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.
A red wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. Pinot Noir is notoriously difficult to cultivate due to its exacting soil requirements and sensitivity to wind and frost. Few places in the world are able to grow Pinot Noir successfully and in most cases the grape is used as a base for sparkling wine. However, the exceptional quality and unrivalled sugar content of Pinot Noir grapes grown on the Danbury Wine Estate means that award-winning still wines have been produced.
The inaugural 888 wine made exclusively from the finest Pinot Noir parcels in the Octagon vineyard on the Danbury Ridge Estate. It has wonderful autumnal aromatic layers of bramble fruits with cherries and blackberries. The palate has a tight acidity, elegantly balanced with fine tannins and a rich earthiness.
"From their oldest vineyard, planted on London clay in 2014 with two-thirds Pinot Noir, plus Chardonnay and a little Pinot Meunier. pH 3.49, TA 5.4 g/l. Aged in French oak barrels for 18 months. 888 bottles produced.
Transparent ruby-garnet. Attractive nose of violets and mushrooms. Very Pinot! Definitely more depth and better balance than the regular bottling, and it should age better too. I can see why they want to give it a bit more bottle age – it's still a little chewy – but it should make a very attractive bottle by the autumn. Drink 2021 - 2026.
(Jancis Robinson, JR Purple Pages, February 2021)