English sparkling wine has been making headlines for a number of years now. Leaving aside the understandable national pride of some U.K. journalists (every country suffers from it) there are some seriously good English sparkling wines – at fairly serious prices too. The success, Irish winemaker Dermot Sugrue reckons, is partly down to low yields enforced by the climate. Limerick-born Sugrue makes a number of excellent sparkling wines for Wiston Estate on the South Downs and for his own label Sugrue Pierre (his wife is a Pierre). All of the wines are made from one or more of the classic Champagne grapes. For the recent Wine Geese tasting held in the Ballymaloe pop-up shop in Brown Thomas Cork, Dermot brought over the Wiston Rosé a delicious strawberry-scented dry wine that I would prefer to many a Champagne. We also tasted his delicious Sugrue Pierre sparkling dry white called ‘The Trouble with Dreams’. This is an impeccably made elegant balanced wine, with a wonderful purity of sophisticated pristine fruit, a toastiness that comes through once opened a few minutes, and a lip-smacking clean dry finish. The 2010 vintage (sadly sold out) garnered ninety-six points, the highest ever score for an English sparkling wine, in the latest edition of Decanter magazine. Let us hope some enterprising Irish importer manages to bag a few cases of Wiston or Sugure Pierre– they deserve a place on our shelves – possibly as the best Irish wine? Or does that honour go to Simon Tyrrell with his two excellent Côtes du Rhône? We also tasted these at the Brown Thomas tasting.

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