Sussex has marked its 25th year as a sparkling wine region by being named as the best quality producing county in the UK.

Six of the top 12 bottles in the country hail from Sussex with wine experts drawing comparisons to the world-renowned Champagne region in France.

Specialist wine magazine Decanter has compiled the rankings as part of their May issue.

The number one wine, scoring a staggering 93 out of 100 with the judges, is Ridgeview’s 2009 Grosvenor.

Second and third place also hail from the county with Henners 2009 Vintage Brut followed by Plumpton Estate’s The Dean.

Mardi Roberts, who works at the Ridgeview’s Fragbarrow Lane, Ditchling Common, vineyard, said that Sussex was perfect for sparkling wine.

She added: “Sparkling is a cool climate wine so Sussex is perfect.

“The Champagne region is the most well known in France and also the most northerly. So the climate is very important.

“The acidity is also essential and the soil and weather in Sussex makes for a fantastic sparkling wine.”

Toast of wine circle

Toast of UK In the 1980s, England was something of a laughing stock of the wine world.

But in 1988, two Americans in Stuart and Sandy Moss planted a number of varieties at the Nyetimber Estate.

Over the 25 years since, various different producers have started up across the county making Sussex the toast of the UK wine circle.

Ridgeview first planted in 1994 and finally started selling in 2000.

The family-run business now produces some 250,000 to 300,000 bottles a year and stock some of the best restaurants in the world.

Further excellence

Ms Roberts added: “We’ve just had the sommelier over from Quay restaurant in Sydney. They love our wines. Twenty per cent of our produce is now exported.”

The other Sussex sparkling wines to make the top 12 include the Bolney Wine Estate’s 2009 Cuvee Rose, Henners 2010 Rose, Nyetimber’s Classic Cuvee and Plumpton Estate’s The Dean Blush.

Richard Hemming, one of Decanter’s expert testers, said that the potential for further excellence was on display across the southern counties.

He said: “Other than Champagne, I don’t think there’s any other region which is focused on quality sparkling wine and achieving it outside of England.”

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