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Anthony C

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Does English wine have a classification system?Ideas for one

by Anthony C » Fri Jan 10, 2014 5:32 pm

Ive been reading about (and tasting) a lot of English wine lately, and im very impressed. As I said in another post, gone are the days when English wine was a bad joke (although ive found few English reds, and those I did find, whilst far from undrinkable, didn't come anywhere close to the whites-especially the sparking wines).

As anyone might have read in my thread about those suggestions that the buoyant and award winning English sparking wine industry adopt a single name to rival Champagne (apparently, `Merrett`, is a popular suggestion), it would be interesting to know if English wine actually has any kind of classification system, or if the English wine market is still too young for that?

If not, what would you suggest?

My suggestion would be as follows.

The UK government and all relevant food authorities should give the current, voluntary, wine industry body, the UK Vineyards association, full regulatory powers over all wine production, backed up with legislation, and make it a legal requirement that the only UK vineyards allowed to sell wine under the name English/Welsh/Scottish (if such a thing ever exists) wine, are those who belong to the UK Vineyards association. In other words, join up or you cant sell your wine.

The rules of said industry should be

1. Sparkling wine should be a separate sub classification within any official classification system, due to the dominance of Sparkling wine amongst English wine production. I believe there should be a unified Champagne-esq name. Although the suggestion `Merrett` is popular (in honour of the man who apparently predated the Champagne method by 30 years, and championed and encouraged by the award winning Ridgeview vineyard), there is still opposition to it in a significant proportion of the English sparkling wine market. But at some point, something has to give. Eventually, rules have to be enforced and a bit of logic applied. If some of the naysayers refuse, well, sadly they will have to deal with the consequences.

Essentially the rules of Sparkling wine/Merrett production in my mind should be as follows. Any Sparkling wine producer entering the market after the rules come into effect must apply the `Merrett` method as practiced by the Ridgeway Estate, or they can only call themselves English Sparkling Wine, not `Merrett`.

However, in order to make SOME concessions to sparkling wine producers around before the rules come in, they shall be allowed to produce and use the name `Merrett` but continue to use their pre existing grape combination and pre existing methods.

Any wine producer producing a wine that does not match the `Merrett` method but is still considered a Sparkling, can only call themselves English Sparkling Wine

2. For all else, I loath unnecessary complications. I believe a good labelling/classification system should be basically as follows

WINERY

GRAPE TYPE (THE MAJORITY GRAP BEING THE GRAPE ON THE LABEL). (in the case of Merrett, simply MERRETT, goes here)

LOCATION (either English county, or, if we want to be unique and specifically English, how about the location based on historical English regions, such as the ancient `kingdoms` of Wessex/Mercia etc. After all, a bit of history on a label never did any harm

VINTAGE-75% of grape must come from given year
Plus all the usual alcohol content stuff etc


So for example, the standard label of any English wine could look like this


FALMOUTH ESTATES

PINOT NOIR

CORNWALL

VINTAGE
2014




All seems fairly straightforward and, as the native wine market becomes gradually more established and widespread in Britain and, who knows, abroad, it will need to happen at some point (unless it already has an ive wasted my time typing this).

Id also want the UK government to help promote the industry with tax and duty relief, and by helping industry to set targets-for example tax relief for vineyards that either produce X amount of award winning wines in x amount of years etc, to encourage quality, as well as some sort of assistance for domestic producers who produce X amount of profit in x amount of years-the reason being that as climate change kicks in, as one of the few positives, governments would be foolish not to take advantage of the economic benefits such a new industry could present
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Howie Hart

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Re: Does English wine have a classification system?Ideas for one

by Howie Hart » Fri Jan 10, 2014 6:54 pm

% alcohol and some designation of sweetness?
Chico - Hey! This Bottle is empty!
Groucho - That's because it's dry Champagne.
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Re: Does English wine have a classification system?Ideas for one

by Victorwine » Fri Jan 10, 2014 8:29 pm

If you’re a member of the EU and a wine producing country your wines fall into basically two categories (1) Quality wine produced from a specific region (this could be site specific, town, village, county, or state) or (2) Country wines. (I believe this goes for any wine producing country that imports wine into the EU market).

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Peter May

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Re: Does English wine have a classification system?Ideas for one

by Peter May » Sat Jan 11, 2014 9:54 am

You've put a lot of thought into it, but there are already classifications for wines made in the UK, which is basically the EU wide appellation rules of PDO and PGI.

It's already the law that English & Welsh wines must be made from grapes grown in vineyards in those countries. ('British wine' is the name for beverages made from imported musts/dried grapes - never confuse British with English/Welsh where wine is concerned!)

A vintage wine must be legally at least 85% from that vintage (rather than the 75% you suggest).

