French celebrity chef Raymond Blanc OBE has got behind English sparkling wine, dubbing it “a serious contender for the world’s best sparking wine.” Speaking at the launch of Brasserie Blanc in Covent Garden, Blanc told the drinks business how the recent leap in quality of English sparking wine could pose a threat to Champagne.
“I visited Camel Valley in Cornwall six months ago and was really impressed, they are making some seriously good sparkling wines and winning a lot of gold medals in the top international competitions. The climate in England is still not quite right yet, and I’ve yet to taste a good Pinot Noir or Merlot from England, but it will come. England is reconnecting with its land – there’s a curiosity there. It’s a young country in terms of winemaking, but it’s steadily building its reputation – it’s exciting,” he said.
English sparkling wine took centre stage on BBC TV show The Apprentice last week, where contestants were tasked with creating an online advert and website championing English fizz. Shortly after the programme screened on Wednesday night, English Sparkling Wine was trending worldwide on social media site Twitter as a result.
In terms of Michelin stars, Blanc, the chef patron and part owner of two Michelin-starred country house hotel Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxford says he’s never been bothered about them. He said: “I’m not mercenary, I don’t work for stars or ratings, I work for excellence. A star is simply a by-product of the quality, service and consistency you’re giving to your guests every day. Being the best and number one has never been my motivation, there’s more to life.”
Blanc also revealed that he will be opening up his loos to the public during the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee weekend. “We’re having a big street party down my road in Oxford and I’ve been asked to provide all the patisserie. I’ll also be opening up my loos to the public as they’re big,” he joked.
Blanc is keen to push wines from small vignerons in South West France in his Brasserie Blanc chain. “Everyone associates Provence with rosé, but there are some excellent Cru Classé reds coming out of the region, which I’m keen to promote. I also want to promote my region – Franche-Comté, so will be pushing Vin Jaune from Jura,” he said.