I’ve been tasting (and liking) English sparkling wines for a few years now … but only when I am in Europe. The wines just haven’t been available here and until recently there hasn’t been much demand for or buzz about them. Nevertheless, when Meghan Caiazzo of Victory Wine Group asked for an appointment to present the wines, I quickly agreed. So in September of 2016, I met with Meghan and Ridgeview CEO Tamara Roberts. I knew that Meghan (one of the partners at Victory) was “bringing in a rep from Ridgeview” to taste their wines with me but I did not know who she was. She was quiet and humble and a bit shy but obviously both informed and passionate about Ridgeview’s English Sparkling wines. As the meeting progressed, I realized this was no mere “marketing rep” but it wasn’t until I actually asked her that she admitted that she was in charge at Ridgeview. As the Ridgeview website says “… she (Tamara Roberts) is responsible for the day to day running of the business, ensuring all areas are working together to achieve the best results. Not much happens at Ridgeview without her knowledge.” Which in my book makes her the motive force behind this excellent producer of quite Champagne-like English sparkling wines.
Also from the Ridgeview web-site …
Ridgeview was founded in 1994 by Mike and Chris Roberts and is dedicated to creating world class sparkling wines in the South Downs of England. Our vineyards specialise in growing classic grape varieties to make the highest quality bottle fermented sparkling wines. The world class status of our wines is reflected by the number of national & international medals and trophies we have received since the release of our first wines from the 1996 vintage.
Ridgeview uses the three main Champagne varieties (Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay) and the Champagne process (methode champenoise) but the grapes are grown in cool climate vineyards at the “foot of the South Downs in Sussex” and the wines are made at Ridgeview’s purpose built sparkling wine production facility in England. If you love Champagne and are open to experiencing fine fizz from elsewhere in the world, you need to try these special wines. If you’re wondering what to call them, I’m partial to “British Bubbles.” Here are my notes on the four Ridgeview wines available in Texas:
RIDGEVIEW WINE ESTATE Bloomsbury, England (Sussex), 2014 ($29.99)
A blend of 58% Chardonnay, 28% Pinot Noir, and 14% Pinot Meunier. Primary fermentation 100% stainless steel with less than 1% aged in old French oak barrels. 100% malo-lactic fermentation. Aged 12 months on its yeasts disgorged June 2016. Dosage 9.6g/l. Straw in color with green highlights; dry, medium light-bodied with fresh acidity and scant phenolics. Delicious focused very Champagne-like with citrus fruit and toast in the lighter stylisitic range. Very long in the mouth and finishes clean, dry and fresh. BearScore: 91.
RIDGEVIEW WINE ESTATE, Fitzrovia Rosé, 2014 ($37.79)
A blend of 50% Chardonnay, 33% Pinot Noir, and 17% Pinot Meunier all fermented in 100% stainless steel. 100% malo-lactic fermentation. Red wine for addition made from Pinot Meunier (on skins for 3 days then fermented with skins and pressed). Aged 11 months on its yeasts. disgorged April 2016, Dosage 10 g/l. Orange salmon in color; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and scant phenolics. Lovely more elegant style of Rose with some red fruit and more citrus. Not food Rose, more in an aperitif style but really delicious. Yum. BearScore: 92+.
RIDGEVIEW WINE ESTATE Cavendish, England, 2013 ($29.99)
A blend of 40% Pinot Meunier, 34% Chardonnay, and 26% Pinot Noir fermented in stainless steel with full malo-lactic fermentation. Aged 18 months on its yeasts. disgorged in May 2016 with a dosage of 8.8 g/l. Green-gold-straw in color; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and scant phenolics. Supple richer more red fruit style brut with red fruit and citrus and mineral earth. Pleanty of toast. Quite Champagne like. BearScore: 92+.
RIDGEVIEW WINE ESTATE Blanc de Noirs, England, 2013 ($37.79)
A blend of 55% Pinot Meunier, and 45% Pinot Noir fermented in stainless steel with a full malo-lactic fermentationl, Aged 18 months on its yeasts. disgorged in January 2016 with a dosage of 8.8g/l . Green-gold-straw in color with a hint of copper; dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity and scant phenolics. Deeper richer earthier darker red fruit with more depth. More brooding and more red wine character with real depth and richness.. BearScore: 93.