You know that things are going bad for the French at the moment and things are going well for the British when Froggy's arch-enemies across the Channel are now starting to outperform them in winemaking

Perhaps not suprisingly, the alcoholic, heavily-drinking British are the second-biggest drinkers of wine, per capita, in the world.....

British wine to topple Frenchies

Award winning drop ... Denbies chief wine grower Marcus Sharp

DECEMBER 26, 2006

BRITISH wine makers have their French counterparts on the hop as global warming threatens to topple their famous wine industry.

The UK's biggest vineyard, Denbies in Surrey, is struggling to keep up with demand after beating the French to win several prestigious international wine awards.

Chris White's father set Denbies up 20 years ago and now he is tipping a boom time for British wine as word gets around how good the local drop is.

He said: "We are beating the French at the major awards and now we are eating away at their market share.

"Sales have rocketed as the quality has improved dramatically and that has been recognised with the international awards we've received.

"With the Brits being big drinkers the Frenchies should be watching their backs.

And it is global warming that threatens to knock them off their perch.

White added: "French wines ripen earlier. English wines have struggled against French reds but now the tide is turning thanks to the warmer weather.

"The English are the second biggest drinkers of sparkling wine a head in the world and the fact we can now specialise in sparkling wine as the climate is getting warmer means a boom time is ahead."

Highly rated ... International wine judge Cliff Moyes

The British wine industry has grown 30 per cent in the past year and Denbies are now planting 10,000 vines a year to keep up with demand.

Denbies is stocked in Harrods, Summerfield's, Waitrose and independent wine merchants as well as being served on P&O cruises.

White said: "It used to be a hard sell to get our wine on supermarket shelves - now they can't get enough of it.

"There are Brits are choosing local wines. Once they have tried British wines they don't go back."

And the prices of English wine have gone up as the quality and demand increases - from 5 to 18.99 a bottle.

Even French President Jacques Chirac has enjoyed a glass of Denbies wine as has the Queen and PM Tony Blair.

Denbies has collected a string of awards including a silver medal at this years International Wine Challenge and a bronze at the Decanter World Wine Awards.

International wine judge Cliff Moyes rates British wine among the best in the world.

He said: "There has been an incredible change in the last three years.

"There are now more British wines that can compete with French.

The British winemaking industry has increased 30% in just the last year

"More local wines are nominated for awards, a few years ago you wouldn't want them in your fridge.

"Global warming is great for local producers as the increase in light helps to develop flavours in the wine and extends the growing season."

French vineyards are starting to purchase agricultural land in the UK to produce sparkling wine and White believes this is a sign of things to come.

He said: "I can't believe how much the UK wine industry is booming.

"Five years ago people would have laughed if you told them we'd be winning international awards one day.

"It is not a cottage industry any more and there is no doubt we can damage the French wine industry."

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WE put British wines to the test asking four people at random to take part in a blind test. Without knowing which bottle they were drinking we gave each a glass of French and British wine.

Charlotte Bateup, Gillford

Charlotte drinks wine regularly and preferred the English wine.

She said: "It doesn't seem as dry and the French had an acidic after taste."

Kevin Carter, Crawley

Kevin loved the English wine as he liked "the freshness to it."

He added: "It is an explosion on the palate. Where can I buy some?"

Sarah Joy, Horsham

Sarah describes herself as a fan of British wine but in this case liked the French drop better.

She said: "I liked it better as it has a fruiter palate but the English wine is great stuff."

David Hendy, Leatherhead

David says he likes his wine and after tasting a glass of each preferred the English sparkling over the French wine.

He said: "Credit to the British wine makers that they are producing a drop as good as this."

VERDICT: 3 out of 4 preferred the English wine

Last edited by Blackleaf; Dec 26th, 2006 at 07:35 AM..