Drinks Nov / Dec 2020

English fizz

Louis Pommery adds sparkle to the BBA

The chalky soil of Hampshire, with similarities to that of France’s Champagne region, has been drawing the attention of sparkling wine producers in recent years. Vranken-Pommery Monopole turned its eyes to the area in 2016 when the firm partnered with the award-winning Hattingley Valley Wines.

The collaboration bore fruit in February 2018 with the release of Vranken-Pommery’s first English sparkling wine, Louis Pommery England Brut, which is made using the traditional method with no oak. Named in honour of Pommery’s founder, it is a blend of Chardonnay (55%), Pinot Noir (37%) and Pinot Meunier (8%).

It was the first time an English wine had been sold by a French Champagne house, and was the start of bigger plans for Vranken-Pommery.

“We are moving forward more independently, with 20ha of vineyard in Hampshire, at Pinglestone Estate,” Vranken Pommery Japan Co., Ltd. Asia–Pacific Export Director Ken Moroi told ACUMEN. “The first harvest was this year”.

Vranken-Pommery was the first Champagne house to plant vines in the UK and will be producing sparkling wines at its Pinglestone Estate vineyard—where it is growing Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier—in the coming years.

Inspired by BBA

To keep the annual British Business Awards (BBA) going amid the coronavirus pandemic, the British Chamber of Commerce in Japan had to innovate and turned to a fully virtual format. That drive and dedication is one reason Vranken-Pommery chose to sponsor the event, even though there would be no in-person gathering with sparkling wine bringing excitement to the dozens or tables that normally dot the ballroom.

“Mr. Louis Pommery was a pioneer when he established the Champagne Pommery brand back in 1836, in Champagne, Reims. We believe that new launches should be linked with dynamic entrepreneurs,” Moroi said, referring to the release of Louis Pommery England Brut.

The firm donated a bottle of the critically acclaimed sparkling wine to each of this year’s 37 BBA nominees.

Asked about the outlook for 2021, he said: “English wines and sparkling, in Japan, are still on the path where customers need education to understand more deeply what it is about. I see good opportunities for English sparkling to surf on the rather high maturity of the Champagne market and the establishment of the well-known British brands, and to improve its market share”.

Photo: Custom Media

Flavourful winter

The BBA also marks the crisp days of autumn and the approach of winter each year, and seasonal foods are top of mind for many. While gatherings may not be on the menu this year, treating yourself to delicious meals and drink is a great way to keep your spirits, focus and drive high during this time of social distancing.

Moroi shared a few ideas for doing just that.

“Louis Pommery England Brut is elegant, yet delivers notes of berries and hazelnuts,” he said. “I see it well paired with sautéed scallops, a foie gras mousse or mushroom tempura”.