Across Seagrave Road from the Atlas Pub, the fragrance of fermenting wine and new oak wafts its way into Earls Court. Unsure if London Cru was a gimmick or vanity project, I had decided to take a look. Since it normally takes half a day to get to the nearest European vineyard, it would be a change to visit a working winery on my doorstep. As it was, tasting a fementing Galician albariño made by an Aussie winemaker on a grey London day required fresh mental agility.
At first I thought the Better Value neck tags on the bottles at Tesco’s autumn tasting were just meaningless guff. Then I twigged. Some of the Tesco finest* range wines were significantly cheaper by £0.50 - £2. Cause for celebration? As I struggled though one lacklustre bottle after another, I couldn’t help feeling that wines like the *finest Douro and *finest Slovenian Sauvignon Furmint were pale shadows of their former selves.
The 135 wine producers of England and Wales will be popping corks today at the quality of the wine bubbling under in wineries the length and breadth of the country. With more moonshine than sunshine in July and August, an Indian summer has revived their hopes for a vintage year in more ways than just the year of harvest. In case you’ve been on Pluto recently, you’ll know that English sparkling wine has come of age and now accounts for roughly two-thirds of the 4.5 million bottles of English wine made.