A thoroughly English cocktail: Richard Esling May 11

This week sees World Cocktail Day, a great excuse if ever you needed one, to try out a new cocktail recipe.

Sacred English spritz SUS-211005-121439001
Sacred English spritz SUS-211005-121439001

Ridgeview Estate, based near Ditchling in the South Downs, has come-up with just what is needed, in the Sacred English Spritz. Made entirely from English products – except perhaps the orange garnish – this is a refreshing, long cocktail, perfect for warmer spring days and the coming summertime, outdoors or in.

Ridgeview Wine Estate is one of the largest producers of English sparkling wines and in my mind certainly one of the best. Their first vineyards were planted more than 25 years ago, one of the pioneers of the new English sparkling wine industry. 2020 was set to be full of celebrations for the 25th Anniversary, but for obvious reasons, all had to be cancelled. Nevertheless, work carried on at the Estate and Ridgeview’s second winery opened on site.

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With annual production of 400,000 bottles, the second winery gives capacity for a million bottles in underground cellars and the third winery is already under construction. Still owning the original vineyards, production capacity is increased by obtaining grapes grown in other vineyards around Sussex, supplied on a contract basis. Using the same business model as many of the champagne houses, this gives great flexibility, together with the ability to source the best quality grapes.

Top quality sparkling wine made by the traditional method as in champagne, is almost always a blend of wines, whether it be different grape varieties, different aged wines (as with non-vintage) or wines from different vineyards, plots or even vine clones. The sum of the parts is better than the parts individually, with greater balance, complexity of flavour and character built in.

Happily, Ridgeview’s vines were not affected by the hard, late frosts which ravaged France a couple of weeks back, since the vines were still dormant. Brexit, however, has had a detrimental effect on exports and an increase in costs of production, since much equipment is imported from Europe.

Teaming up with the Sacred Distillery in Highgate, London, the new Spritz Cocktail was born – a refreshing combination of first-class English sparkling wine with Sacred Rosehip Cup, an all-natural gently bitter aperitif made with English rosehips, rhubarb, sweet Spanish orange, organic Peruvian ginger, and naturally coloured with red grape skins. With both companies focussing entirely on quality, an interesting and sophisticated cocktail is produced, with a combination of Ridgeview Cavendish, Sacred Rosehip Cup, a splash of soda, ice and a garnish of fresh or dried orange slices – The Sacred English Spritz. The flavour has an unmistakeable bitter finish but is balanced by the fruit and addition of elegant sparkling wine, to produce a refreshing cocktail with hints of English hedgerows.

Always at the forefront of new ideas, the cocktail kit including a full bottle of Ridgeview Cavendish and Sacred Rosehip Cup is available on next day delivery from Ridgeview, on offer at present for £45. Perfect for picnics with friends, parties in the garden or lazy summer evenings on the terrace.