If you live outside the UK you might not know that the 23rd of April is St George’s Day, Georgie boy being the “patron saint” of England. Celebrations are so muted that, in general, you might not even know about the day if you do live in the UK.
But there’s no one quite as patriotic as an ex-pat, so I was determined to quaff some quality English sparkling on the day!
Distribution of English sparkling is still quite limited here in Ireland, especially retail, though Liberty bring in Nyetimber and Hattingley Valley, Le Caveau import Wiston Estate, James Nicholson distribute Gusbourne Estate and O’Briens carry Ridgeview Cavendish (out of stock at the time of writing). If there are others I’d be glad to hear of them!
A Trio For St George’s Day
Nyetimber Blanc de Blancs 2007
100% Chardonnay (of course). Of all of the three tasted, this was the most “English” in style, if there is such a thing; it’s the racy acidity which really stands out, making it perfect as an aperitif. Fresh Granny Smith apples dominate the nose, joined by citrus and minerality on the palate. This is the current release but I think it will keep on developing for years to come.
Nyetimber Classic Cuvée 2009
55% Chardonnay, 26% Pinot Noir and 19% Pinot Meunier. Probably the best Classic Cuvée (i.e. traditional Champagne blend) so far, this was on promotion at the ridiculously low price of €45 at Ely Wine Bar (where the above snap was taken) as part of Dublin Wine Festival.
Red fruit from the two Pinots arrives first followed by citrus from the Chardonnay. For research purposes I tried it both in a Champagne flute and in a normal white wine glass. It seemed fizzier in the first but a little softer and fruitier in the latter – an interesting experiment.
Ridgeview Grosvenor 2007
With a wine-making history almost as old as Nyetimber, Ridgeview are part of the establishment. For those who have heard Moët & Chandon’s fairytale about Dom Pérignon, here is Ridgeview’s take on sparkling wine:
Ridgeview’s trade mark MERRET™ is in honour of Englishman Christopher Merret. In 1662 he presented a paper to the Royal Society in London which documented the process of making traditional method sparkling wines. This was 30 years before the technique was documented in champagne. To celebrate Merret’s achievements Ridgeview has kept a London connection when naming our range of wines.
This was a different thing entirely. Amazing layers of tropical fruit and sweet brioche competed for attention. I would never have imagined that something this exotic was made in England. I can’t see this improving any further, but there was still underlying acidity to keep it all together. If you see any of this in your local wine shop, snap it up!