In a nutshell: A racy, zesty and rich English Sparkling wines made with a less seen grape variety.
The lowdown: Seyval Blanc is not a very well known grape variety, but it's long been grown widely in English vineyards and while not as prestigious as the 'Champagne' varieties it's certainly worth a look at. Indeed in a FT Weekend article Jancis Robinson described Seyval Blanc as being amongst her favourite English sparkling wines. Aged for a minimum of 12 -15 months on its lees it has had a further 2 years bottle age giving it a mellow, rounded and mature feel. It has a lovely pale gold colour in the glass with a lively mousse and an exuberantly floral nose with hints of an English rose garden and freshly buttered toast. On the palate there is good stone-fruit intensity with soft honeyed notes followed by good length. There really is a lot going on here.
When to drink: A terrific aperitif and just made to go with creamy fruit desserts.
Not far from the southern end of the heritage steam railway of the same name, near Sheffield Park in East Sussex sit Bluebell Vineyard Estates one of the growing number of premium English Sparkling Wine producers.
Established in 2005 on the site of a former pig farm they now have more than 25 hectares of vines, a mix of Chardonnay, Pinots Noir and Meunier and a small amount of Seyval Blanc, straddling the East and West Sussex county boundary.
Since their first release in 2007 their wines have garnered critical acclaim and prizes at several prestigious wine competitions.