English Sparkling Wine
The improvement in viticulture and wine-making in England in the 21st century has been inspirational, and we are fortunate in having access to two of the finest in our neck of the woods in the West Country. Based at Higher Plot Farm just north of Langport, Guy Smith and Laura Evans planted their vineyard in a rain shadow on the edge of the Somerset Levels in 2008 and have since gained a reputation for producing top quality sparkling wine from traditional French grape varieties. Their bottle-fermented blend of Pinots Noir and Meunier plus Chardonnay has a lovely creamy mousse, zesty citrus scents and a persistent palate of bright orchard fruit. It makes a delicious celebratory aperitif or partner to shellfish.
At Wraxall Vineyard south of Shepton Mallet, Jacky Brayton and Brain Shirley also took the helm in 2008, extensively re-planting an existing vineyard in need of renovation. Their superb 'Somerset Rosé' is made from Pinot Noir and Seyval Blanc grown on free-draining, south-facing slopes. With an attractive coral pink colour, lively effervescence and red berry scents and flavours, it makes for magnificent al fresco imbibing and marries marvellously with all manner of canapés.