Pocket size English sparklers!

Our increasingly popular English sparkling wines are now available in half bottles.

Denbies half bottles
Denbies half bottles

Well some of them at least. Pocket size, although you may need rather large pockets.

A sign of a maturing wine industry?

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Perhaps. As wine industries develop, so does diversity within the industry.

The English sparkling wine industry, though increasing rapidly and achieving spectacular success, is still a fledgling industry, when compared with others in Europe, or around the world.

Initially, wine producers do everything. They own vineyards for growing the grapes, have a winery for making the wine and have premises for maturing and storing the wine prior to eventual sale.

Such were, and still are, the pioneers such as Ridgeview in Ditchling and Nyetimber near Pulborough. In a maturing market, this becomes more diversified.

Grape growers appear, who own vineyards, but do not make the wine, rather sending the grapes to another winery for production, using their equipment and expertise.

Then there are wine producers, who own no vineyards at all, buying in the grapes from growers in different locations and employing an expert winemaker to produce the wine. This is the model used by Digby Fine English, based in Arundel, and is based on a system used by many champagne houses. It allows for greater flexibility, diversity, and consistency.

Another sign of a maturing market and industry for sparkling wine, is the production of Non-vintage wines.

These are produced from a blend of base wines from different vintages, using not just the current year’s production, but blending in ‘reserve’ wines from previous years.

Again, this system can create greater consistency of flavour. Initially, these wines cannot be made by a producer, since there are no reserve wines available.

A further sign of diversity is the production of different sized bottles and this trend is growing for English sparkling wine. Nyetimber produces halves, as does Exton Park.

One of the latest is Denbies vineyard near Dorking. A long-established English wine producer of both still and sparkling wines, Denbies has recently released its Sparkling Bacchus in a half bottle size, to join the already existing halves of Whitedowns Brut. Made by the traditional method, the sparkling

Bacchus is a new wine for Denbies, only released last year, and the half bottles now add to the range.

Made from grapes of the 2016 harvest, the style is overtly fruity, with a clean, pure flavour and aromas of elderflower, lavender and fresh brioche, resulting from 18 months maturing on the lees.

With a crisp dry finish, this easy drinking wine is perfect for picnics for two, or enjoyment at home, when you just need a glass or two of something special.

Very reasonably priced, bottles are at £16.95 and the new halves at £8.95.

The Denbies Sparkling Bacchus is claimed to be the first in the UK made by the traditional method, the same method as champagne.

The winemakers have been striving to achieve the correct balance of fruit, flavour and acidity in the wine and the results were released on the market last year.

Initial production was small, but the company intends to continue production and keep it permanently in the wine range, as initial indications show great popularity with consumers.

Half the size, twice the pleasure, as the saying goes. Although you may want to buy two at a time!

Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Follow him on Twitter @richardwje.