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Norfolk winemaker defends English wines as Marco Pierre White claims only a “numpty” would drink them

Lee Dyer at Winbirri Vineyard in Surlingham. 
Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Lee Dyer at Winbirri Vineyard in Surlingham. Picture by SIMON FINLAY.

Celebrity chef Marco Pierre White has described English wines as “nonsense” and claimed that only a “numpty” would drink them.

Winbirri Vineyards. Picture : ANTONY KELLY Winbirri Vineyards. Picture : ANTONY KELLY

His comments have spread across the wine industry like wildfire, with lots of companies now standing in defence of their products - including Norfolk winemaker, Winbirri Vineyards.

Earlier this year Winbirri in Surlingham became the first English vineyard in history to win the accolade of world’s best single varietal white wine at the Decanter World Wine Awards.

Over 17,000 wines were entered into the awards with Winbirri’s 2015 Bacchus scoring 95/100 to win the platinum best in show title.

Despite this, Mr Pierre White believes that “the French make the best wine”, while “the English just play at it”.

Responding to the controversial comments, Winbirri’s head winemaker, Lee Dyer, said: “Marco Pierre White clearly didn’t get the memo that an English wine beat out the French in the Decanter World Wine Awards - the biggest awards in the industry!

“His statement wasn’t backed up with any factual information, it was merely his opinion.”

Norwich-based chef Richard Bainbridge has also shared his support for English wine.

“We have about 450 vineyards in England and over the last five years climate change has left us with similar weather conditions to certain regions of France, meaning we can make some fantastic wine,” he said.

Richard Bainbridge and Adam Vass enjoying their English sparkling wine. Photo by Katja Bainbridge. Richard Bainbridge and Adam Vass enjoying their English sparkling wine. Photo by Katja Bainbridge.

“We may not have the heritage that French winemakers have, but we’ve got a fresh new perspective and I believe that over the next few years our wine industry is only going to continue to get stronger and stronger.”

He added: “English sparkling wine is now rivalling some of the best Champagnes in the world, because of this we decided to stop selling Champagne by the glass at Benedicts and instead selected two English sparkling wines to offer.

“Customers still come into the restaurant asking for a glass of Champagne, but once they try our alternatives they are won over.”

• What do you think of Marco Pierre White’s comments? Let us know in the comments below.

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