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7 English Wine Facts

Château Walthamstow? Come on, it has a ring.

Vineyards of Hampshire, Electric Eye Photography

1/ Priorities please, first let’s raise a glass of English Sparkling Wine to Brit scientist* Christopher Merret, who put the fizz into flat old wine way back in 1662.

2/ The Romans — those suave, sophisticates — loved quaffing a glass or two of Sancerre, feet-up watching some Gladitorial blood-fest. Brutal, true, but they did drag us ale-swilling Celts kicking-and-screaming into the first century by planting vines right up to Lincolnshire.

3/ Drink local my friends, drink local. Us booze-loving Brits slurp around 816 million bottles of wine annually, only 1% of that is English or Welsh wine, thanks for that titbit Danbury Wines. But times they are a changin’…

4/ English Sparkling Wine is the new Champagne, it’s official: get this from voice of yoof Vice. Not convinced? Well, sorry but the experts are. Only last week, Hampshire’s very own Cottonworth Vineyard won a gold medal from The International Wine Challenge, and English wines are now exported to Paris — a hard city to crack, as anyone who’s ever visited with pidgin French will know.

5/ And talking of champers, did you know that Southern England’s soil; is it pretentious if I say terroir? Just love the semantics of that word — is similar to the Champagne region, especially now we actually have a summer. Get digging, because the same chalk seam runs from Northern France across the Channel to the Home Counties.

6/ Hampshire is a hot bed for all things English Wine. Exhibit A) July’s Vineyards of Hampshire Festival run by a collective of local vintners, this year at Cottonworth in The Test Valley. Exhibit B) Wine Utopia‘s owner, Rachel Gibson, runs regular English Wine Tastings at her Stockbridge and Winchester shops.

7/ To end, a random yet true fact. London’s East End wasn’t always hipsters, high rises and baggy-trousered Nineties boybands.  Yup, way back circa 1660, a certain Lady Batten grew grapes on her country estate in erm, Walthamstow producing a “very good” red wine according to Pepys. Puts the term Grand Crew Cru in a totally different light, and Château Walthamstow? Come on, it has a ring.

Fancy tasting some of Hampshire’s finest vino? Scoot over to Muddy Hants’ Facebook page to find out more.

*OK history pedants, I know this is decades before The Union but saying ‘English’ twice in a sentence sounds shoddy, a’right.


Words: Muddy Hants Ed, Mary Malyon

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The Urban Guide to the Countryside - Hampshire & Isle of Wight