English fizz challenging French bubblyIt's enjoying a surge in sales

08 December 2007

Many revellers will toast this festive season with a glass of English bubbly, a retailer said today.

English sparkling wine will give French champagne a run for its money this Christmas, according to Waitrose.

The retailer's sales of all English wines are up 120% year-on-year.

And last month English sparkling wines enjoyed a 360% sales surge from one week to the next.

French claret

Online sales of all types of English wine via the chain's website exceeded French claret sales last month.

The popularity boom means English wine also outsells wines from California, Alsace, Germany and Portugal, the chain said.

Waitrose Master of Wine Justin Howard-Sneyd said: 'English wines used to be regarded as the Cinderallas of the wine world - but now they are taking centre stage and deservedly so.

'It certainly looks as though many of our customers will be toasting Christmas with a glass of English fizz.'

The food chain now stocks 11 wines from English vineyards and plans to increase its range next year.

Four of those are English sparkling wines made with the same grapes as champagne - Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

English vineyards

According to the English Wine Producers marketing association, there are more than 360 vineyards in England.

Last year, they collectively produced 2.6 million bottles of white wine and 670,000 bottles of red wine.

Earlier this year English wines scooped their highest ever number of awards in the International Wine Challenge.

A sparkling wine called Greenfields 2003, made at the Denbies Wine Estate in Dorking, Surrey, won gold at the annual event.

Another 20 English wines were awarded either silver or bronze medals, making the total number of awards the highest since the contest launched 24 years ago.

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