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
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
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