English champagne (or, more correctly, sparkling wine) was the choice that revelers made for Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012. The event marked 60 years of The Queen’s reign. Over 1000 boats assembled on the River Thames, led by the Queen in the Royal Barge. A concert at Buckingham Palace starred legendary performers Elton John, Paul McCartney, Tom Jones, and even Stevie Wonder. All workers were given two additional days off from work and encouraged to get together with neighbors and eat, drink and listen to music.
While many of 2012’s celebrants were drinking English ale and ginger beer, most opted for English champagne. Much has changed in British winemaking during Queen Elizabeth’s reign. There are now over 400 registered wineries in England, and English sparkling wines have been winning international medals — even beating some French Champagnes. In 2014 England received 14 gold medals in the International Wine Challenge – all for sparkling wines.
Climate Change Affects English Champagne
While we’d like to praise HRH for the winemaking improvements, much of the credit goes to climate changes. The warmer weather now permits grapes to ripen sufficiently to make better wines – particularly in southern England where the soil is similar to that of the Champagne region of France. Some of the Champagne houses are even considering buying land in this area of England to grow their grapes.
Some of the top sparkling wine producers are Nyetimber, Ridgeview, Pebblebed, Fortnum and Chapel Down. Unfortunately they’re hard to come by here States-side. More reason to head to England. Maybe for the Queen’s 90th birthday on April 21, 2016? Sounds jolly good to us!
Barbara and Beverly