English Fizz Nabs One of Decanter’s Highest-Ever Sparkling Scores
Qualitatively speaking, England’s sparkling wines are on fire. A Food & Wine headline recently declared: “England’s Sparkling Wines Can Now Rival Champagne.” But F&W isn’t the only publication covering its pages with English buzz—the New York Times and Wall Street Journal have both heaped praise on the traditional-method sparklers, with Eric Asimov of the Times calling England’s bubbly output, “superb.”
Digby’s NV Fine English Brut took a whopping 97 points from Decanter—only a handful of sparkling wines have ever scored higher, putting it in the company of legends like the 2002 Krug Clos de Mesnil and the 2008 Roederer Cristal. While prices for such bottles reach astronomical heights, today’s NV Digby release—the highest-scoring British sparkling wine ever in Decanter’s storied pages—weighs in at a remarkable $39.99 on cases. Infused with chalky minerality and a seductive aromatic bouquet of baked apples and brown spice, and boasting a creamy, brioche-like finish, this is easily one of the top sparkling values in the world. Digby is at the forefront of England’s massively successful sparkling scene, clinching impressive honors as the official wine of the decorated Leander Club in the Queen’s annual Royal Regatta.
UK sparklers are making sommeliers and critics swoon worldwide, but production simply can’t keep pace— even as British vintners hone their craft and expand vineyards across the region’s chalky soils. Today’s offer is a chance to get in on the trend before these bottles disappear. Unlike other upstart sparkling houses, quality remains at the forefront of Digby since the climate in Southern England mirrors that of its French counterpart. The chalky soils that exist in Champagne run north and travel under the English Channel, popping up at the ‘white cliffs of Dover,’ infusing wines with a fresh, pure minerality.
The result is sparklers with “spirited, glowing acidity and an orchard-fruit freshness,” according to Asimov. In a blind tasting (which included influential critics Neal Martin and Jancis Robinson) of English sparkling wines and grower Champagnes, the Sceptered Isle tallied the highest group score.
Digby, like other classic producers, has embraced the NV bottling as a way to blend reserve wines into a complex cuvée that can consistently represent the house style. Digby’s version is 40% aromatic Pinot Noir, plus 35% aged Chardonnay and 25% vibrant Pinot Meunier. Fruit hails from vineyards in Sussex, Hampshire, and Kent Downs, comprising sandy, chalky, and clay soils. Primary fermentation occurred mainly in stainless steel, preserving freshness, and partially in seasoned French barriques. The result is a beautifully mineral, crisp bubbly that is quintessential English fizz at its best, and a bloody good value to boot.