Best of British could be better

04 May, 2007

The quality of English wine must improve if it is to remain competitive, according to Waitrose's wine buying manager Justin Howard-Sneyd.

Speaking at the retailer's recent tasting, Howard said that while it had seen a sales rise of 35 per cent over the past year, quality needed to improve so it could compete with similarly priced wines from other countries.

Waitrose holds 25 per cent of the market share for English wine and has added a further 15 lines to its range this year, bringing the total to 30.

He said: "We do some fantastically good sparkling wines, but perhaps we don't get the same value for money with English table wine which people sell for £7.99 or £8.99.

"However, compared with a £20 Champagne, English sparkling wine can match it price for price and quality for quality." Three English sparkling wines from Ridgeview and Nyetimber are being included in Waitrose's Summer Fizz Showcase.

The supermarket will be offering promotions on Champagne and sparkling wine from June 4 to July 3.

Speaking at English Wine Producers' recent tasting, Chapel Down sales director Guy Tresnan said: "Three or four years ago price was an issue, but now people - patriots, epicures, those wanting to source wine locally and 'wine grazers' - will pay a premium for English wines." Threshers is planning to list a selection.

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English wine: a happy harvest for Christmas

All across England and Wales, vineyards are being harvested. Down winding country lanes come armies of welly-wearing conscripts wielding secateurs and buckets, ready to reap the rewards of our vines. Happily they come, their cheeks ruddy with pride. Half an hour later they’re crawling over muddy clods with lacerated hands, drenched in claggy juice and cold sweat, as if ploughing through an endurance race.

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