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English wines celebrate summer of success

A consumer poll has rated England fourth in the world for producing the best quality wine in the eyes of the wine buying public.

A survey conducted by The Grocer Magazine revealed that English wines came fourth after those from France, Italy and Australia in terms of quality image and perception. The poll also revealed further that: 70% of respondents are now committed to buying English wine and 11% of said English wines were the best in the world – the number is almost doubled amongst 25-34 year olds, showing how English wines are being embraced and perceived by the Millennials.  The figure is higher still amongst those living in London.Well over 90% of the respondents recognised English wines to be of good quality.

“Despite being a minnow compared with traditional wine-growing regions, English wine growers have captured the hearts of many British wine fans,” says Amy North from The Grocer.  “More than 10% of the consumers we polled say home-grown wine is the best in the world, beating Spain, South Africa and even New Zealand.”

The popularity of English wines is echoed in the rise in sales on the high street, with M&S and Waitrose both announcing a peak in trading.

Elizabeth Kelly, wine buyer for M&S reveals that sales of its English wines rose by as much as 74% in the second quarter of the year. The chain has recently grown its range to 37 English and Welsh wines from across the UK.

Waitrose reveals that English fizz was their fastest growing sparkling wine category in the last year. Becky Hull MW, English & Welsh wine buyer for Waitrose, adds that sales of English sparkling wines sales have increased by 49% and still wines are up 7.5% on last year across a range which now includes 107 English and Welsh Wines

Earlier in the year, Lidl unveiled three English wines under their Wine Cellar range.

Booths have now joined these retailers in expanding their range across their stores, adding to their current listings with wines from another four sparkling wine producers. Booths wine buyer, Victoria Di Muccio, says: “This is an incredibly exciting time for English wine and I’ve been struck by the vast improvement in quality over recent years. There has been a real increase in appetite for English wine among our customers and we now offer a fantastic selection to explore.”

Independents have also embraced an increasing range of English wines. 

Ewan Murray, PR Manager at The Wine Society, is a big supporter of English wines: “The constantly improving quality of English wines is heartening to see. Last year we launched our very first private label English sparkling wine, a clear sign to our members that the category has come of age.”

The trend continues in the on trade sector, with more and more outlets adding English wines to their lists. One notable recent example is The Ritz London, which is now listing English wines for the first time in its history. Head Sommelier, Giovanni Ferlito says: “I believe these wines beautifully complement the list and it’s exciting to now offer our guests an English sparkling wine option as an alternative to Champagne.” 

Wine list consultant and Sommelier Wine Awards judge Jade Koch, notes the change in perception among the on-trade: “You used to find yourself having to explain why you had an English wine on the list, now you're more likely to need to explain why you don't.” Jade has listed English wines at Padella and Trullo restaurants – the only non-Italian wines to be included.

English wines sales are also going global, with England currently exporting to 15 countries around the world.  The largest shipment of English wines is heading for US later this month.

“The ever-growing ready availability of English wines, coupled with consistently fantastic results in competitions is encouraging wine consumers to turn to English wines,” comments Julia Trustram Eve, marketing director of English Wine Producers, the driving force behind the marketing and promotion of English wines within the industry. “By the same token, those consumers are motivating the demand for more English wines to which retailers and restaurants are responding. English wines are now recognised for the great wines that they are.”

Echoing the record number of medals our athletes are winning in Rio, English producers have seen their best year ever for competition triumphs.  Across the board, English wines have exceeded all previous gains in the International Wine Challenge, Decanter World Wine Awards, Sommelier Wine Awards, Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships and International Wine & Spirits Competition, a fact that was broadcast by the individual competitions as they announced their results.

Pictured: Three Choirs Vineyard

22 August 2016 - Felicity Murray The Drinks Report, editor