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JOHN ROZENTALS looks a some surprising English research into a sparking wine future.

November 10, 2018 Beverage, Headline News No Comments Email Email

I know that the English rugby team occasionally has wins over the French, and admit that the Poms have had the better of the day in some epic battles, but I never thought I’d see the day when the English sparkling-wine industry would seriously be contemplating a cross-Channel assault.

Hence it was with considerable surprise that I picked up a media release trumpeting that climate and viticulture experts have identified nearly 35,000 hectares of prime viticultural land for new and expanding vineyards much of it in Kent, Sussex and East Anglia.

Prof Steve Dorling, from Univesity of East Anglia’s School of Environmental Sciences, said: “English and Welsh vineyards are booming, and their wine is winning international acclaim.

“This summer’s heatwave has led to a record grape harvest and a vintage year for English and Welsh wine, prompting great interest in investment and land opportunities.

“But despite a trend of warming grape-growing seasons, this season has been quite unusual in terms of weather. English and Welsh grape yields are generally quite low and variable by international standards, so we wanted to identify the best places to plant vineyards and improve the sector’s resilience to the UK’s oftenfickle weather.”

The research team, with help from wine producers, used new geographical analysis techniques to assess and grade every 50-by-50-metre plot of land in England and Wales for suitability.

The team’s lead author, Dr Alistair Nesbitt, said: “Interestingly, some of the best areas that we found are where relatively few vineyards currently exist such as in Essex and Suffolk parts of the country that are drier, warmer and more stable year-to-year than some more established vineyard locations.

“The techniques we used enabled us to identify areas ripe for future vineyard investments, but they also showed that many existing vineyards are not that well located, so there is definitely room for improvement and we hope our model can help boost future productivity.

“Entering into viticulture and wine production in England and Wales isn’t for the faint hearted the investment required is high and risks are significant.

“But as climate change drives warmer growingseason temperatures in England and Wales, this new viticulture suitability model allows, for the first time, an objective and informed rapid assessment of land at local, regional and national scales.”

WINE REVIEWS

Castle Rock Estate 2018 Porongurup Riesling ($25): Western Australia’s Great Southern region is emerging as a genuine challenger to established riesling areas such as South Australia’s Clare and Eden Valleys. It’s a lovely, firm but fleshy dry white with pronounced floral bouquet — almost too floral to be an outstanding match for oysters. Try it instead with some whiting for a match I think made in heaven.

Rymill 2018 GT ($20): This dry white is made from gewürztraminer, which is quite a mouthful, so little wonder the marketing people opted for the sexier ‘GT’ monicker. Like most wines made from the variety it’s quite perfumed — probably a bit too much so for this palate. But I reckon a lot of people will love it, particularly at their local Thai with a bowl of something moderately spicy. Lots of ginger in the flavour should give a clue to food-matching. Don’t cellar this one.

WINE OF THE WEEK

Castle Rock Estate 2017 Porongurup Pinot Noir ($38): Here’s another wine that proves, if indeed further proof were needed, that reds needn’t be almost inky black to be worth drinking. It’s relatively pale, yet the wine carries a great deal of flavour and body … and its so spicy that it’s almost hot, in the flavour sense, on the palate. Mostly, I guess it will be consumed alongside duck, as top usually pinot should be, but I’d love this wine also to be tried with a medium-hot lamb or beef curry.

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