Tim Hall from Scala Wine is a well known Champagne expert and importer specialising in a very carefully selected list of wines. A tasting that pits the NKOTB, English Sparkling, with the established global standard for what sparkling wine actually is, Champagne, did not escape his radar. Gratefully he shares his response here:
I think it is great. and I am entirely comfortable. It's all part of the fun of assessing wine - this is a wine specialist club, not a bench marking official outfit. Steven is obviously part of the story of this kind of face-off so a no-brainer for the club's marketing. I'm glad a club I am a member of is doing this tasting.
I don't care if Steven has a stake in UK wine; as long as the servings are properly blind and the pairs not too silly.- ie I would hope the line-up is putting similar style or quality head to head. In the end non-professionals will say and vote for what they like. Champagne should never turn its back on those kind of assessments. They are important, as are totally professional judements or competition panels, but in a different way. Tripadvisor v the experts.
My view is that there are many English sparkling wines that are as good or better than many champagnes. This is mostly because Champagne has a vast range of quality, produces a vast amount of wine with a long tail of quality.So no surprise UK fizz sits on part of that tail. But there is a v limited amount of good vintage UK fizz and at upper mid to top end champagne always seems superior to me v all comers UK. For now, anyway. And there is a lot of UK dross too.