Review: Alder Ridge vineyard tour and tasting
Sunshine and sparkling wine – a match made in Muddy heaven. To celebrate English Wine Week we wafted around Berkshire's answer to the Champagne region for a local vineyard tour and tasting.
Alder Ridge is a boutique vineyard a smidge outside Hungerford on the site of the Muddy Award-winning Cobbs Farm Shop. It has been a PYO farm for donkeys years and in 2011 they planted five acres of vines, adding a further two acres in 2015 on their south facing fields.
Why is this area so good for growing grapes? Well, climate change and the fact it shares the same chalk found in the Champagne region. The vineyard produces 7,000 bottles of bubbly each year and the fruit is handpicked before being sent over the border to Emma Rice at Hattingley Valley in Alresford, Hants.
Hosted by Ollie and Natasha of Berks Fizz, the tours are informative but informal. So if you’re panicking about your lack of wine knowledge (other than drinking it), this is place for you. Natasha was our guide, which starts off in a wooden cabin where Natasha tells us a little bit about the Alder Ridge vineyard, with a glass of Special Cuvée to get your in groove. We learn how to swish the glass around like a pro and sniff out the different flavours – hmm citrus fruits, crunchy green apple, brioche. You could almost call it breakfast.
But we’re not here to sit, we here to see, so Natasha grabs the bottle of Sparkling Rosé, tells us to take our flutes and out into the sunshine we go, into the vineyard located in the neighbouring field. You get to hear about the grape varieties planted, why they were chosen, the different stages of growth and production, the cool tech they have fitted to protect this fragile fruit from frost, why English Wines are having a moment and other fascinating tit bits. Meanwhile, Nastasha pops the cork on the Sparkling Rosé and asks to swirl, sniff and snip before guessing what aromas we are getting. It’s fascinating. It’s also a lovely
We tasted three Alder Ridge sparkling wines. The Special Cuvée quite an acidic non-vintage sparkling wine that works well with fish and chips, the Blanc de Noir fruity, brioche flavours and very smooth and the newest release their first ever Sparkling Rosé – a combo of hand-picked Pinot Noir, Précoce and Meunier grapes from the 2017 harvest. I can confirm it is light and very delicious. The perfect tipple for an afternoon drinks in the garden.
If your taste buds have been tickled and you want to get stuck in at home, you can buy a bottle or three from Natasha back at Wine Workshop HQ or slip one into your basket at Cobbs Farm Shop. You can even treat yourself to Afternoon Tea in the café with a glass of Alder Ridge. Oh, go on, if you insist..
Good for: Foodies, wine drinkers and anyone loves an Instagrammable hot spot.
Bad for: If you fall in love with the wines, it could become an expensive habit at £30-£38 per bottle. But it’s a delicious treat.
£££: The tour costs a very modest £20 per person and the opportunity to try three glasses of fizz. I reckon that’s a bargain.
- Sample loads of English Wines at the English Wine & Food Festival, Cobbs Farm Hungerford on 25-26 June