You mention those making 'Merret' must conform to the methods used by Ridgeview. It's not clear what you mean by 'method'. If you mean the 'traditional' or Champagne method then I am in basic agreement with that: I think Merret is a good name (and it sounds like 'merit').

But if you mean that it must only involve one or more of Chardonnay/Pinot/Meunier I am not. I am not at all convinced these are the only varieties for making excellent sparkling wine. Others in England have been making quality traditional method sparkling wine for longer. I'm drinking Camel Valley's 2010 Annie's Anniversary Brut. This is a wonderful traditional sparkling wine and it's 100% Seyval, One of the best fizzes I've had.

Making vineyards/wineries belong to UKVA I don't agree with - they have too many costs place don them already and up to now people going into wine in the UK have been mavericks. We are still at an early stage and the fewer restrictions placed the better I think.

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Re: Does English wine have a classification system?Ideas for one

by Steve Slatcher » Sat Jan 11, 2014 7:57 pm

The two regions (AOCs if you will) for UK quality wines are England and Wales. Apart from the rules about the geographical locations, these wines also have to meet the general EU rules, e.g. the vines must be vinifera or one of a small number of allowable hybrids. I don't think there are many restrictions other than the general EU ones.

I understand from one of Stephen Skelton's books that attempts to defined smaller regions were scuppered because several producers have vineyards that are widely scattered would have been adversely affected. The regions would have been pretty arbitrary anyway as we understand little about UK terroir yet.
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Re: Does English wine have a classification system?Ideas for one

by Anthony C » Sun Jan 12, 2014 5:47 pm

All good points.

I think a good way of ensuring quality of English Sparkling Wine, and giving it some sort of distinctive identity would be simply to gain PDO status from the EU and in the UK, but more simply, mainly as a marketing thing (although perhaps to also feed into a desire to protect quality), follow the example of Chateau-neuf. They have an identifiable stamp on them, being the papal arms on the bottle. What does England have that foreigners are obsessed with, its monarchy. What does the British monarchy do which producers and companies love to acquire even in this day and age?

A Royal Warrant. The right to say "By Royal Appointment". Apparently, especially outside the UK, it is a very sought after marketing tool which takes advantage of general interest in the royal family and all things British.

If English Sparkling Wine was granted en masse a Royal Commission, and the right to have the royal arms embossed on the bottle much like the Papal Arms on bottles of Chateau-neuf, well, I think we would be surprised what that might do to the marketability of English Sparkling wine, and thus the demand for and profits of the various producers, in the overseas markets

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Re: Does English wine have a classification system?Ideas for one

by Peter May » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:12 am

Anthony C wrote: A Royal Warrant. The right to say "By Royal Appointment".


That is granted by the Crown to their chosen suppliers. I can't see it granted to every UK wine producer.

I'm not sure that English sparkling wine is having any difficulty in selling. At the moment the problem is producing enough to meet demand, especially after the 2012 washout
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Re: Does English wine have a classification system?Ideas for one

by Victorwine » Mon Jan 13, 2014 3:16 pm

Chianti Classico Region of Tuscany, Italy have their “Black Rooster” The English could have their “Golden Dragon”

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Re: Does English wine have a classification system?Ideas for one

by Peter May » Mon Jan 13, 2014 7:52 pm

Victorwine wrote: The English could have their “Golden Dragon”



All right... I'll fall for it Victor. Why a Golden Dragon?
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Re: Does English wine have a classification system?Ideas for one

by Victorwine » Mon Jan 13, 2014 8:16 pm

Crest of Camelot and King Arthur?

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Anthony C

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Re: Does English wine have a classification system?Ideas for one

by Anthony C » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:11 pm

Peter May wrote:
Anthony C wrote: A Royal Warrant. The right to say "By Royal Appointment".


That is granted by the Crown to their chosen suppliers. I can't see it granted to every UK wine producer.



Sure they could. There are an increasing number, sure, but there aren't THAT many. The royal family buys untold amounts of wine for various functions. A standing tradition of buying two or three cases of sparkling per vineyard per year, allows them to be classed as `suppliers`, gives the producers their marketing uniqueness
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Re: Does English wine have a classification system?Ideas for one

by Anthony C » Mon Jan 13, 2014 9:12 pm

Victorwine wrote:Chianti Classico Region of Tuscany, Italy have their “Black Rooster” The English could have their “Golden Dragon”

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Or take the example of the British egg industry. Use the Lion
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Re: Does English wine have a classification system?Ideas for one

by Victorwine » Tue Jan 14, 2014 8:30 am

According to George Taber in his book “Toast to Bargain Wines” Jancis Robinson is the “gatekeeper” to wines entering the palace.

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