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Can Suffolk really rival Bordeaux?

The Daily Telegraph reckons that global warming might advance the chances of England, or at least select bits of it, one day rivalling the wine producing prowess of France. Maybe. It has been rather hard to become convinced of the global warming thesis in what has been, by any standards, an exceptionally wet month of May. There is no doubt that a run of hot summers has got people thinking about the implications for agriculture. In my native Suffolk, there are a few quite famous wine producing farms, such as this one. The wine tends to be a bit too sharp for my taste, rather like the stuff produced in the Rhine area. (My favourite wine from the north European area is the very distinctive white wine from Alsace). Personally, I think the best booze in East Anglia is the cider, although it is very strong.

England produced quite a lot of wine in centuries past, when average temperatures were quite possibly hotter than now. The Romans produced a fair amount of the stuff (and no doubt their passion for baths and washing was partly driven by the desire to sweat away the subsequent hangovers). So maybe England could become a great wine producer again. Even so, it will have to go some way before it can rival the Lafites, Latours of Montrachets of France. Anyway, it is my 40th birthday today, so I may just have to find an excuse to do some tasting.

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19 comments to Can Suffolk really rival Bordeaux?

  • permanent expat

    World beating wines from Walla Walla, Washington at a Lat of 47º…………Suffolk 52º
    Lat. may not be too relevant but….why not.
    Bordeaux aren’t at the top by any means.

  • permanent expat

    Oh, ….and Happy Birthday Johnathan!

  • Recently california wines won a taste test against french wines. in france.


    California attained such expertise after only a couple decades of building experience and technique. So why not Suffolk?

    Oh, and a 40th birthday is not an occasion for ‘some tasting’. It is an occasion for drowning in the nearest vat of mash-product, wallowing in sorrow that you are not ruling your own country by now and waking up after the weekend with a terrible hangover, an unknown lady(ladies) in bed next to you, and a sales receipt for a new Lotus in your wallet.

    I know, that is what I went through. Er, except for the hangover, lady and Lotus. I missed those parts.

    Maybe I should do it again…

  • Nick M

    In Roman times, when it was warmer, they had vinyards in Yorkshire. Imagine that – it’s not exactly Tetley’s bitter.

    England already produces some very good wine and some Welsh whites are apparently excellent (if expensive). Alas, unless every man woman and child is issued with a Dodge Viper, the Scots will have to stick with whisky – which is fine by me.

    A “side-effect” of England being warm enough for heavy viniculture is that lots of France will be too hot for it. Despite my naturally Anglospheric desire to revel in any misfortune the French succumb to, I think that would be a shame.

    Despite tomWright’s recipe for a debauch, I doubt turning 40 should be that bad. I’m not dreading it. Certainly not after turning thirty… On the morning of my 30th birthday I was found by my girlfriend asleep in the living-room, naked, in a kneeling position, resting my head on the sofa. Naturally, I had no recollection of how this situation transpired.

    Happy Birthday Jonathan!


  • Nick M

    I have no idea where that “if” came from.

  • RAB

    You want to try 50.
    I was in bed with the Lotus
    and the lady was wheelclamped outside Annabel’s!

  • permanent expat

    50….? Getting that behind me was my best-ever career move!
    Forget (most) Bordeaux….all Loire, gloire & terroir.

  • permanent expat

    I apologise for the Loire inclusion…..It rhymed & sounded good ;-)

  • I thought global warming was going to shut down the Gulf Stream and freeze all of Western Europe and especially Britain.

  • Recently california wines won a taste test against french wines. in france.


    California attained such expertise after only a couple decades of building experience and technique.

    Bah. Typical new world wine bravado. (As a patriotic aside, Australia has contributed more regarding oenological and viticultural technology, in the pursuit of ensuring consistent quality of wine than any other wine-producing nation.) That’s not to say that the new world doesn’t have an enormous amount to offer the vast majority of consumers – in fact, overall these people are far better served by the new world producers. However, when the weather is clement, the vigneron is sympathetic and the stars align…we are reminded that when the French are on their game, they absolutely make the best wine in the world. No question about that.

    Consistency is where the over-regulated French model suffers, and nearly all consumers demand it these days.

  • And the ones that don’t are those who can afford to buy the renouned back vintages.

  • Or even “renowned”.

  • permanent expat

    The saying goes that there’s no bad Portuguese wine ( an economy of the truth!) but that there is no outstanding offering. By and large, Portuguese wine is eminently drinkable and I am informed that Aussie oenology whizkids are busy here doing their stuff. Can’t be bad! Antipodean wine is among the best.

  • Johnathan

    I should also mention that Suffolk produces some wonderful beer, of which Adnams, of the Southwold coastal town, is probably the best. They do one line known as “Broadside”, and it will brighten the darkest day.

  • Enola Gay

    England has real potential in sparkling wine – some of the southern counties share the same soil used in Champagne and, while more variable, in good years share a similar climate. There have been some excellent sparkling wines produced in southern england in recent years and this should continue.

    Red wine? forget it. The consistent sunlight necessary for the different grape varieties just isn’t there. I’d say the same applies to whites, but then again there are prospects for some chablis style wines, once again in the southern counties.

    I would always try a wine produced in England, however, as the people are very innovative, knowledgeable and willing to give it a shot. The beer is fantastic.

    And I’m an Aussie.

  • Alice

    Happy Birthday Johnathan ! I can’t help feeling proud about something I took no part in: French wines. I even took wine-tasting classes this year because I realised that I knew little about my own culture. By the way, “Latour” without an “s” in a family name, (louislatour.com, in English). As you know, in France the bottles are labelled by their AOC Appelation d’Origine Contrôlée rather than with the grape specie. Thanks for mentioning Chassagne–Montrachet, I like it.

    I’m very glad that various countries are increasing their production of wine. Because else, French wines would first become too expensive, make beer even more popular (it contains addictive molecules), and later disappear like caviar (although in that case, there are no bandits to kill the females).

    The quality supply of wine will create the demand. This international competition will save French wines and French students from mixtures based on whisky or vodka. You should have seen the so-French young crowd that was at the last wine exhibition in Paris, (200 producers, Porte de Champerret). French producers are replanting better species to face this international competition. Good producers are not afraid because they think foreign wines are not “vins de garde” (wine that keeps maturing in a cellar) yet.
    What is more, I enjoy tasting foreign wines. And I hope to drink English sparkling wine soon.

    I’m drinking a Sicilian cabernet “Sallier de La Tour” (the founder of the vineyard was French), 2002.

    In that case, globalisation can’t force standardisation on us.

  • Andrew Duffin

    “…the best booze in East Anglia is the cider…”

    Jonathan how could you. And you a native of Suffolk, or so you claim.

    The best booze in East Anglia is of course Adnams beer.

    Maybe you’re a WestCountry impostor.

  • guy herbert

    Nor should Greene King of Bury St Edmunds be neglected.

  • Johnathan

    Andrew, I mentioned Adnams in my earlier comment. I come from about 10 miles due east of where the stuff is made, so put that one down your neck!!!!