You can be forgiven for not knowing, but I am tyrannical about poor spelling.
So the fact that I have spelt Ridgeview wrong throughout the course of the past months is a bit distressing. But there are worse things happening in the world. So I will have to get over myself.
Especially as I was given such a lovely birthday weekend by Ruth…
It’s become a bit of a tradition that I get a surprise for my birthday. And Ruth has had to develop over the years all sorts of clever subterfuges to keep it secret as, by some unconscious process, I seem to develop all the innate abilities of a private investigator from about May onwards. Hyper-vigilant to any clues as to the forthcoming birthday antics…
But it was too easy this year. When I saw the envelope from Ridgeview addressed to the lady in question then I at least knew some of the answer. But the half of it that I did guess in no way disappointed.
We arrived at the vineyard for an 11am start and Mardi Roberts, Sales & Marketing Manager for Ridgeview, took us into the vines. With her native Australian accent a little subdued by life with the Poms, Mardi led us gently by the hand through the story of the Ridgeview calendar.
She conjured up images of naughty grape-loving badgers; cold nearly-mornings, the vineyard lit with paraffin lamps to ward off the frost; industrious hands green-harvesting in good summers and sorting cratefuls of grapes to ensure that only the very best get a chance to make the cuvée…
Mardi conveyed the sense that, like most premium wine producing vineyards the world over, the Ridgeview enterprise is very much a family affair. And in our tour through the winery, it was re-inforced for me once again the notion that you need already to have made or inherited a shedload of money before you are able to start printing more by making good wine – especially good wine with bubbles.
Ridgeview’s outfit at Ditchling (near Brighton) is of the highest technological order. The most up to date equipment from the Champagne region is there, part-funded by grants from DEFRA, so that it can be used by other grape-growers. And the company is diversifying its business interests by making wine not only for other vineyards but also for Waitrose and M&S.
So in due course we got to the tasting in the room that best takes in the view of the ridge, and we had a chance to explore the different Ridgeview blends…
Bloomsbury is their Chardonnay-dominant offering and this was our starter. I had my Twitter fingers on that morning, and if you cast your eye over to the other side of the blog, you can probably still get a sense of the profundity.
The Bloomsbury was, for me, not quite as prosaic as my summer meadows tasting comment, but it was all to get better. The Cavendish (more pinot in this) was the first Ridgeview I ever tasted some three or four years ago and the memory was in no way despoiled by a re-visit. This was toasty and rich and the mousse was as creamy as a ferret’s tummy.
And the Knightsbridge was well, oh. Just sublime.
So good in fact that they have more or less sold out of their latest vintage. Which Mardi, in a beautifully Pom, understated sort of way, just slipped in to the patter.
I kid you not, the whole set up is incredibly impressive. We were there just as the London Olympics was getting under way; when there had been a 70% increase in demand – and a massive spike in English Sparkling Wine sales across the country. Ridgeview is already among the wine medals internationally, and it’s not hard to see why. Not only is the product of an incredibly high standard, but the presentation is too.
We couldn’t resist taking some of the Victoria home with us. This is a recent addition to the Ridgeview collection – a Diamond Jubilee pink that is truly, mouth-wateringly delicious.
Looking back on it, I gauge the success of the trip by these two disappointments: that we couldn’t get our hands on any of the Knightsbridge, and that the Victoria wasn’t for sale in magnum.
So whether you have to cycle Ditchling Beacon to get there, or you can bear to use your car, I’d recommend a trip to Ridgeview Wine Estate. Birthday or not.