A visit to Denbies English Sparkling Wine

2nd August 2017

Gallery Restaurant

I have been travelling a fair bit recently to some splendid sparkling wine regions of the world so it was nice to have a few invitations come through from wineries much closer to home. English Sparkling Wine has been making a great impact in recent years with an increase in sales, new wineries opening, international awards and all round improving qualities.

I was pleased to be taken on a tour of the winery by Christopher White, general manager of Denbies, where we viewed by car some of the 100 plus hectares of vines where they are growing 15 different grape varieties. I never expected Denbies to be such a big operation I must admit, my only ever previous direct encounters with them was always at wine tasting events where I assumed they were just one of the smaller growers. Denbies is more or a less an entire village with 150 members of staff sat in the middle of plush green fields full of vines and forests where you can not only visit to tour the vineyards via the 7 miles of footpaths over its near 250 hectare estate and then taste the wines, you can also eat, exhibit, have a wedding reception, stay over night and more.

What is impressive with the sales at Denbies is that 55% of its wine sales are to a local market from visitors to their winery to supplying local venues. A neat and tidy operation that gives its business strong revenue security from wine sales to venue hire. It is not one of the names everybody will recognise compared to one or two of the English Sparkling Wines that many of us will know the names of, Denbies with its majority local sales keeps the name low key, though they do hold contracts to supply nationally to include being the bubbly used by Sainsburys for their own label English Sparkling Wine and you can also find their wines at Waitrose.

Denbies is certainly a whole day out experience and certainly worth a visit for any English wine enthusiast and I do recommend you enjoy lunch or dinner at their Gallery Restaurant that offers panoramic views over the estate thanks to being located on the third floor of the main visitor centre. You can enjoy a 50-minute vineyard tour on the Denbies train, cheese making and wine tasting or during harvest take part in the grape picking.

From fine foods to now their fine wines, which Denbies offers a great selection of. With its vast amounts of vineyards and grape varieties, there is plenty of chance to experiment and come up with unique tastes and flavours. I was pleased to taste through their sparkling wine range to include being one of the first people from the world of press to taste their Cubitt 2013 Blanc de Blancs and Blanc de Noir. They are a range that is perfect to introduce you to English Sparkling Wine in my mind from their WhiteDowns Brut up to their Cubitt – Myself I really do enjoy their Greenfields as it expresses so many flavours and has the toasty / brioche notes that many fine Champagne would offer.

Christopher Walkey

Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.