If English Sparkling Wine Producers Were (mostly British) Bands

Glass of Nyetimber, Mick?

Forget BritPop and leave the Champagne Supernovae with Oasis - English Sparkling Wine is starting to create a few classics. We hear all about the rock stars with their pet vineyards, but what if it was the other way around? What if the secateurs and hydrometers were replaced with Telecasters, drumsticks and big hair?


Nyetimber = Fleetwood Mac

It's easy to forget that mainstream success often eluded (100% British) Fleetwood Mac until they crossed the Atlantic to join forces with Lindsay Buckingham and Stevie Nicks - most of the music we still know and love today is from this post-1975 era. Are husband and wife team Cherie Spriggs and Brad Greatrix the Buckingham/Nicks of English Sparkling Wine?

OK, OK - they are of course Canadian, married and (like the rest of us) unlikely to take relationship advice from any of the members of Fleetwood Mac. Perhaps it's a better fit to consider that the American Continent also gave us founders Stuart and Sandy Moss from Chicago: a reminder that Nyetimber have gone their own way with some truly international help.

To drink - A Glass of Blanc De Blancs 2010 with "Go Your Own Way" from Rumours 

Ridgeview = The Beatles

This was an easy one. There's an amazing consistency at the heart of Ridgeview - the Roberts have kept things incredibly tight since the mid 1990s, never losing the family feeling in the same way that the Fab Four never let us forget that they were just a bunch of lads from Liverpool. With phenomenal success and competition from a new generation of producers comes a relentless pressure to keep things fresh - was the re-organisation of the portfolio and rebrand in 2018 Ridgeview's White Album moment?

To drink - Keep it classic with a glass of Bloomsbury NV and "Eleanor Rigby" from Revolver 

Hattingley Valley = David Bowie

Some of the finest wines being made in England at the moment are coming out of Hattingley's doors. For all the pomp and splendour required to play the part of a headline Sparkling Wine producer, there's also a very British playfulness to Hattingley - see this (brilliant!) recent piece of marketing featuring owner Simon Robinson and head winemaker Emma Rice. Ziggy would fit right in. 

Beyond that, Hattingley and the team are tireless collaborators. With that in mind (sorry, couldn't resist):

To Drink - Hattingley Valley Rosé 2014 with "Under Pressure" by David Bowie and Queen
(see this interesting article for an interview with Emma Rice discussing, amongst other things, pressure...)

Gusbourne = Pink Floyd

There's something very serious about Gusbourne, and the results are as expressive as a David Gilmour guitar solo. If you've ever seen the maps on the wall at Gusbourne that show the kaleidoscopic rootstock/clone combinations that grace the vineyards you'll appreciate the sort of fastidiousness that led The Floyd to pioneer the use of 16-track recording on Dark Side Of The Moon, allowing the band to layer sounds in a single song in ways that few had ever attempted.

To drink - Gusbourne Blanc De Blancs 2013 with 'Shine On, You Crazy Diamond' from Wish You Were Here

Shine on...Gusbourne Blanc De Blancs 2013

Wiston = The Smiths 

There's something both very modern and reassuringly old-school about Wiston; you don't go to the lengths of bringing in the country's first traditional Coquard press from Champagne without a streak of romanticism in your blood. Behind the pristine, pretty labels there are wines with individual stories to tell, full of vintage character. Of course, it helps to have a great front man; you can't think of the Smiths without Morrissey, and you can't think about Wiston without Dermot Sugrue.

To Drink - Wiston Estate Cuvée Brut 2009 with the single "This Charming Man"

Chapel Down = Led Zeppelin

Chapel Down is an institution; many of the leading figures in the industry have been intimately involved in the shifting forms this hugely important producer has taken over the years. In 1977, the year of Led Zeppelin's fateful last tour, Stephen Skelton MW founded the original Tenterden vineyard. If Skelton is the Robert Plant of English Sparkling Wine (Plant is leading a hugely-successful touring band at the moment whilst Skelton is the go-to man for Champagne Taittinger in Kent), Owen Elias is surely the Jimmy Page, making big noises at Hush Heath after his 10 years at Chapel Down.

Chapel Down today is a different beast, embarking on an ambitious expansion.

To Drink - Kit's Coty Blanc De Blancs 2013 with "Since I've Been Loving You" from Led Zeppelin III


Some other notable matches:


Hambledon = The Rolling Stones. Fuelled on a dangerous amount of the white stuff (chalk)

Breaky Bottom = John Martyn. Songs that transcend fashion and stand the test of time.

Black Chalk = Eric Clapton. Jacob Leadley has made a brilliant start to his solo career post-Cream.

Fox & Fox = Kate Bush. It just works.

Camel Valley = Iron Maiden. It's a little-known fact that lead singer Bruce Dickinson is an airline pilot - he once flew the band on a tour in a Boeing 757. Whether I can persuade Bob Lindo to deliver me a case of Rosé in a Vulcan is another question.


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