We could not possibly review the Rows & Vine without a nod to the base of the entire operation – the award-winning vineyard and the produce thereof.
Ridgeview was founded in 1994 by Mike and Christine Roberts, and is dedicated to creating world-class sparkling wines in the South Downs of England. The vineyards specialise in growing classic grape varieties to make the highest quality bottle fermented sparkling wines. The world-class status of its wines is reflected by the number of national and international medals and trophies they have received since the release of the first wines from the 1996 vintage.
The second generation of the family has now become established in key roles within Ridgeview, with Mike and Christine’s daughter Tamara now being the CEO, enabling the continued and rapid expansion of the business. Their dedication, passion and determination have significantly contributed to the international reputation and popularity now attributed to English Sparkling Wine.
Many years ago, English wine was scoffed at by the French wine industry. But then climate change came along. Northern France and south east England have the same chalky soil, with France having the climate and topography that ‘was’ perfect for growing the finest grapes.
Climate change altered all that and as the French market suffers dreadfully, with many being paid by the government to rip up the vines and plant olive trees; the southern English soil now provides the perfect conditions for first-class vines. So much so that many French vineyards are buying every acre of southern English land that becomes available. In 2015, French champagne house Taittinger purchased a 100-acre farm in Kent and will have its first bottles ready this year. Pommery, Freixenent and Louis Roederer have all purchased land in an area historically called The Garden of England – now known as The Vineyard of England. In blind tasting a few years back Ridgeview beat them all. Buy British!
• The Chardonnay-dominant Bloomsbury has fruit-forward flavours, good acidity, delicious flavours of pear and brioche and creamy mousse. It was served at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
• Cavendish has a darker fruit profile, as it’s dominated by the red grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, in addition to Chardonnay. It has creaminess on the palate, and spicy pear and clove notes.
• The Fitzrovia Rosé is Chardonnay-dominant with a delicate salmon colour achieved by the addition of red wine. It is a refreshing sparkling rosé with a pleasing raspberry flavour.
• The Blanc de Blancs is a single vineyard wine made of Chardonnay, grown right outside the tasting room. The 2006 vintage of this wine won best sparkling wine in the world from Decanter in 2010. It has lovely apple and pear flavours with refreshing acidity.
• The Rosé de Noir is also excellent, with a lovely pale onion skin colour, and spicy red fruit notes.
• The Blanc de Noir is a gorgeous rich and yeasty sparkler with dense apple compote flavours.
Ridgeview Wine Estate, Fragbarrow Lane, Ditchling Common, East Sussex BN6 8TP