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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 June, 2004, 23:02 GMT 00:02 UK
English bubbly sparkles in test
Champagne glasses at Vertigo, photo by Phil Coomes
Could champagne be under threat from a cross-Channel rival?
Three English sparkling wines have beaten a highly-rated champagne in a blind taste test for Which? magazine.

Wine experts sampled 18 English sparkling wines, alongside a bottle of champagne that topped a blind taste test in the magazine in 2002.

The top-rated bubbly was Classic Cuvee 1996, from Sussex winemaker Nyetimber, while two other wines outperformed the champagne and four equalled it.

However, none of the 17 English still wines tested merited special mention.

Among the sparkling wines, Kent vineyard Chapel Down's Pinot Reserve 2000 was placed second, while third was Cuvee Merret Cavendish 2000 from Sussex's Ridgeview Estate.


Which? editor Malcolm Coles said: ""English wine has a bad image but the best sparkling wines we tasted had a depth of flavour to rival champagne, and often for less money.

"It is a mystery that UK retailers aren't backing these wines and we challenge them to take up the gauntlet and sell English fizz."

The magazine found that with the exception of Nyetimber's wines, most of the top-ranked bottles were only available from specialist wine merchants or the producers.

The four wines that scored the same as the Tesco Premier Cru Champagne Brut, were from Nyetimber, Ridgeview, another vineyard in Sussex and one in Berkshire.

Southern England's strong showing is said to be partly down to a climate and chalky soil similar to France's Champagne region.

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