Everyone’s talking about…  Great British Pinot Noir

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Everyone’s talking about… Great British Pinot Noir

I think you mean French. 

No, British. 

How so? 

Global warming means that vineyards in the hottest parts of Britain could now produce grapes with sufficient ripeness to make red wine. 

Gimme the science… 

Over the next 20 years there could be a 1.4C rise in average temperatures, making it around 15C-16C during the vineyard growing season (April to October). 

Global warming means that vineyards in the hottest parts of Britain could now produce grapes with sufficient ripeness to make red wine

Where? 

Areas of oenological interest… 

Pardon? 

We’ll get there, hang on. As we were saying, areas of oenological interest include Cambridgeshire, Essex, Staffordshire, Greater London, Kent, Sussex, coastal Hampshire and the Severn valley. Oenology is the science and study of wines. Write it down. You’ll definitely need it sometime in the next decade. 

But I still can’t help feeling that a proper Pinot Noir producer should be squinting into the sun as it sets over the Côte d’Or… 

No, really, the Côte de Chatham is where it’ll soon be at. 

I’ve heard that homegrown fizz is also a thing. 

You’ve heard right, although you’re late to that party because Taittinger bought 170 acres of British countryside six years ago to plant vines. Corks will be popping over Kent. 

Goodness, who knew? 

 

Cote d’or? No, cote de Chatham is where it’ll soon be at

The oenophiles, obviously. 

Tell me what else they know. 

It’s not just Pinot Noir that UK vineyard owners should be embracing in the coming years but also Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Sémillon. Apparently it’s time to cast off their fear of the b-word.

And for those of us who aren’t oeno… wine nerds, that is? 

The blend.

It¿s not just Pinot Noir that UK vineyard owners should be embracing in the coming years but also Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Sémillon

It’s not just Pinot Noir that UK vineyard owners should be embracing in the coming years but also Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and Sémillon

Noted. Blended or not, though, doesn’t British wine have a bit of an image problem? 

Historically it certainly hasn’t been the coolest cork in the rack. 

As in the French rate it somewhere between cooking vinegar and Cillit Bang? 

That’s old news. British wine is now hip and everyone wants a piece of the action. Including the French. See the previously mentioned manoeuvres of Taittinger. 

Who’s buying? 

Who isn’t? Figures from WineGB (which represents UK winemakers) show that since 2019, sales of English wine have risen by nearly 70 per cent to 9.3 million bottles. 

I take it it’s the boozy baby boomers propping up this trend? 

Not necessarily: #englishwine has more than 507k views on TikTok and 122k posts on Instagram. Gen Z, meanwhile, is reporting a social media vineyard visit tsunami. Wine tourism is huge news. 

Tell me where I should be going. 

You could start with celebrity chef Michael Caines’s Lympstone Manor hotel in Devon. He planted his vineyard four years ago and is just bottling the first wines. 

Is Michael growing Pinot Noir grapes too? 

Of course he is! We’ve told you – it’s a thing. Alternatively pour yourself a glass of Gusbourne’s English Pinot Noir Twenty Twenty which is described as ‘mid youthful’. 

A little like my good self, then. I’m all fired up about Pinot Noir. Maybe I’ll plant a vineyard. This could be the glamorous life upgrade I’ve been searching for… 

Steady on. Although it’s true that average temperatures and weather conditions are likely to make for a good UK Pinot Noir grape harvest in coming years, that doesn’t mean every year will be a wine winner. 

Why not? 

British weather is unpredictable so you’ll have to watch out for early frosts and heavy-rainfall-induced, mildew-based disease. 

Mildew-based disease does not sound like the glamorous life upgrade I’ve been searching for… 

Sorry about that. 

Might just pop along to Majestic Wines for a ‘mix any six’ then… 

Probably best. 

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