Forget BritPop and leave the Champagne Supernovae with Oasis – English Sparkling Wine is starting to create a few classics. We hear all about the rock stars with their pet vineyards, but what if it was the other way around? What if the secateurs and hydrometers were replaced with Telecasters, drumsticks and big hair?
Nyetimber = Fleetwood Mac
It’s easy to forget that mainstream success often eluded (100% British) Fleetwood Mac until they crossed the Atlantic to join forces with Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks – most of the music we still know and love today is from this post-1975 era. Are husband and wife team Cherie Spriggs and Brad Greatrix the Buckingham/Nicks of English Sparkling Wine?
To drink – A Glass of Blanc De Blancs 2010 with “Go Your Own Way” from Rumours
Ridgeview = The Beatles
This was an easy one. There’s an amazing consistency at the heart of Ridgeview – the Roberts have kept things incredibly tight since the mid 1990s, never losing the family feeling in the same way that the Fab Four never let us forget that they were just a bunch of lads from Liverpool. With phenomenal success and competition from a new generation of producers comes a relentless pressure to keep things fresh – was the re-organisation of the portfolio and rebrand in 2018 Ridgeview’s White Album moment?
To drink – Keep it classic with a glass of Bloomsbury NV and “Eleanor Rigby” from Revolver
Hattingley Valley = David Bowie
Gusbourne = Pink Floyd
There’s something very serious about Gusbourne, and the results are as expressive as a David Gilmour guitar solo. If you’ve ever seen the maps on the wall at Gusbourne that show the kaleidoscopic rootstock/clone combinations that grace the vineyards you’ll appreciate the sort of fastidiousness that led The Floyd to pioneer the use of 16-track recording on Dark Side Of The Moon, allowing the band to layer sounds in a single song in ways that few had ever attempted.
To drink – Gusbourne Blanc De Blancs 2013 with ‘Shine On, You Crazy Diamond’ from Wish You Were Here
|Shine on…Gusbourne Blanc De Blancs 2013|
Wiston = The Smiths
To Drink – Wiston Estate Cuvée Brut 2009 with the single “This Charming Man”
Chapel Down = Led Zeppelin
Chapel Down is an institution; many of the leading figures in the industry have been intimately involved in the shifting forms this hugely important producer has taken over the years. In 1977, the year of Led Zeppelin’s fateful last tour, Stephen Skelton MW founded the original Tenterden vineyard. If Skelton is the Robert Plant of English Sparkling Wine (Plant is leading a hugely-successful touring band at the moment whilst Skelton is the go-to man for Champagne Taittinger in Kent), Owen Elias is surely the Jimmy Page, making big noises at Hush Heath after his 10 years at Chapel Down.
Chapel Down today is a different beast, embarking on an ambitious expansion.
To Drink – Kit’s Coty Blanc De Blancs 2013 with “Since I’ve Been Loving You” from Led Zeppelin III
Some other notable matches:
Hambledon = The Rolling Stones. Fuelled on a dangerous amount of the white stuff (chalk)
Breaky Bottom = John Martyn. Songs that transcend fashion and stand the test of time.
Black Chalk = Eric Clapton. Jacob Leadley has made a brilliant start to his solo career post-Cream.
Fox & Fox = Kate Bush. It just works.
Camel Valley = Iron Maiden. It’s a little-known fact that lead singer Bruce Dickinson is an airline pilot – he once flew the band on a tour in a Boeing 757. Whether I can persuade Bob Lindo to deliver me a case of Rosé in a Vulcan is another question.