English sparkling wine could be threat to Champagne sales

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English sparkling wine could become the biggest threat to future Champagne sales if the quality and diversity of offer continues to improve.


That was the prediction of Jean Smullen, wine educator and journalist (pictured), at a special seminar focused on global sparkling wine at Vinitaly in Verona this week.


“England is the biggest competitor for Champagne,” warned Smullen, “and the Champenois need to become more aware of that.”


Smullen said in the past the most prestigious sparkling wines have come from France, but now they have serious challengers amongst English winemakers.


Speaking at a special tasting seminar, ‘Bubbles across the Waves’, Smullen claimed England had the potential to dominate the sparkling wine category in terms of quality and prestige and that English sparkling wine was one of the strongest categories emerging on the international wine scene. “It is a force to be reckoned with,” she added.


England has also, she stressed, played a significant role in the history of sparkling wine production, dating back to its beginnings by supplying glass strong enough to hold a carbonated beverage. “The sparkling wine industry owns its origins to the English and their glass making abilities rather than the French,” she added.


But despite its historical connection, England has not gone on to become a major player in the sparkling wine category, until potentially now. “If I got this in a blind tasting, I never would have said ‘England’,” said Smullen, after tasting the Bolney Estate Blanc de Blancs Brut 2007.


It has been a strong couple of weeks for English sparkling wine producers in the international market following the success of their first stand at Prowein last month


“Watch this space,” said Smullen, “particularly for sparkling wines.”


The Bubbles Across the Waves seminar looked at award-winning sparkling wines from nine countries ranging from Russia to Brazil.


Vinitaly continues in Verona until April 10.



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