Michael Portillo visits Coates & Seely

November 2022

Sunday with Michael Portillo

Taste of Britain: Coates & Seely a very sparkling success

Michael Portillo visits Coates & Seely to meet the team and discuss the similarity of wine production in the North Hampshire Downs to the Champagne region. 

Mr Portillo asked co-founder Nicholas Coates how it is possible to grow great wines in Southern England.  Nicholas explained that it was largely to do with the similarity of the chalk downlands of England to the Champagne region. The soil type and the cool climate go together to make great Champagne and sparkling wines, such as Coates & Seely. 

Even twenty years ago Coates & Seely’s success would have been difficult to achieve but the relative warming over the last couple of decades has nudged the climate to the ideal for sparkling wine grape growth.

Michael Portillo Coates & Seely a very sparkling success

Nicholas went on to explain that the gentle slope and orientation of the Coates & Seely vineyards are key to the perfect ripening of the grapes towards the end of the season in September, with the lower sun levels reaching and ripening all the grapes. 

Nicholas introduced Michael to the Coates & Seely winemaker Andras Lorincz at the winery, set in the heart of the Hampshire vineyards.

2022 – A very promising harvest

As Nicholas explained, the key thing with the recently pressed juices is that the sugars and acidity are in perfect balance.  This year, a very hot, sweet year, brings an exciting complexity as well as harmony to the flavour of the wines.  Andras confirmed 2022 to be a very promising harvest.  As affirmed by Mr Portillo, the winemaking process sits on the borderline between science and art.

On leaving the winery, Mr Portillo met Coates & Seely’s Head of Sales – Tristram Coates, on board Albion, the classic racing green British Leyland vintage bus, which has become an essential part of the Coates & Seely sales strategy.

Champagne vs English Sparkling Wine

Michael acknowledged that whenever he could afford to celebrate, he would usually choose a bottle of Champagne over Prosecco or Cava and asked Tristram how Coates & Seely are addressing the prejudice and that, in fact, English sparkling wines can be as good if not better than Champagne.

Michael Portillo meets C&S Head of Sales Tristram Coates
Michael Portillo meets C&S Head of Sales Tristram Coates

Tristram asserted that, particularly in the last 15 years, English wines are being produced of incredible quality, as agreed by key opinion formers in the wine industry.  Testament to the quality of the English wines is the venues where the wines can be found; some of London’s best restaurants and, for Coates and Seely, the George V in Paris – the only English wine ever to be drunk there.   

Great English wines

More and more people are beginning to acknowledge that England produces some great wines.  Coates & Seely are proud to celebrate their connection to Champagne.  Tristram continued that a lot of C&S winemakers come from a Champagne background, and that has been instrumental in ensuring that Coates & Seely wines always reach that optimum quality. Championing the craft of Champagne making on English soil.

The interview ended with Michael Portillo declaring his instant conversion to English sparkling wine.

Michael Portillo declares his conversion to English sparkling wine
Michael Portillo declares his conversion to English sparkling wine
Michael Portillo visits Coates & Seely