|Bubbly best: Olly Smith (left) with Wiston winemaker Dermot Sugrue|
We might not yet know the name of the godmother chosen to christen P&O Cruises’ Britannia next March - watch this space for an announcement coming very soon – but we now know what bubbly will be smashed on the ship’s bow at the climax of the ceremony.
In celebration of the best of British that Britannia stands for, it will be from the award-winning Wiston Estate Winery in West Sussex.
Four Nebuchadnezzars of the non-vintage Brut – each holding the equivalent of 20 normal-sized bottles – will be used for the naming, though P&O have not said how many will be smashed in rehearsal.
Thousands more bottles of the NV Brut, together with the estate’s 2011 vintage and its gold medal-winning Rose, will be enjoyed during the inaugural events.
Dozens of members of the top tier of P&O’s Peninsular Club – those who have accumulated more than 2,501 points and have spent more than 201 nights on the ships within the past three years – were invited to announcement at Wiston House today.
They were treated to a tasting hosted by P&O’s wine expert Olly Smith, and winemaker Dermot Sugrue. They also learned about the history of the Wiston estate from the Goring family who have lived there for centuries, and about the future of Britannia from P&O director Christopher Edgington.
Smith, who will have his biggest-yet Glass House bar on Britannia - says he chose the wine for its “impeccable quality and for its poise between modernity and tradition.” Edgington added “The Wiston Estate Winery stood out as a British brand with a proud history, very much in our own mould.”
The 6,500-acre Wiston estate in the South Downs devotes just 16 acres to growing Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes for its sparkling wines. The terroir is strikingly similar to the French Cote de Blancs region where Champagne is produced.
Britannia will set out on her maiden voyage on March 14 after a week of celebrations in her homeport of Southampton. The ship’s first season will take her on cruises to the Mediterranean, Canaries, and Norwegian Fjords and the Baltic before moving to the Caribbean for the winter.