Roger Jones Spring 2021
The growth of quality sparkling wine in the UK has been phenomenal in recent years, with top Champagne houses even buying into the English countryside in an attempt to keep up.
One such star is Ridgeview, producing world-class sparkling wines from its East Sussex vineyards on the edge of the South Downs for more than 25 years, dating
back to the days when English wine was dismissed not only by the Europeans, but by many in our own drinks trade.
Ridgeview has collected numerous high-profile awards down the years, including IWSC Winemaker of the Year 2018, and has a thriving export market, with its wines served at many prestigious Royal occasions.
Of course, Champagne and sparkling wine is rightly looked upon as a celebration drink. But I think we all deserve a bit of cheer and am highlighting some food and wine matching that can ensure that your BBQ has a touch of sparkle and fun.
Sparkling wine (including Champagne) is very much like wine, in that the better the quality the more you will get from it. This is not all about bubbles; there is a great flavour profile, texture and especially freshness and zing to be found in these wines.
Ridgeview in the heart of rural Sussex is a family business, currently run by second generation family member; Tamara Roberts, daughter of founder Mike Roberts, with her brother Simon Roberts, head wine maker.
Every single grape is handpicked, with only the best selected. Making wine in a cool climate viticulture like England has challenges from late frosts in May to the rain, but there are also many benefits that aid the production of beautiful elegant quintessential English sparkling wines.
Three grapes are grown to produce their range of sparkling wines; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, which is the same for the majority of Champagnes.
Everything is produced onsite. The grapes are pressed at the company’s state-of-the-art winery, before being fermented in stainless steel and oak barrels and then bottled and aged in its underground cellars. Where it states Non-Vintage (NV) remember that the winery would have held these sparkling wines for at least three years to evolve.
Ridgeview Bloomsbury NV (RRP £30)
This is led by the Chardonnay grape; crisp and clean on the palate with a delicate fizz. Then you find white stone fruit, think of luscious white peaches.
A honeyed background gives some sweetness without the hit, and then I get a touch of lemon, but as a curd or confit, which gives it acidity. With all these attributes, this wine is ideal with shellfish, and I have gone for barbecued whole lobsters, although prawns or langoustines would be great. The freshness in the wine cleans away the beautiful charred lobster shell aromas and gives a citrus hit to lift the lobster meat to a sublime level.
Ridgeview Cavendish NV (RRP £30)
This wine is led by the Pinot Noir grape, making it especially good with food, especially meat and I have matched this with a pork fillet.
Firstly, you will notice the gentle aromatics and perfume of red berries on the palate. As you drink it will give you a mouthful of berries and a hint of delicate hazelnut, but above all it is fresh and bright, charming in that it balances the fruit well, with a hint of savouriness, fresh and very easy drinking. You will need lots of it.
The pork fillet I wrapped in English Coppa, similar to Parma ham and anchovies, served with a mango chutney.
Ridgeview Blanc de Noirs 2014 (RRP £50)
Blanc de Noirs of course means black grapes, which reflects the Pinot grapes. This wine is only made in exceptional years and 2014 was pretty sensational. It was made from both Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes.
The flavours from this sparkling wine are different to the Non-Vintage ones; definitely a wine with more texture and flavours. Juicy red Kent cherries, the sweetest ripe apricots or maybe that perfect dried juicy apricot. A touch of spice and then a fresh bright finish, cleansing the palate for the next glass.
If you are handy with a South African braai then you will know what a Braaibroodjie is. Here I have elevated the mere toasted sandwich to a luxurious truffle and prime English cheese toastie. Layered with three stunning cheeses – Old Winchester, Baron Bigod and Berwick Edge – lashings of black truffles and a coating of Guernsey butter with two slices of bread. The truffles were from Spain sourced by www.wiltshiretruffles.com Roger Jones held a Michelin Star for 12 years prior to retiring from running his own restaurant – The Harrow at Little Bedwyn in Wiltshire – at the start of 2020, to concentrate on his journalism and wine judging.
Jones has worked for Decanter for over 12 years and is one of its key judges for Australia at the annual Decanter World Wine Awards. He is a panel chair for the International Wine & Spirit Competition, ambassador for the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships and one of the founder wine writers for The-Buyer.net.
Jones also runs his own consultancy, advising numerous companies and bodies on marketing and food and drink matching.
‘The wine chef bar none, Roger Jones
has turned his passion for wine into a headline act, bringing great cooking and a deep knowledge of wines of South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and elsewhere to the table doing much for the profile of New World wine and food compatibility’ – Harpers’ Hot 100.
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