Sparkling Winemaker of the Year
Cherie Spriggs, Chief winemaker at Nyetimber, won the coveted accolade of Sparkling Winemaker of the Year this month. It’s the first time the highly-regarded International Wine Challenge has awarded this honour to a winemaker outside of Champagne. Big deal? Of course it is. It’s David and Goliath except there’ll be no throwing of stones. This is a story of the quiet grace of Sussex ending Champagne’s reign.
Henry VIII, Thomas Cromwell and Anne of Cleves
The 1000 year old Nyetimber estate is first named in the Domesday Book of 1086. Henry VIII, no less, obtained it through the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536. It was passed on to his minister Thomas Cromwell and then on to the King’s fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, as part of the annulment settlement of their unconsummated marriage.
The end of Champagne’s reign
Very few places in the world, outside Champagne, have the treasured conditions required for producing fine sparkling wine. Eric Heerema, present day owner and chief executive of Nyetimber, recognised them in his estate and was convinced that English sparkling wine had a future. With the unparalleled expertise of Chief winemaker, Cherie Spriggs, the first batch of the holy trinity of grapes, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, were planted in the chalky soils of West Sussex.
Today the vineyard produces four sparkling wines; Classic Cuvee, Demi-Sec, Rosé Multi-Vintage and Blanc de Blancs. With the refined elegance of its expertise, passion and pioneering approach Nytimber has gently won over the connoisseurs. Its sparkling wines continue to be awarded for their elegance and refinement and its undisputed supremacy sealed with the accolade bestowed upon Cherie Spriggs. 25 years in the making of a 1000 year old estate.
It’s fitting then that Michelin-starred Angler Restaurant at South Place Hotel will celebrate the ascendancy of English sparkling wine. The roof terrace at the hotel has been transformed in to a celebration of English summer. From now until 16th September it will serve a special menu of Nyetimber sparkling wines exquisitely paired with light bites by Michelin-starred Executive Chef Gary Foulkes. It’s a stylish combination which adds more than a sparkle to London’s rooftops. Rabbit and chorizo rice balls, crispy Cornish squid and Giaraffa Sicilian olives can be ordered with Classic Cuvee, Demi-Sec MV, Rosé MV or Blanc de Blancs 2010. It’s a dignified, noble celebration of a product of England; the likes of which have never before been seen in the history of winemaking. A shattered glass ceiling has never looked so good.
South Place Hotel is located at 3 South Place London EC2M 2AF. For more information visit: www.southplacehotel.com