English fizz ‘more energetic’ than Champagne

We have long been supporters of English Fizz and feature fine examples in many of our tasting events as well as drinking it!

Although we don't yet feature any wines produced by Digby (we will sample some shortly!), we found this recent article from Drinks Business more that just a bit interesting.

If you haven't tried English Sparkling Wine then you are missing out on great wines that rival, and sometimes surpass Champagne!

Trevor Clough, co-founder and CEO of Digby Fine English, said: “English sparkling wine very much has its own taste and identity. It has an energy and vivacity that you don’t always find in Champagne.

“England is a touch cooler and the impact of the chalk soil can really be felt in the wines. Each of the different key regions: Kent, Sussex and Hampshire bring different things to the table – Kent brings warmth, Sussex richness and Hampshire structure to the blend. I think blending from all three creates a sparkling wine that’s greater than the sum of its parts.

While Clough describes the 2014 vintage as “bountiful and beautiful”, he’s also optimistic about the quality of 2015 due to a sunny summer and great weather during flowering.

Digby’s Trevor Clough (left) and Jason Humphries

Rather than playing the volume game and driving down prices, Clough believes it’s imperative that English sparkling wine producers work together to collectively promote the quality of the wines.

“We’ve got the weather, soil and terroir to produce amazing wines. We need to take English sparkling wine around the world and in order to do so, we need to stick to our guns on quality.

“It’s a very collegiate atmosphere here, everyone has been very welcoming of us. We need to grow the industry together and be smart about it. I think a collective name for English sparkling wine is more of a risk than anything – it risks turning it into a commodity, but retailers might think it’s a good idea.

“The next big thing is a movement towards sub-regions in England – I think the proposed Sussex “PDO” is a great idea,” he added.

Launched in 2013 with the 2009 vintage, Digby Fine English is the first négociant-style English sparkling wine brand that owns neither a winery nor vineyard land.

At the moment there are three wines in the Digby portfolio: a vintage brut, a vintage rosé and non-vintage rosé Leander Pink, in addition to Harvey Nichols’ own-label English fizz made in collaboration with Digby, which, according to Clough, signals a maturing of the English sparkling wine market.

All of the wines are made at Wiston Estate by Dermot Sugrue, who Clough describes as a “mad genius artist”. Just 10,000 bottles of Dibgy were made in 2009 but the ultimate goal is to produce 10,000 cases across the range – both a blanc de blancs and a blancs de noirs are in the pipeline for future release.

“We want to disrupt things and shake the cage a bit. We’re going after 30-40 year old consumers who are well travelled and looking for something different. Our next move is into export markets – we’d love to have a presence in Japan. Our style is dry and reductive, which suits sushi.

“We started with London – it’s a good time due to the trend for eating and drinking local but there’s a lot of competition in the on-trade as established brands can throw cash around and win listings that way,” Clough admitted.

He believes we’ll see more négociant style players entering the English sparkling wine market due to the cost savings the model allows for, freeing up cash to invest in marketing and promotion.

“We’re getting quite close to making a profit and have been working hard to win listings at new restaurants and bars. I see Digby as more of an experience than a product and the on-trade is the best way to communicate this message,” Clough told db.

“British luxury brands are appreciated around the world in all spheres, from engineering and design to fashion as they combine form and function and are beautifully designed and elegantly executed.

“We want to be part of that conversation so our foils have a purple lining and the neck has a hound’s tooth motif,” he added.

DEPARDIEU: ‘I drink 14 bottles of wine a day’

Can someone please do the maths and let us know just how many units per week he consumes? Not being a medical professional Wine Guy reckons that he should be dead by now, and at the very least dead drunk on a daily basis if he consumes even one half of what he claims. Wine Guy wonders what it would be like to have a lunch with him, or is that a 'liquid lunch'? 14 bottles per day....doubt it!

As reported by The Mirror, in an interview with So Film, the 65-year-old actor made the shocking revelation: “When I’m bored, I drink. Apart from compulsory moments of abstinence. After bypass surgery, and also because of cholesterol and stuff, I have to be careful.

“I’m not going to die. Not now. I still have energy. But if ever I start drinking I can’t drink like a normal person. I can absorb 12, 13, 14 bottles per day,” he said.

Going into further detail, Depardieu, known for starring in Cyrano de BergeracJean de Florette and The Man in the Iron Mask, said he begins his drinking sessions at home with Champagne and red wine “before 10am”.

“Then pastis, maybe half a bottle. Then food, accompanied by two bottles of wine. In the afternoon, Champagne, beer, and more pastis at around 5pm, to finish off the bottle. Later on vodka and/or whisky,” he said.

“But I’m never totally drunk, just a little pissed. All you need is a 10-minute nap and voila, a slurp of rose wine and I feel as fresh as a daisy,” he added.

