Since early December when Champagne producer Taittinger announced that they'd purchased vineyard land in Kent, England, the press has been writing about English sparkling wine and the wine world has been talking about its improved quality. The wines offer exceptional quality and value for their price.

The Champagne region in France is located near the northern limits of the wine world along the 49th parallel. The cool climate region makes it difficult for the grapes to ripen, but serves to produce high levels of acidity which is perfect for sparkling wine.  The chalky soil is ideal as it absorbs water during winter and gives it back to the vine's roots during summer. 

The southeastern region of Sussex, England has chalk beds and it is there that you find the famous White Cliffs of Dover.  Although this is the warmest part of England, it is cooler than the Champagne region.  A succession of warm summers that have allowed the grapes to ripen has significantly contributed to the quality of the sparkling wines. The numerous international awards in recent years reflect the improvement in quality and global attention.

Ridgeview, Nvetimber and Coates & Seely have been crafting traditional Method Champenoise (second fermentation in the bottle to create fine pinpoint bubbles) sparkling wine for decades. However, the English bubblies are just now beginning to reach our market.

Ridgeview just celebrated their 20th anniversary. They make six sparkling wines using the traditional Champagne grapes. Three of the cuvées are now available through distributor Siema Wines.  Almost all of the initial allotment in September 2015 was sold to British Airways for its lounge at Washington Dulles International Airport. A second shipment arrived in December, but it is already sold out. A third shipment is due to arrive in mid-February.

Ivy Provisions was able to procure a case before it was all sold!  The Bloomsbury Brut cuvée includes all three of the traditional Champagne grapes: Chardonnay is the base and is filled out with pinot noir and pinot meunier. You’ll have an opportunity to taste it, along with other sparkling wines, at our special Valentine’s Day tasting on February 10 from 5 to 7 p.m.  

I have two bottles at home waiting to be savored and shared next month when we will travel to New Jersey. We will visit with our granddaughter, Savannah, who was born on Christmas Day, and her other set of grandparents, who are English. We’ll toast to the little one and to our expanded family. The Ridgeway Bloomsbury Brut, 2013, will be a very fitting choice. 

If that is not enough of an endorsement for you to purchase a bottle for $36.99 the wines have been royally received and we’re pretty certain that if the Queen approves, you will too!

For more information, www.ridgeview.co.uk.

Joyce

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