Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Vranken-Pommery Monopole becomes first French Champagne house to sell English wine

Published:  07 February, 2018

Champagne producer Vranken-Pommery Monopole has released its first English sparkling wine.

The launch of Louis Pommery England Brut, a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, marks the first time an English wine has been sold by a French Champagne house.

Available online now from Ocado, the release of the wine follows a production agreement between the French company and Hampshire wine producer Hattingley Valley, which was announced in 2016.

However, Vranken-Pommery Monopole is this year planting a major new vineyard in Alresford, Hampshire, Harpers can reveal.

“The vineyard will represent 32ha of plantings and we will plant the three Champagne varieties. The most planted will be the famous Chardonnay, followed by Pinot Noir and a small part will be Pinot Meunier,” said Julien Lonneux, international development director at Vranken-Pommery Monopole.

Started in October 2017, the plantings would continue until May 2019,” Lonneux told Harpers.

“Our British adventure started back in 2015; when looking at the viticulture development in the UK and the weather conditions becoming milder, we immediately seized the opportunity,” he said.

As well as fresh investment from new producers, existing big producers are expanding production.

Harpers can reveal that English sparkling producer Nyetimber, based in West Sussex and Hampshire, is now expanding into the chalky soil of Kent with plantings of 38ha of vines this year.

Nyetimber now has two sites in Kent, one in Canterbury and one in East Kent near Ashford, with its amount of land in the county totalling 55ha.

In addition, fellow Kent producer, Westwell Wines, has this year embarked on a major expansion.

Westwell Wines’ plantings of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, using Burgundy clones, will start this year with a total of 18.5 acres  (7.48ha) being planted by the end of 2019, Westwell Wines new managing director and winemaker, Adrian Pike, told Harpers.

Pike, who previously worked at Davenport vineyard in Sussex, took over production at Westwell wines in September 2017.

Although the majority of new plantings this year, will be in Kent, Sussex and Hampshire, further new vineyards are being planted in Essex, East Anglia, Dorset, Berkshire and in the Midlands.

“The new investments showed serious commitment from producers to English wine,” Brad Greatrix, head winemaker at Nyetimber told Harpers.

Vine plantings in the UK have tripled since 2004 with annual growth rate of between 7% and 10% each year according to English wine consultant, Stephen Skelton MW.

The wave of new vine plantings in the UK comes as industry body, Wine GB predicts plantings will reach at least the same amount as in 2017, when English wine producers announced a million vines planted.

“Investment is coming from several new producers and farmers are diversifying into wine production. We anticipate plantings in 2018 to be equal to or greater than the number of vine plantings made in 2017,” a vine planting industry source said.

“The big producers are expanding to spread the risk of any bad vintages at existing sites. As well as Sussex and Hampshire, there is keen interest in Kent, but also in Essex and East Anglia,” he said, with several producers wcontemplating using the Charmat method of production used in the making of Prosecco.

The expansion of wine production in the UK this year comes as Wines of GB, chaired by Simon Robinson - owner of Hattingley Valley, is poised to announce its new industry strategy focusing on exports and tourism.

This May, Vineyards of Hampshire, a collective of seven English wine producers, will launch the county’s first Wine Tourism Route called ‘Cellar Door Experiences.’

Producers in Hampshire will open their doors to tourists on Fridays and Saturdays on specific dates in the summer and in September., with producers currently drawing up a map for the new wine route, which will allow wine drinkers to taste and purchase wines at vineyards.

Highlighting the expansion of the English wine industry, Wines of GB, is this year hosting its first wine tasting at RHS Lindley Hall, on April 26th, a far larger venue than One Great George Street, where English Wine Producers tastings were previously held.