SUSSEX POPS THE CORK WITH NEW OFFERING: FITZ SPARKLING WINE
For years English sparkling wine has been overlooked. Say the word 'fizz' and consumers automatically think of French Champagne, Spanish Cava or Italian Prosecco, yet here in the South we are literally spoilt for choice, there are a plethora of award winning vineyards coasting the hills of the South downs. In recent years there has been a rise in the popularity of sparkling wines with consumers flying the flag for buying English. With that in mind I am on route to visit Fitz Wines, a new trailblazer in the wine industry, who have produced a fabulous sparkling wine using the same Charmat method as Prosecco. I am told that this method is a much faster way of producing wine, as it takes a couple of months as opposed to the champagne method which takes four years.
From this point in, I won’t label it as English Sparkling wine, as I am told that winemakers are only allowed to use that moniker if the wine has been made in the arduous champagne production process, strange considering that it is of French origin, but who am I to question it. There is another point to this story, apparently the lovely winemakers at Fitz have had to revoke English from their labels, which is a sorry tale as their wine is a great British offering, that is pushing boundaries and reshaping the way wine is made here in England, it really should be labelled accordingly.
Meanwhile, you would be forgiven for thinking that I am on route to some lush, green, scenic vineyard, well not today. I am in fact headed to a warehouse in the rugged terrain of Worthing. The first thing that you notice upon entering the establishment is the teams Joie de vivre, the warehouse is buzzing with excitement, an excitement that has crept over from their successful weekend at the Lewes Gin & Fizz Festival. Secondly you can't help but notice the branded Land Rover and horse box, which has been magnificently transformed into a pop-up wine bar for the teams’ event calendar.
I meet with winemaker, Gareth Davis and head of sales, Ollie Peniston-Bird, who are very kindly hosting a tasting to showcase their wine. What strikes me, is how passionately dedicated they are to making Fitz Wine a luxury well-known brand. I listen intently as Gareth talks me through the process of becoming a winemaker, he was always drawn to this profession and studied at Plumpton College to get his world class wine degree, he then travelled the world making wine in some of the most famous regions such as New Zealand, Serbia and France, before deciding to collaborate with Fitz Wine owner Dan Cahill. Ollie then briefs me in his own skills and expertise, a dedicated lover of wine who again studied at Plumpton, his enthusiasm is infectious, you can see that his talent lies in sales and fits perfectly with the company's ethos.
Fitz Wine has come a long way in a very short time, the brand was started in 2016 and has taken eighteen months to perfect its intriguing citrus and apple flavour. Gareth has blended a unique taste from using only English grapes such as Seyval Blanc, Madeleine Angevine, Reichensteiner and Chardonnay, to make an elegant and timeless wine. Although they haven't gone down the usual route of planting and using their own grapes from their own vineyard, they have been slightly more radical and sourced the grapes from well-known vineyards, to produce their new generation wine. This is by no means the conventional way of doing things, however it just highlights the teams modern, exciting and flexible approach to wine making.
Fitz Wine does not disappoint, it has certainly risen to the challenge, the wine has a youthful, crisp flavour with hints of citrus and apple that sets it apart from its competitors. It is modern and refreshing, not only the wine but also the branding. The concept behind the branding came from not being welcomed into the English wine set. In the Saxon times the name 'Fitzroy or Fitz was given to the illegitimate son of the king, which is quite apt for their story, and so the name Fitz Wine was born. The wine is moderately priced at around £22, which makes it an affordable luxury.
Not ones to sit on their laurels, Fitz Wines are moving on to the next offering of an exciting Rose Fizz, which I am told will be out in Spring 2019. From there, the plan is to have their own vineyard and to produce a range of still wines. While still relatively obscure in the wine industry, I am positive that this will change very quickly. Do not underestimate this new kid on the block, I am expecting big things from the very talented team at Fitz Wines.
To purchase Fitz or to make an enquiry head over to their website