When you think about a winery, visions of sprawling green vines, bright sunshine and fantastic views come to mind. Lexington’s trip to the Ridgeview wine estate delivered pretty much all of that, however in typical English fashion the sunshine did not appear!
I’ve always been a massive supporter of home grown produce, choosing locally sourced ingredients over their massed produced counterparts. However, I felt very differently about wine. Before this tour I had almost written off English wine as expensive and unpredictable… how very wrong I was!
A pioneer of the English sparkling wine industry, Ridgeview wines are served in many of the best restaurants around the world. The wines have been served by Her Majesty the Queen at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, state banquets at Buckingham Palace and are the official sparkling wine of No.10 Downing Street. With such a prestigious background, the team were thrilled to try some of the wines which are now coming to the forefront of the industry.
Our gracious host, Business Development Manager Tom, took us through the concept-to-bottle journey. Founded in 1995, Ridgeview is a second-generation family company dedicated to the production of the highest quality English sparkling wine. Nestled at the foot of the picturesque South Downs in the village of Ditchling, the site was chosen for its unique geology and cool climate conditions incredibly suited for sparkling wine production. When asked what Ridgeview’s secret was to creating such a high quality wine, Tom stated that it was achieved by “using traditional methods, classic grape varieties and a lot of patience and passion!.
After a fascinating history lesson and tour around the production facilities, we were treated to a tasting of their sparkling wines. Several of the collection are named after iconic locations in London and each have their own distinct palette. However, the standout wine of the day was Bloomsbury, their signature bottle. For us it was the dominance of the Chardonnay grape; the upfront fruit freshness, balanced by wonderful natural acidity. This would make a fantastic celebration wine, and the versatile flavour also makes it perfect for pairing with food.
Ridgeview certainly opened my eyes to some of the incredible wine we have right on our doorstep. I dare to say that they can certainly rival their more famous French counterparts! When I next go to choose a bottle of something fizzy to celebrate with, I’ll be sure to lookout for something home grown.