The actor, who lives in Russia and recently announced plans to make a “bio vodka” from spring water, told So Film that he drinks for the euphoria it gives him.

“What I like in being drunk is the moment when you’re alive and enthusiastic. Full stop. But when you have been there 10, 15, 20 times, 30 times, then you start losing track. There’s more to life than being drunk,” he said.

“You cannot possibly get drunk over a Grand Cru. It’s like eating nouvelle cuisine, I don’t like it. The wine I produce is not for keeping. It’s the wine you want when meeting friends for a game of cards,” he added.

The actor admitted that his doctor was “worried” about his consumption habits. He also told So Film he shot two lions in Africa. “I killed two lions once, and I understand why the lion is the king of the jungle. In legitimate self-defence.

“Imagine you’re driving and your engine breaks down. You got out, and in your way are these animals. So you shoot, just to scare them. They don’t move. I wasn’t there for hunting. I was in Africa for Africa,” he said.

Depardieu renounced his French citizenship in 2012 following President Francois Hollande’s proposals to impose a 75% tax on the countries wealthiest.

In addition to a bio vodka, he plans to open restaurants in St Petersburg and Saransk, the town where his Russian residency was officially recognised.

In 1997, Depardieu founded the Brasserie Des Sources brewery with acting friends Miou Miou, Renaud and Claude Berri. The beer launched in the UK in 2012. He also has a winery, Château de Tigne in Anjou in the Loire.

It’s Official! Women are better tasters than men.

Not that this is new to those of us who make our living in the Wine Trade.

However, Wine Guy read the article (follow link below) to learn of any new additional evidence but has the distinct impression that it was an advert for Sensory Science Testing.....never!

Comments as usual are appreciated.


Cambridge scoop Varsity wine tasting title

Wine Guy noticed this snippet of news the other day which reminded him of his own University days, well almost that is, but with one major difference.....he didn't drink wine at that time, never mind blind tasting!  However, as a student who excelled in all matters related to brewing', he was known to be able to differentiate between a Molson's and a Labatt's with relative ease.Faint  praise indeed!

The University of Cambridge's wine tasting team has broken Oxford's winning streak by winning the latest Varsity match.

The 61st Blind Wine-Tasting match was held on 18 February at the Oxford and Cambridge Club in London.

As usual, the teams had 40 minutes to taste and try and identify 12 wines , six white, six red, which had been chosen by Cassidy Dart.

Sponsors Champagne Pol Roger said the atmosphere was “tense” but that “months of diligent training were clearly in evidence.”

Cambridge and its wine consumption recently hit the news when a freedom of information request from theTelegraph revealed what colleges were spending on wine.

This sparked protests from students outside King’s College which was shown to have spent the most on wine despite not paying all of its staff a 'living' wage.  The information also spawned a chart and much detailed and deadly serious analysis on how attending a college that spent more on wine generally increased your chances of gaining a first

Last year the 60th Varsity match was held between members of the UK trade and press which the trade won by the narrowest of margins.

Wine Recognised as Part of French Cultural Heritage

A Government commission in France recently ranked wine as an essential part of France's cultural heritage and an amendment is currently awaiting approval from the Senate.

The campaign to have wine officially recognised as part of France’s “cultural and gastronomic” heritage has been long running and the cause taken up by senators from various departments.

A previous effort to gain recognition was rejected in 2012, according to France 3.

This time however a campaign led by senator Roland Corteau from the Aude department was accepted at a meeting of the National Assembly in January and then adopted by a commission for economic affairs last Wednesday.

Corteau said in his address: “Wine is a part of the 2,000 year old cultural and economic landscape of France. Passed down from generation to generation.

“It has greatly contributed to the renown of our country and particularly to its gastronomy around the world, shaping our countryside and creating the immovable and monumental heritage we know so well.

“Thanks to this amendment, we are now engaged in a real process for protecting  wine and rehabilitating it in the face of the attacks of which it is the object.”

Similar proposals from senator Gérard César from the Gironde and senator Raymond Couderc from Hérault were also accepted but have been integrated into the amendment put forward by Corteau.

The senate will discuss putting the motion into law when it reconvenes in April after the municipal elections.

Surely this means that we in the UK can begin our own campaign to have beer, ale, cider or even mead recognised, and what about Whisky??

What’s the link between classical music and fine wine?

Wine Guy read the following article by Graziano Alderighi and it got him to wondering, what are the wine matches for the many other music  genres? For instance, what would you drink while listening to rock, blues, metal, folk, country and the myriad of music styles out there? Wine Guy has yet to try the Classical experiment but he seems to always drink Australian Shiraz or Red Burgundy while listening to Neil Young, but then again.......mmmm? Let him know if anyone has tried music and wine matching, and whether you actually believe it or are as sceptical as him.

