In the run up to Fizz Feast we have a series of Fizz Feast Taster blogs each telling the story about one of our fabulous exhibitors, to give you a flavour of the treats in store on Saturday 17 November.
Today’s Fizz Feast Taster is all about Ambriel – not only a lovely family run wine producer but also a producer of some stunning English Sparkling Wine. As Ambriel themselves say “Our motto ‘Non Angli sed Angeli’ – ‘not English, but Angels’ – was Pope Gregory’s exclamation when discovering English children for sale in a Roman slave market. Similarly our fine fizz is distinctly English and tastes divine. Without being too John Bull-ish, its the perfect sip for your stiff upper lip.” It says it all really and I’d wholeheartedly agree.
There’s so much to say about Ambriel it’s difficult to know where to begin. So maybe best to start towards the beginning but the story ought to come with a few warnings. Ambriel is owned and run by Charles and Wendy Outhwaite. Charles’ creative talents in the drinks industry began at school where he brewed beer in his wastepaper bin. Thankfully any escaping aromas were disguised by his enthusiastic study mate who used to cook sausages using the live wires from an electrical socket. Perhaps that’s where the sparkling interest originated too! Wendy meanwhile, sensibly, spent her early career at the Bar and happily moved to a different type of bar.
It took five years of searching hard for the couple to find the perfect location. The home of Ambriel is in West Sussex, overlooking the South Downs. The vineyards here are unique consisting of greensand which offers excellent drainage and below this lies greensand rock which retains the heat perfectly for the vines to thrive.
Most of the vineyard work is meticulously done by hand with the utmost care and all the grapes used to produce this fabulous sparkling wine are proudly grown on the estate. This is where the winery is too so the first time the wine leaves Ambriel is on the way to you. If you’d like to see just how meticulously the work is done, then just click through to the video on their website
No insecticides are used in the vineyard, instead plenty of organic and natural practices are used. This includes a flock of ouessants – the smallest sheep in the world which graze between vines in the winter. Golden Guernsey goats also enjoy browsing the hedges. Both the sheep and the goats help to fertilise the soil and keep it in a natural state. In the centre of the vineyard is a beautiful natural wildflower meadow which encourages a host of insects and wildlife, particularly ladybirds, lacewings and earwigs. These all help to reduce unwanted pests such as green fly.
The range consists of a Classic Cuvée, a Blanc de Blancs using 100% Chardonnay and aged for 5½ years on the lees. There’s also an excellent Rosé which uses Chardonnay and the other traditional variety, Pinot Noir and the English Reserve is a delicious Demi-Sec sparkling. Not to be missed of course is the ideal wine for Christmas – the Classic Cuvée 2010 Magnum. All these wines are now internationally and multi-award winning and you’ll just have to come and taste them for yourself at Fizz Feast to find out more! Wendy and Charles will look forward to seeing you.
Fizz Feast is a true Celebration of Sparkling Wine & Artisan Food being held on Saturday 17 November at The Edinburgh Academy on Henderson Row. There are two sessions to choose from 12-3pm and 4-7pm.
Tickets are available from £22.50 and Masterclasses are from a modest £5. Find out more.
Keep an eye out for a flavour of another Fizz Feast exhibitor in the next Fizz Feast Taster blog coming soon.