While most UK estates look to Reims and Epernay for inspiration, scaling their activities and ambitions to compete with the vast brands of the Marne, the focus at Danbury Ridge is directed toward grower Champagnes and the small domaines of Burgundy.
Now, just a few vintages into the project, and that early aspiration is being realised: Danbury Ridge is bottling wines that critics have already favourably compared to some of the finest addresses in Burgundy, Oregon and cool climate, New Zealand.
The first vines were planted in 2014 with an unwavering focus on still Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clones to exploit the unique mesoclimate. After just a few seasons the vines were producing grapes of a ripeness previously unseen in the UK.
The Octagon Block is the most established vineyard on the estate with an eclectic soil profile. Spanning over 12 acres, most of the vines sit on glaciofluvial sediments of sandy gravel, known as Danbury Gravel.
This wine expresses layers of zesty citrus aromas, honeysuckle and nougat. The palate is creamy and full bodied, showing a focused aciidty and well-integrated oak. The generous weight and long lingering finish lend to its status as a 888 wine.
"The 2018 Chardonnay Octagon Block unwinds in the glass with aromas of mandarin oil and pear mingled with notions of tropical fruit, blanched almonds and vanilla pod. Full-bodied, textural and layered, this is as ample and fleshy as the estate's regular Chardonnay, but it's more tightly wound and structural, with tangy acids and penetrating finish. Bottled under Diam 30 after 18 months in barrel, this is an ambitious English still wine that I suspect possesses upside potential.
Drink 2020 - 2033.
(William Kelley, The Wine Advocate, April 2021)