pinot noir, and pinot meunier (the three classic champagne varietals)-after all, the region is just 200 miles north of France's fabled Champagne region. Many French houses are even investing in vineyards in the south of England; earlier this year, Vranken-Pommery became the first big Champagne house to release an English sparkling wine.
Whether or not the royals themselves raise a glass of local bubbly to their newest member (Chapel Down's Rosé Brut was reportedly served at Will and Kate's 2011 wedding), there's good reason to do so on this side of the pond. Known for its fresh, almost electric jolt of acidity, and a bracing minerality and orchard fruit aroma, British bubbly certainly deserves stateside recognition. Cheers!