Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nyetimber's Classic Cuvee 2003 from England was Crowned Champion of Sparkling Wines in the World

It caught me pretty much with surprise, when I read that Nyetimber's Classic Cuvee 2003 had been crowned champion of worldwide sparkling wines in the 2nd annual "Bollicine Del Mondo" competition in Verona, Italy, impressing judges more than sparklers from French legends such as Bollinger, Pommery and Louis Roederer. In all, 52 wines were tasted blind by a panel of oenologists, winemakers, sommeliers and journalists at the competition which is run by Italy's wine magazine Euposia.

This is clearly part of the changes that are going on in the global wine market. New wine countries are emerging. They are emerging for two reasons. Some of them are benefiting from climate change as the northern border for wine growing is pushing up. Others are emerging countries and with the general economic expansion, the demand for wine and the production of wine is also going up. England is a prime example of an emerging wine country because of climate change. Many eastern European countries are emerging wine countries. Hungary, for example, has a long tradition of wine making and at some point in its history it was among the top wine producers of the world. But it lost contact to Western Europe as a result of the iron curtain and fell back, but is now clearly reemerging as major wine producer. Slovenia has reentered the international market quickly after the collapse of Yugoslavia in the mid-1990s and is producing now outstanding wines. Croatia is a bit behind, but has excellent potential. Serbia still has a long way to go. Poland has never been a major wine producer, but may benefit from climate change.

The UK now ranks a lowly 63rd on the list of the world’s wine-producing countries, but Nyetimber confirmed what many experts have been saying for some time: UK sparkling wines can compete internationally.

What is Nyetimber? For all the innate Englishness of the Nyetimber Manor Estate, Nyetimber as a commercial vineyard has always enjoyed international influence. A couple from Chicago, Stuart and Sandy Moss had the unusual ambition to find a location outside France where it would be possible to produce sparkling wine to rival champagne. They established Nyetimber Manor Estate in 1986 and - amid much industry skepticism - began the vineyard planting in 1988, using the three classic champagne varieties, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. In 2001 the Mosses decided to retire back to the States and sold the Nyetimber Estate to the songwriter and record producer Andy Hill as a rural retreat. Nyetimber’s present owner, Eric Heerema, bought the Nyetimber Estate in March 2006. It is now the largest vineyard estate in the UK at 350 acres under vine.

Picture: Nyetimber Vineyards

Nyetimber brought English (sparkling) wine on to the world map. Will other countries follow? Russia used to produce famous sparklers, but the industry has suffered badly from many decades of communism.

Germany is one of the largest sparkling wine markets in the world, but not among the stars, although outstanding sparkling wines are increasingly produced in Germany. One out of four bottles of sparkling wine is consumed in Germany, roughly 500 million bottles. Sekt is made in all German wine regions, both in the méthode traditionnelle and charmat method. Increasingly, there are a number of top quality winemakers, who, in addition to their still wines, have started to include Sekts in their portfolio. These Sekts are typically vintage Sekts, from a specified vineyard, made of specific grapes, often Riesling, in the méthode champenoise and with little or no dosage (brut or extra brut).

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  1. I'm curious: What's the market price for the Nyetimber?

  2. I saw the wine for BPound 30 on the internet.

  3. Dr. Schiller,

    I was wondering whether you had seen this wine in the USA. I live in the DC Metro area, and I am often in New York.

    Also, I was curious. In your article, I don't think you said you had actually tried it. I'd love to know your impressions.

    Best Regards,