Norwich's answer to Champagne? Sparkling plonk created in Fine City
- Credit: Brittany Woodman
One of Norwich's oldest drinks brands has branched out into sparkling wine, using grapes grown in the heart of Norfolk.
Bullards Spirits' latest venture uses Seyval Blanc, Pinot Noir and Auxerrois grapes from the Tipsy Anchor vineyard in Spooner Row.
The £40 English Sparkling Rosé 2009 vintage is made using the traditional method through secondary fermentation in the bottle – identical to the process of making Champagne in France.
Former chairman of the English Vineyard Association Roger Marchbank described the limited edition fizz as having "fruity notes of strawberry and raspberry sorbet, mixed with a nice acidity".
Bullards business development director Joe Evans said: "Our small vineyard in Spooner Row is a bit of a well-kept secret but it has been producing top-quality grapes for many years now.
"Up until now we have sold the grapes to other wineries but we decided to hold back some of the wonderful 2009 vintage and make our own sparkling wine from it.
"With the help of the award-winning Wiston Estate Winery in West Sussex we have created a stunning rosé traditional method Norfolk fizz. And we are very proud to add it to the Bullards brand offering."
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The grapes are grown at the two-and-a-half acre vineyard by viticulturalist Michael McAully. The fruit is subject to a pneumatic pressing combined with a short maceration on the skins to extract the pink colour.
Once the initial fermentation is complete the wine is subject to secondary fermentation in the bottle. This ensures the maximum aromas and finesse for the wine.
The bubbly is exclusively available at its Chantry Place store. It will be rolled out across its other locations, including its new London stores, in due course.
The venture comes as the company pulled its gin-making stills from its city centre distillery in the historic Crystal House, Cattle Market Street, to a purpose-built unit in Smallburgh, 13 miles outside of Norwich.
Managing director Russell Evans said of his expanding business: "We're getting bigger and it was getting to the point where it was not practical to make product at Crystal House any longer."
What makes Champagne special?
The general rule of thumb is that all Champagne is sparkling wine but not all sparkling wine is Champagne.
Sparkling wine can only be called Champagne if it comes from the Champagne region of France, just outside of Paris.
All sparkling wines made in Champagne are governed by strict regulations. Only certain grapes and production processes are allowed.
Champagne can only be made using Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes.
There are specific, complex and labour-intensive vineyard practises that must be followed for a sparkling wine to be labelled as Champagne - which is why Champagne can be rather expensive.
The most commonly used method is méthode traditionnelle - or traditional method, which involves two separate rounds of fermentation. The first takes place in a tank or barrel and a second in the bottle itself.
The in-bottle fermentation gives the wine characteristically fine, persistent bubbles.