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  • Jancis Robinson
Written by
  • Jancis Robinson
26 May 2003

Surprise and delight your friends with this marvel - unless those friends are English of course, in which case they will be deeply suspicious of it and you'll have to swathe the bottle heavily in white linen to even get them to try it.

We served it recently to our most fastidious wine-loving French friends and they were most impressed. It has a very fine and persistent mousse, smells very definitely of cool-climate, Chardonnay-based fizz, has notable but not uncomfortable acidity - with no attempt to disguise this by clumsy dosage - and a very strong resemblance to another, much more famous sort of sparkling wine from northern Europe. (No, not Henkell Trocken.)

This particular wine even won a gold medal in the Oenologues de France's international tasting this year, an achievement matched by only six per cent of the entries.

There is really no doubt now that the most successful English wines - if success is measured by the number of people who are impressed by them - are traditional-method sparkling wines, and Nyetimber, established in the Sussex countryside by an American couple, was the first to demonstrate this. (Stuart and Sandy Moss have since sold the estate to songwriter Andy Hill, and new winemaker Peter Morgan is planning to give the wine even longer bottle-ageing on the lees - although it is clear that no corners have been cut here on the 1995.) Ridgeview has since made some particularly good fizz too.

I've chosen this wine this week partly because in my experience this is the time of year when visitors to Britain (such as remain) are at their peak. This would be an ideal wine for British hosts to serve to foreign friends. But it is far from old. I would guess it could well taste even better - rounder - in two or three years. or by calling 01536 772264.

My favourite English vineyard to visit - by quite a margin - is Carla Carlisle's Wyken in Suffolk, just east of Bury St Edmunds. Quite apart from the vineyard and some wines, red and white made with devotion as evinced on the second series of our or call 01359 250240.