'Wine writers sometimes compare wines to pieces of music, a particular musical style or artist, or even to specific musical parameters.
To date, though, it is unclear whether such comparisons merely reflect the idiosyncratic matches of the writers concerned or whether instead they reflect more general crossmodal matching tendencies that would also be shared by others (e.g., social drinkers).
In researchers first experiment, we looked for any consensual patterns of crossmodal matching across a group of 24 participants who were presented with four distinctive wines to taste.
In second experiment, three of the wines were presented with and without music and 26 participants were asked to rate the perceived sweetness, acidity, alcohol level, fruitiness, tannin level, and their own enjoyment of the wines.

The results of experiment 1 revealed the existence of a significant agreement amongst the participants in terms of specific classical music - fine wine pairings that appeared to go particularly well (or badly) together. For example, Tchaikovsky’s String Quartet No 1 in D major turned out to be a very good match for the Château Margaux 2004 (red wine). Meanwhile, Mozart’s Flute Quartet in D major, K285 was found to be a good match for the Pouilly Fumé (white wine). The results of experiment 2 revealed that participants perceived the wine as tasting sweeter and enjoyed the experience more while listening to the matching music than while tasting the wine in silence.

Taken together, the results of the two experiments reported here suggest that people (social drinkers) share a number of crossmodal associations when it comes to pairing wines and music. Furthermore, listening to the appropriate classical music can enhance the overall experience associated with drinking wine. As such, our findings provide prima facie evidence to support the claim that comparing a wine to a particular style of music (as documented in the work of a number of wine writers) might provide the social drinker with useful clues about the sensory properties that they should expect to perceive in a wine should they eventually get to taste it.'

You Can Put Red Wine In Your Hot Chocolate

Red wine in Hot Chocolate? Really?Wine Guy learned of this phenomenon over this Christmas period, but has yet to try the concoction. He is a big fan of matching wines and chocolate but not sure if he would recommend this, but if anyone has a decent recipe, or has actually tried it please e-mail him.

Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve!!

Wine Guy was flicking through the telly this damp Sunday morning only to notice that the multi award winning Charles Heidsieck Brut Reserve was being reviewed on Channel Four's 'Sunday Brunch', and to great acclaim!

Having tasted and consumed more than his fair share of this top fizz our Wine Guy definitely agrees with the panel...it is outstanding!

Wine-Works has this amazing Champagne on sale for only £42 per bottle and are giving away a 6 pack to one lucky winner who registers on the site.

There's still time to get yours in time for Christmas.

Follow the link below.



Can China really help solve any world wine shortage?

Wine Guy knows of many colleagues in the Wine and Spirits Trade who have been aggressively pursuing wine and spirit sales growth in China, and they have been tremendously successful! The £ and $ are rolling in with the Chinese drinking better wines and more of them. Is Chinese consumption helping to drive price hikes in the Fine Wine Market. Who knows? I'm sure someone will enlighten me.

The market potential there is huge and is continuing to grow. One Whisky producer informed Wine Guy that should Chinese Scotch Whisky consumption reach anywhere near that of the UK's, they simply do not have the stock to supply them. Perhaps Wine Guy should've become a Whisky producer?

It was with great interest that Wine Guy read the article below and the views put forth. Click the link and read on!


World Wine Shortage?

According to a recent BBC report amongst others we're now facing a wine shortage.

Surely this can't be true....Wine Guy may have to moderate his consumption.

Follow link.


Wine Duty Fraud

Wine Guy read this article in Harper's Weekly with great interest. Follow the link below.

Do we think that our alcohol taxes are too high, and if so why can't the Government lower them to an acceptable level, or even on a par with our Continental neighbours?

Wine Guy remembers the high alcohol taxes the Danes once paid resulting in smuggling and many a booze cruise to Germany...what did they do in order to combat this? They lowered their own taxes on two occasions that's what! More domestic purchases, less illegal sales and a minimal change in tax revenue making most people a bit happier, especially the local wine merchants.

Time for a rethink here in the UK?

Answers on a postcard please.


Wine-Works E-Shoppe Now Launched!!

The Wine Guy is delighted to announce that the Wine-Works E-Shoppe is now up and running.

We are offering over 1000 fantastic wines, most of which are not available anywhere else!

And before you ask, we have indeed tasted every single wine...a tough job we know but The Wine Guy is more than up to the task.

Take a look, browse around the site, check out our 'wines in the press' section and buy yourself some amazing wines. Let us know what you think.

There's literally 100's of different grape varieties to choose from to fit any budget, any tastes and any occasion.

We will be adding more mixed case offerings in the coming weeks as well as a Fine Wine Section for all you who enjoy top Claret, Burgundy and Port.

Also coming soon is our new unsplit case specials where you can purchase a full case of wine from some of the world's greatest wine makers....again these are not readily available on the High Street and are offered in cases of 12 bottles only.

Wine Guy hopes that you enjoy the new site and looks forward to your comments.



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