Hampshire winemakers celebrate victory over Sussex in the 2016 “Vineyard Olympics”. Events included tug of war and tossing the end post
marketing behind them, although they’re very good quality.
“A lot of people are buying because of the locality,” Lockyer
continues. “I do have some wines from Wiltshire and Devon, [but]
they want the local one from round the corner – they want to drink something very local, or take it as a gift to someone to show them something local.”
The latter is especially true of still wines, of which Fareham has examples from nearby Tichfield Vineyard as well as Lyme Bay in
Devon. “The still wines haven’t been caught up in the excitement of sparkling wines,” Lockyer says. “There is a market for them,
but I haven’t worked it out. I’m not sure people are buying it for themselves; with sparkling people definitely are.”
For Lockyer, English sparkling wine is now effectively his
entry-point fizz, with Fareham having taken the decision not to compete with the supermarkets at lower prices. “We basically
don’t sell things like Prosecco or Cava, because the supermarkets have screwed that up for everyone. We’ve done away with most
sparkling under £20, we’ve only go a Moscato d’Asti, which is good! [Customers] are not coming to us for cheap sparkling, so we don’t have it.”
There is occasionally some resistance on price. “The cheapest
English sparkling is £25, and sometimes people don’t understand why it should be the same price as Champagne,” Lockyer says.
“Again, it’s undermined by the supermarkets selling Champagne
White has similar views. “The biggest block of all can still be
the prices. If they’re paying £20 for England, and I know there’s
something better on the shelf at that price, then it’s unfair of me [to push it].
“But if we do a special evening, which we do sometimes on a
steam train, the Pinot Noir from Winbirri, tasted blind, is usually
mistaken for a Burgundy. It’s only 20 minutes down the road, and, as prices [of other wines] have drifted up, £12.95 is not too far
away from that sweet spot for a gift. When you explain they only
have eight acres it starts to make sense. There’s the quirky reveal, and they think they’ll have one or two of those. “
For Christine Donovan at Camber Wines in Portsmouth,
however, price is increasingly less of an issue, for both still and sparkling. Camber Wines has a pair of producers representing each category (Nyetimber and Hambledon for fizz, and Lyme
Bay and Stopham Estate for still), all of which, Donovan says, are regular features in in-store tastings. “We use it a lot for our wine tastings to let people know and get people informed,” Donovan
says. “People have started to shop local more, and the wines are getting more affordable, so it’s not too off-putting.
“People get a bit daunted by the first thought of an English still
wine, but when they try it they think it has the quality to compete
with the classic styles,” Donovan adds, before capturing in nutshell the journey that English sparkling wine has taken in the past five years.
“If you explain that you can get a similar thing to Champagne but
from their own country, they think: that’s great. Why not?”
THE WINE MERCHANT MARCH 2018 45
The Wine Merchant issue 67