Broadstairs is a pretty seaside town in Kent, special only to the people who know it. Among its claims to fame are an association with Dickens and it has been widely suggested it was the inspiration for the novel the 39 steps. On a more serious note Broadstairs is the fishing port to which Wellington’s dispatch declaring news of the victory at Waterloo was first received. The town has long been home to a catering college associated with the late Gary Rhodes and the college now has a working hotel attached. The town also has Michelin Starred restaurant Stark one of only four Michelin Starred restaurants in the county. 

In this environment it was perhaps not unusual to see a wine tasting at the local food festival. Somewhat more unusual and definitely encouraging was that the event had two wine tastings both highlighting quality Kentish wines. 

Biddenden Vineyard hosted a wine tasting in conjunction with a local cheese maker and another tasting was hosted by Master of Wine Clive Barlow of Corkk wines. 

Clive is Panel Chair for the International Wine Challenge and senior judge for the Decanter wine competition along with his teaching role at the London Wine Academy. It was good to see the event fully sold out and members of the public being introduced not just to the sparkling wines that Kent produces but also a number of still wines with different grape varieties. For most wine drinkers in the UK it has been very difficult to miss the rising star of English and Welsh sparkling wines. Sporting events all over the UK now showcase sparkling wines from these shores but Clive Barlow introduced the paying audience to a Bacchus, Pinot Gris and Pinot Noir Rosé a selection which provided something for everyone. 

Clive pointed out that the average wine drinker will consume more still wine than sparkling and with the number of acres under vine increasing year on year events like these that introduce the public to the excellent still wines that are available on their own doorstep will be vital for the continued growth of our industry. 

Clive Barlow also announced that in addition to their online store, Corkk will soon be opening their own shop featuring English and Welsh wines in the Cathedral town of Canterbury in Kent. Customers will be able to benefit from the variations found in English wines that are not constrained by tradition and history but are expressive and reflect individual regions, grapes and winemakers. 

For continental Europe local produce is highlighted even in supermarkets with titles such as ‘products from here’ on supermarket shelves so it is exciting to see investment in shops that are dedicated to the promotion of English wines both sparkling and still.