London’s first sparkling wine for centuries – Forty Hall Brut 2013 – has just been launched, ready for Christmas. It has been produced from grapes grown at Forty Hall Farm’s community-run vineyard in Enfield and is a fresh milestone in the extraordinary success of sparkling wines in England, which now regularly win gold medals in international blind tastings against competition from Champagnes.
Forty Hall Vineyard is a social enterprise and subsidiary of Capel Manor College, which supports the project by providing ten acres of south-facing land and other resources for the vineyard at its Forty Hall Farm. It is believed to be the biggest vineyard in London at least since the Middle Ages.
Forty Hall’s achievement in producing sparkling wine in London has a special resonance because it is now accepted, even by the French, that what is called méthode traditionelle (making sparkling wine by secondary fermentation in a bottle) was actually invented in England as recorded by Christopher Merret in a paper presented in London to the Royal Society in 1662. Dom Perignon, often hailed as the inventor, came much later. In this sense Forty Hall Vineyard has a claim to be bringing classic sparkling wine back home to where it first started.
The wine is made by multi award-winning English wine maker, Will Davenport, and is expected to be of exceptional quality and to reflect the best of low-intervention, natural English winemaking. Made from organically grown Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay grapes – the three classic Champagne varieties – the wine will be ready to drink for Christmas and will continue to improve with ageing.
Forty Hall Vineyard not only aims to produce award-winning organic wines but also to support the health and wellbeing of local people by engaging them in active, outdoor volunteering – a chance to socialise with others and to benefit from fresh air and physical exercise in a beautiful, natural setting.
Stocks of the first release of Forty Hall Vineyard London Sparkling Brut are very limited and the wine is therefore not available for public sale. It was only available as part of a sponsorship offer which closed at the end of September this year. A second limited release of the 2014 vintage is expected late next year, and this is again being offered as part of a sponsorship package (available now). Following an excellent, high-yielding harvest from maturing vines this year, however, it is anticipated that the 2015 vintage Forty Hall Vineyard London Sparkling Brut will be available for sale to the public in autumn 2017.
To buy a sponsorship package visit http://fortyhallvineyard.com/sponsorship.html