French champagne grapes are under threat. Changes in climate are shortening the growing season as temperatures now rise earlier and faster in the year than they have in the past. This is resulting in bigger and boozier grapes lacking the ideal balance between acidity and sweetness characterising premium Champagne. Earlier harvests are also heightening exposure to volatile weather conditions--one cold snap can be all it takes to wipe out a year’s harvest and revenues.
But what about Champagne’s cross-channel rival, English Sparkling? It turns out these very same changes in climate are largely benefitting England’s grapevines. Kent, with its chalky soils and increasingly mild temperatures, is now being compared to the Champagne region of the 1970s. This has not only led to increased production and improved quality, but also to the expansion of wine production into new terrains. It has even attracted Champagne houses, such as as Taittinger, to diversify production into the UK. How long Britain can hold on to increasingly ideal growing conditions remains to be seen, but for now, let’s raise our glasses to the past tradition of French Champagne and England’s present stronghold in sparkling.
Serves approximately 8-10 people
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