About this WINE
Ambriel is run by former barrister and QC Wendy Outhwaite, and her husband Charles. The Redfold vineyard is nestled on sunny south-facing slopes overlooking the South Downs in West Sussex, where their flock of sheep, goats and geese graze between the vines throughout the winter months. They work with classic Champagne varieties and specific Burgundian clones, planted on free-draining green sandstone soils.
All their wines are produced exclusively with estate-grown fruit. Wendy and Charles describe their wines as “unapologetically English”, with lower alcohol than many other traditional-method sparkling wines and an inherent freshness, both balanced by extended time on lees and cork, and later harvest dates.
Which grapes are included in the blend, and their proportion, is one of the key factors determining the style of most Champagnes. Three grapes are used - Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier.
26% of vineyards in Champagne are planted with Chardonnay and it performs best on the Côtes des Blancs and on the chalk slopes south of Epernay. It is relatively simple to grow, although it buds early and thus is susceptible to spring frosts. It produces lighter, fresher wines than those from Burgundy and gives finesse, fruit and elegance to the final blend. It is the sole grape in Blancs de Blancs, which are some of the richest long-lived Champagnes produced.
Pinot Noir accounts for nearly 40% of the plantings in Champagne and lies at the heart of most blends - it gives Champagne its body, structure, strength and grip. It is planted across Champagne and particularly so in the southern Aube district.
The final component is Pinot Meunier and this constitutes nearly 35% of the plantings. Its durability and resistance to spring frosts make the Marne Valley, a notorious frost pocket, its natural home. It ripens well in poor years and produces a soft, fruity style of wine that is ideal for blending with the more assertive flavours of Pinot Noir. Producers allege that Pinot Meunier lacks ageing potential, but this does not deter Krug from including around 15% of it in their final blends.