Jonathan Ray

Help us to celebrate English Wine Week

Help us to celebrate English Wine Week
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English Wine Week, that annual celebration of our native wines and winemakers which runs from 20 to 28 June, is almost upon us. And with some 2,500 hectares under vine in England and Wales, spread across more than 700 vineyards, and with 160 or so commercial wineries producing some remarkable wines, our winemaking industry would appear to have much to celebrate. Our sparklers in particular are now generally agreed to be as fine as any in the world.

However, with restaurants, bars, pubs and hotels currently closed, there are far fewer opportunities for wine producers to get their wares under our noses and they have never needed our support more. We need to get drinking!

I recently had occasion to tweak the tail of my old friend George Atkinson-Clark of the Milton Keynes Wine School when he hosted a comparative tasting of prosecco and champagne. I upbraided him for not including English fizz with the following rather inept limericks:

My dear Mr Atkinson-Clark,

A tasting of fizz? What a lark!

Although we love champers

In picnicking hampers,

I fear that you’re wide of the mark.

Champagne, prosecco and so on

Will always continue to flow on,

But the fact of it is,

English fizz is the bizz

And what those in the know want to go on.

Herbert Hall, after all, is a belter

And Ambriel – phew! – it’ll melt yer.

Chapel Down and Ridgeview

To name but a few

Are wines that’ll sure make yer swelter.

Breaky Bottom and Gusbourne as well

Are really rippingly swell.

And if fine Camel Valley

Is not up your alley,

Well, dammit, it sure rings my bell.

And what about dear Coates & Seely?

A wine I imbibe far too freely.

The bubbles combine

To make me just fine

And really quite touchy and feely.

And Hattingley, Denbies and Grange

Are fizzes that shouldn’t be strange

To any wine drinker

Or cerebral thinker

Who wishes to broaden their range.

The fact of the matter is clear

There are wonderful fizzes right here

In this green pleasant land,

Closer to hand

Than any they make over there.

So, boo to prosecco I say!

And to champagne as well by the way.

Let us get pissed on

A bottle of Wiston

And drink to the fizz of UK!

So, in celebration of English Wine Week, readers are invited to send in their own limericks (which need not be as long as my rambling effort) in praise of our island wines. The composer of the winning verses – as judged by me and Mark Harvey, MD of Chapel Down Wines & Spirits – will receive six bottles of fine fizz from Chapel Down, the UK’s leading producer, famed for the quality not only of its traditional method sparklers but also its still whites and rosés, beers, ciders and spirits.

This deliciously effervescent prize comprises three bottles of 2019 Chapel Down Sparkling Bacchus – a deliciously aromatic expression of England’s ‘own’ grape – and three bottles of award-winning Chapel Down Brut NV – a tasty blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Meunier.

The three runners-up will receive a signed copy of my book, Drink More Fizz! in which many English sparklers feature.

Entries should be sent to and the closing date is 15 June 2020. The judges’ decision is final. Terms and conditions apply.

Good luck and in the meantime, stay well and stay well-stocked… with English wine.

Terms and Conditions:

The promoter is: Spectator Ltd (company no. 1232804) whose registered office is at 22 Old Queen Street. The competition is open to residents of the United Kingdom aged 18 years or over except employees of The Spectator and their close relatives and anyone otherwise connected with the organisation or judging of the competition. There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions. Only one entry will be accepted per person. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified. Closing date for entry will be 15/06/2020. After this date then no further entries to the competition will be permitted. No responsibility can be accepted for entries not received for whatever reason. The rules of the competition and how to enter are as follows:

  1. The Spectator reserves the right to cancel or amend the competition and these terms and conditions without notice in the event of a catastrophe, war, civil or military disturbance, act of God or any actual or anticipated breach of any applicable law or regulation or any other event outside of the promoter’s control. Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter.
  2. The Spectator is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition.
  3. The prize is as follows: Three bottles of 2019 Chapel Down Sparkling Bacchus and three bottles of award-winning Chapel Down Brut NV

The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prizes are not transferable. Prizes are subject to availability and we reserve the right to substitute any prize with another of equivalent value without giving notice.

  1. Winners will be chosen: (15/06/2020) by our judges, from all entries received and verified by Spectator and or its agents.
  2. The winner will be notified by email within 28 days of the closing date. If the winner cannot be contacted or does not claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner.
  3. The promoter will notify the winner when and where the prize can be collected / is delivered.
  4. The promoter’s decision in respect of all matters to do with the competition will be final and no correspondence will be entered into.
  5. By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions.
  6. The competition and these terms and conditions will be governed by [English] law and any disputes will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of [England].
  7. Any personal data relating to the winner or any other entrants will be used solely in accordance with current [UK] data protection legislation and will not be disclosed to a third party without the entrant’s prior consent.
  8. Entry into the competition will be deemed as acceptance of these terms and conditions.
  9. This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter or any other Social Network. You are providing your information to The Spectator and not to any other party. The information provided will be used in conjunction with the following Privacy Policy found at

  • The Spectator ‘s decision as to those able to take part and selection of winners is final. No correspondence relating to the competition will be entered into.
  • The Spectator shall have the right, at its sole discretion and at any time, to change or modify these terms and conditions, such change shall be effective immediately upon posting to this webpage.
  • The Spectator also reserves the right to cancel the competition if circumstances arise outside of its control.