German beer, Japanese sake and English champagne

Blind tastings are often wonderful fodder for stories. New world wine bests old world classic. Upstart beer wins taste test over best seller, or Taiwan scotch beats Scottish Scotch .

In this case, we have English sparkling wine (it can't be called champagne as indicated in the title of this article of course, because only grapes grown in the Champagne region get that luxury) winning a taste test over French champagne. Here is the full story from the Telegraph.

England is not known for its grape growing climate. While Britain is one of the world's largest importers of wine, English domestic wineries are tiny in comparison. The Romans introduced viticulture to England but in large part, England was warmer then than it is now. Indeed, in a previous inter-glacial period (when England was still part of continental Europe) it appears that grapes grew wild in areas which are currently far too cold to support vines.

Wineries in England are concentrated in the warmest areas such as Kent and Sussex, but due to England's latitude (roughly as far north as Calgary), the growing season extends into October, exposing grapes to rain, wind and frost potential. However, all of those factors mean high acidity which is an excellent feature for sparkling wine. Ironically that means England could be beating France at its own game. Nyetimber's Classic Cuvée 2003 (from Sussex) was crowned Champion of Worldwide Sparkling Wines in the competition run by Italy's wine magazine Euposia. Who would have guessed?

Unfortunately, Nyetimber's Cuvée is not available in Alberta. We will have to satisfy ourselves with French champagne.