Sainsbury's toasts English wine with Denbies

Sainsbury’s first own label English wine has hit the shelves running. A sparkling wine from Denbies in Dorking, English Sparkling Brut 2007 will be appearing in the Taste the Difference range.

denbiesCreated from the classic trio of Champagne varietals under the guidance of winemaker John Worontschak to a brief set by Sainsbury’s Lucy Clements, the supermarket is so keen it’s pre-ordered the next two vintages to cope with demand.

A review will follow once I’ve had a chance to taste, but in a way, this collaboration marks a coming home for the gregarious Aussie. A highly experienced flying winemaker, John had done stints with the likes of Penfolds and criss-crossed the globe before landing in the UK in the early 1990s.

John in the cellarHere he played a key role in transforming English wine. Building on his work at Thames Valley Vineyards, near Twyford - now Stanlake Park - he consulted for a large number of wineries, bringing them serious recognition along the way – his clients won the top wine trophy six years out of seven – as well as a route to market with the establishment of the Harvest Wine Group, a co-operative marketing group targeting the supermarkets.

To this day, Stanlake Park continues to make wines for many of the UK's smaller vineyards. Only a third of the UK's vineyards have their own wineries, but then since many of them are minute, that's not that surprising.

As well as last year’s IWC gold-medal winning rosé, John has also fashioned Element 20 2010, a fantastic Bacchus/Chardonnay blend, through his Litmus Wines consultancy.