Sussex sparkling wines to the fore in Arundel Festival

Sparkling wines at Arundel Festival
Sparkling wines at Arundel Festival

As we bask in a long awaited hot English summer, August with the renowned Arundel Festival is just around the corner.

The long, hot, dry spell of weather, which transforms this country and seems to make everyone happier, despite the recent football results, looks set to continue.

Normally, when the schools finish for the holidays, we can be sure of cool, wet, cloudy weather, but not in 2018, it seems. Vineyard owners across the county are counting their blessings, as currently we head towards one of the greatest harvests for English wines ever.

Southern England, and particularly Sussex, is fast becoming one of the World’s new Fine Wine regions and the weather this year will undoubtedly give a great boost for the wine producers. Very little frost in the winter, substantial rainfall to replenish the underground reserves and ideal warm, dry weather for flowering, have combined to heap favours on the ever-increasing rows of Sussex grapevines.

Sparkling wines from Sussex continue to be awarded Gold and Silver medals in international competitions, where they compete directly with some of the best in the world, recognition of the very high quality of these wines.

A good enough reason, therefore, to showcase them in some of the wine events as part of the 40th Arundel Festival, which takes place next month.

Organised on behalf of the rapidly growing Arundel Wine Society, whose president is Gerard Basset OBE MW and has the patronage of Her Grace the Duchess of Norfolk, the first wine event is a tour of four Sussex vineyards and wineries by minibus, starting and finishing in the centre of Arundel.

Among the four wine estates to be visited is Ridgeview near Ditchling, where lunch will be served after a tour of the vineyards and winery, followed by a comprehensive tasting.

The tour will end at Albourne Estate with a cream tea, accompanied of course, by a glass of sparkling Sussex. Albourne is unusual in that it produces a Vermouth, as well as its range of top quality still and sparkling wines. It is hoped that those on the tour will be able to sample this innovative product, which I highly recommend.

Places are limited, but for details and bookings see the Arundel Festival brochure online.

The second event featuring the Sparkling Wines of Sussex is a Masterclass on Friday, August 24. Held in the Ballroom of the Norfolk Arms Hotel in Arundel, an in-depth presentation of Sussex wines will be given, followed by a comparative tasting of six different wines, showcasing the different styles which are produced.

Tickets are £25 each available from Larkins in Tarrant Street, Arundel or by contacting Arundel Wine Society.

Other wine events will take place during the Festival, including a detailed look at ‘real’ sherry with a Masterclass on Thursday, August 23, also in the Norfolk Arms, and the now infamous Restaurant Trail.

This is a four-course meal, with each course in a different restaurant in Arundel and each course being paired with a wine which has been carefully matched. The wine pairings will be fully described and commented. Run on two consecutive evenings, the events sell-out very rapidly. The first evening on Tuesday, August 21, is already sold out, but if you are quick, there may still be places for the second sitting on Wednesday, August 22.

Details of all these events can be found in the on-line brochure or the printed edition available in Arundel, together with a whole host of other events, music, plays and exhibitions.

The award-winning Arundel Festival is very special and well worth a visit during its 40th year.

Richard Esling BSc DipWSET is an experienced wine consultant, agent, writer and educator. An erstwhile wine importer, he runs a wine agency and consultancy company called WineWyse, is founder and principal of the Sussex Wine Academy, chairman of Arundel Wine Society and is an International Wine Judge. Twitter @richardwje. Visit www.winewyse.com.

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