Richard Mark James' wine & travel blog
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17 July 2005

World Wide Trophy for Best Sparkling Wine goes to...England

RidgeView Merret Bloomsbury 2002 snatched the award in the International Wine and Spirit Competition 2005. This blend of Champagne varieties Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier is made at the vineyard and winery situated north of Ditchling in Sussex. The estate currently produces between 40 – 50,000 bottles a year, and is a family business set up by Mike and Christine Roberts only in 1994; their son Simon shares the winemaking. RidgeView’s sparkling wines are named after Christopher Merret, who apparently recorded making traditional method sparkling wine in 16th Century London with the Royal Society 30 years before Dom Pérignon in Champagne. Open Monday to Saturday 11am to 4.30pm for sales and tastings, their wines are also stocked by Waitrose, Sunday Times Wine Club, the Wine Society and independent specialists around the country. Further info: tel 01444 241441, ridgeviewestate@aol.com or www.ridgeview.co.uk
Tasting notes of Merret older vintages might be resurrected at some point...

01 July 2005

Portugal: Porto Solene, Douro valley

Porto Solene

These two new ports from Quinta de São Cristóvão look the part with stylish elegant picture label, flat-shouldered 50cl bottle in clear glass and little black coffin box. Unfortunately I couldn't find a picture to copy on the internet! Bottled in 2004, the Ruby is aged for around 6-7 years and the Tawny 8-9 years, and both offer pretty good quality and classic styles with lovely youthful fruit (perhaps too so, it needs a couple of years further ageing to integrate the alcohol) in the case of the former and more mature rich nuttiness from the latter. Tasted July 2005:
Ruby Special Reserve NV, Douro valley (20%) - A little fiery and youthful, but this has plenty of lively and quite concentrated plum and blackberry fruit underneath to please, rounded off with light touches of earthy leather and some dry tannin to offset the sweetness. Try with mature hard cheeses (not Stilton or similar blue). 87
Tawny Special Reserve NV, Douro valley (20%) - Serve chilled: seductive roasted pecan nut fruit adds tanginess to the aged molasses sweetness, with 20% alcohol also lending some balance; keep chilled as it gets a bit sickly once warm. 87

Lots more Port & Douro here.