The intensely anticipated royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle is just weeks away, and it looks the wine being poured at the big event may be from a region most people didn’t even know made wine.
While touring the region on a royal-wedding-theme press tour arranged by Visit Britain, this author learned that the royal wedding will likely offer bottles from Chapel Down, in England’s sparkling wine region. It’s a wine with royal history too: Its Rosé Brut was poured at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding and a sparkling wine from Chapel Down was also served at the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.
“If we are present, it will be amazing,” says Chapel Down managing director of wines and spirits Mark Harvey, who played it rather coy when speaking to The Feast. But he alluded that the deal is just about sealed. “Strong rumor has it that Chapel Down will be at the wedding. I’d like to get a Royal Warrant one day so..." he'd have to stop short of officially confirming, he said.
A Royal Warrant is a mark of honor to companies who have supplied goods or services to HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh or HRH The Prince of Wales or their households. Companies ranging from Fortnum & Mason to Floris London (which made the scent worn by Queen Victoria) hold these warrants.
As Harry and Meghan are attempting to support British industry with this wedding — their cake will come from a small bakery in London — pouring wine from the little-known and relatively young English sparkling wine region would be a nice touch.
“The first vines in England under this present industry were planted 40 years ago at Tentford where the winery is at Chapel Down,” says Harvey. “We’re in a pretty marginal climate [but] it’s getting a little bit better now." (England, of course, is famously grey.)
“What’s happened in the last 15 to 20 years is a few producers — and Chapel Down right at the front of that and is the largest within the small industry — recognized and had the insight, determination, and ambition,” says Harvey. The basic idea is that the growing conditions that exist in the southeast of England are very similar to those of Champagne in the northeast of France.
“It’s a combination of both the climatic conditions and the soil type. Thank goodness a number of producers have recognized that fact, have been brave, have planted more and more, grubbed up that early German stuff, and planted more and more of the classic Champagne grape varieties. The Champagne varieties are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier,” says Harvey.
“Where we are today — it’s enormously exciting —there’s a cheeky blind taster in Paris of a lineup of champagnes alongside English sparkling wines. English sparkling wines show really well. They sometimes beat the Champagne brands,” says Harvey.
Harvey wouldn't say whether the wine, should it be served at the wedding, would be still or sparkling.
But something tells us that if this is the wine served at the royal wedding, the English-sparkling wine region will instantly grow a whole lot of popularity in the global market. It's already available for sale at some spots in the U.S., should we be looking for some wine to pop for our own royal wedding viewing parties on May 19.
Photos: Chapel Down
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