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Busi Jacobsohn

British wine makers are taking on Champagne

Busi Jacobsohn
Busi Jacobsohn
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The landmark moment that proves British wine makers are taking on Champagne

The Telegraph , Luxury editors choice, writing explaing about the “Hallmark Great British Classic Method”

English sparkling wine has come a long way over the last decade or two and as the industry, and its reputation, have grown there have been many landmark moments to celebrate.

I’m thinking of the times that English sparkling wine has beaten champagne in blind tasting competitions; the planting of huge and ambitious new estates like Rathfinny on the South Downs; the transformation of wine farms into places whose restaurants and tours put them on the rural tourist trail; new export deals that take wine from England and Wales around the world; and the statistical milestones passed on the way to becoming a country with 770 vineyards, 3,500 hectares of vines, 165 wineries and a production (in 2019) of 10.5m bottles.

Now there’s a new landmark moment: the introduction of a smart new quality hallmark for sparkling wines, called the Great British Classic Method hallmark. I admit this doesn’t have the glamour of some of the other moments but it’s an important branding stage as the wines of England and Wales build a reputation as world-class sparkling wines.

“Classic Method” wines are those that are made in the same way as champagne: the bubbles come from a second fermentation in the bottle. It’s a more expensive way to make wine sparkle than the “tank method” used to make prosecco and some of the newer, more experimental breeds of fizzy English wines.

It also brings different flavours: wines produced by the Classic Method are richer, more toasty and more complex than the more fruity, simple wines made using the Tank Method. Until now, it has been hard for customers to know which sort of wine they are buying when they buy an English or Welsh wine with fizz in it.

“We have long recognised the need to positively differentiate and protect our flagship category – [sparkling] wines produced from the classic method. This is the hero style that has put Great Britain on the wine map and led us to more extraordinarily exciting developments in our industry,” says Simon Robinson, Chair of Wine GB.

The new hallmark looks very smart and my feeling is that even if drinkers don’t always understand – or even want to know – what it means, it will become an important subliminal signal. Also, there has always been a lot of disagreement about the name we give to English and Welsh wine that sparkles. “English Sparkling Wine” is felt to be a bit of a mouthful – and not inclusive of the other countries that are part of Great Britain. Perhaps Great British Classic Method will take off? We’ll have to wait and see.

Busi Jacobsohn Wine Estate Classic Cuvée Brut 2017 East Sussex, England

Made by an Italian-Swedish couple, Susanna Busi and Douglas Jacobsohn in the High Weald of East Sussex this is an utterly brilliant sparkling wine that I cannot recommend highly enough. Made from 60% chardonnay, 20% pinot noir and 20% pinot meunier, it is beautifully balanced. The vintage is almost sold out and the new 2018 (which I have yet to taste) looks set to be the first wine in the country to go on sale with the new Great British Classic Method hallmark on the bottle.

Harvey Nichols, £38