Château Dorking: how a vineyard in Surrey created the world's best rosé
Wednesday 18 May 2011
Rosé is a wine created out of sun-blasted vineyards in the south of France, Spain or Italy, best drunk ice cold on a warm Mediterranean night. It is not a wine normally associated with Dorking, Surrey, in the London commuter belt, where a stiff gin and tonic is normally the drink of choice.
But now a wine with a smooth long creamy finish from grapes grown on the Surrey hillsides can lay claim to being arguably the best rosé in the world.
Denbies Chalk Ridge Rosé 2010 has beaten more than 360 challengers from 21 countries to claim the still rosé gold medal prize in the International Wine Challenge, the world's biggest and most influential wine competition.
The success of the Denbies wine counters the recent trend for English wine producers to concentrate on sparkling wines, which have scooped numerous awards around the world. Another IWC Gold award went to Chapel Down, based in Kent, whose wines were served at the Royal wedding, for its sparkling rosé Vintage Reserve Brut.
Although Denbies also produce sparkling wines, they have also refined their production of still whites and rosés to challenge the belief most English still wines are of only average quality. A Denbies white was recently chosen by Tesco for its "Finest" range.
The Chalk Ridge Rosé, refreshing and full of English summer fruits, is made from Rondo grapes, first planted in 2005 and believed well suited to the English climate because of their early ripening.
Christopher White, general manager of Denbies said the grapes had originally been grown for blending, but their quality convinced the vineyard to craft a wine entirely from the one crop. Only 7,000 bottles have been produced, which sell for £11.99.
Mr White added: "We have noticed a demand for premium still wines and this award reinforces the fact that English wine producers can and will continue to produce internationally recognised wine."
The sparkling rosé award for Chapel Down continues a winning streak for English sparkling wines using traditional champagne grapes and production techniques. Last autumn, Ridgeview wines in Sussex won the Decanter award for the best sparkling wine in the world. The Chapel Down Sparkling Rosé, priced at £25, is made from pinot noir grapes, one of the three traditional champagne varieties. Guy Tresnan, the sales and marketing manager said: "We are naturally very pleased with an award which shows that we can produce wines that England can be proud of."
Although their wines were widely reported as being served at the royal wedding, Chapel Down are prevented by convention from publicising the fact.
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