Ridgeview shows how far English sparkling has come since Mike Roberts planted his first vines in Sussex
It’s not so long ago that if you said Britain could rival, or even better, French wines and cheeses you would have thought to have been either sorely misinformed or had been out in the sun too long. Although English still wines have a long way to go until they get anywhere close to the French, if indeed they ever will, sparkling wine, however is a different matter entirely; there are some powerful contenders in the English canon that would see off many a petillant, cremant or, dare I say it, Champagne.
It was only 20 years ago that the late Mike Roberts planted his first vines at Ditchling, Sussex. His intentions were clear – to only make the finest sparkling wine using Champagne varietals. His vision has perhaps been best realised by the fact that in 2010 the Blanc de Blancs 2006, was awarded the International Trophy for world’s best sparkling wine over £10, the first time that a non-Champagne had ever won this award.
Since then Ridgeview has gone from strength to strength, expanding within the UK and also abroad. The wines are now available in 12 countries worldwide with 30% of output being exported this year.
Mike’s legacy and his sad passing in 2014 were reflected upon in June 2015 at a 20th anniversary tasting of back vintages at London’s Bloomsbury Hotel, chosen incidentally to reflect the name of the estate’s signature Chardonnay-dominant blend. Eleven vintages in all were shown from the first vintage of 1996 through to the most recent 2013.
The Buyer’s verdict
What the tasting proved was that these wines not only drink when young but also age very well indeed, with added complexity, rich golden hues and amazing balance all coming into play. When you look at what Nyetimber have also been achieving with their sparkling wine, it’s clear that there’s a corner of England that will be forever France!
Ridgeview Bloomsbury 2009
This was a terrific vintage for Ridgeview and the evidence is here for all to see, smell and taste. It has a lighter golden vivacity than either the 2011 or the 2013, and a far greater complexity. The nose is simply gorgeous – nutty and fruity – and the palate has bags of greengage fruit that is perfectly balanced by the linear citrus acidity that it is one of Bloomsbury’s hallmarks. Stunning wine.
Blanc de Noirs, 2013, Limited Release
Along with the Rosé de Noirs, this is the estate’s top wine, a classy blend of only red grapes, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The Pinot Noir brings an earthiness to the complex taste that makes it an ideal partner for main courses or canapés that include games, mushrooms and lamb.
Rosé de Noirs, 2013, Limited Release
Ridgeview produces two rosés, the Signature Fitzrovia blend that is Chardonnay-dominant and this, a wine that is made from just Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, using the saignée or ‘bleeding’ method. The colour is a subtle rose petal pink with a complex palate of summer berries, honey and toasted brioche. Delicious drunk with strawberries or a cream tea.