Rosé tinted Sparkling wines have recently been gaining a lot of attention, particularly rosé, which, while still a niche category, is growing in popularity. Not to be overlooked is English sparkling wine, which has been garnering positive reviews among international experts.
Sparkling wine makes up two-thirds of Britain's wine production, and companies have made considerable investment on geological studies to map soil types. Chalk and greensand, which have properties similar to those of the Champagne region, in France, are the most favoured.
Most of England's best wineries are located in the south. Warmer climates, thanks to climate change, have helped grapes there reach optimum ripeness.
Part of the appeal is the versatility. No longer served just as an aperitif, sparkling wine is food friendly and great for sipping throughout a meal.
Ridgeview is a second-generation family business founded in 1994 by Mike Roberts, a successful IT businessman. Today, Ridgeview is managed by the late Roberts' son, Simon, and daughter, Tamara. Chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier - classic champagne grapes - were planted at the base of the South Downs, in Sussex. Like that in the Champagne region, 140km to the south, the soil here has a high chalk composition. Nights are cool, helping the grapes to retain acidity. Ridgeview made headline news when Queen Elizabeth served its wine to United States President Barack Obama during his official visit. Not content to rest on their laurels, the producers at Ridgeview plan to increase production and exports.
Across the Channel in Reims, northeast France, Alain Thiénot established his champagne house after a 20-year career as a grape broker. His production is small by champagne standards and the landholdings cover 27 hectares, with production of about one million bottles. The company is now in the hands of brother and sister Stanislas and Garance.
Ridgeview Victoria Rosé 2009
A blend of 63 per cent pinot meunier and 37 per cent pinot noir. Made using the saignée method, when a portion of the juice is removed or bled off from the grape must.
Vibrant raspberry, strawberry, citrus fruits. A persistent mousse with balanced acidity and fresh fruit flavours. An approachable wine style and ready to drink now. HK$268
Thiénot Cuvée Garance, Blanc de Noirs 2007
A blanc de noir is a white wine made from black grapes. This involves separating the skins from the juice soon after the fruit is pressed. Minimal contact with the skins prevents the leaching of colour to the juice.
The wine is named after Alain Thiénot's daughter, Garance, who was named after a plant that produces a red dye.
Rich berry fruit, with some toasty, yeasty notes. Quite full bodied, with depth, complexity with high fruit intensity and a firm structure. Elegant and long on the finish. HK$740
Thiénot Brut Rosé NV
A blend of 45 per cent pinot noir, 35 per cent chardonnay and 20 per cent pinot meunier, with 45 per cent of the blend coming from reserve wines, to ensure consistency and add complexity.
Delicate red fruit, some honey notes. Elegant with crisp acidity, harmonious and well balanced on the palate. HK$400
The wines are available from Berry Bros & Rudd www.bbr.com/hk