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English sparklers scoop award as Ronay says ‘it’s Champagne’

The RidgeView Merret range of English sparkling wines has been awarded the top prize at Egon Ronay’s British Academy of Gastronomes awards – the first time an English wine has been so recognised.

Awarded annually, the Grand Prix of Gastronomy honours a UK-based person, venture or product that has ‘done the most for gastronomy’ that year.

‘The Academy requested samples, and we sent them but we weren’t really sure what it was all about,’ said Mardi Roberts, RidgeView’s sales and marketing manager.

‘A couple of weeks later, Egon Ronay called us himself to tell us we’d won.’

The trophy was presented last night to Michael Roberts by Ronay, 92, at London’s Dorchester Hotel. He said the sparkling wine deserved to be called Champagne.

‘We decided to give the award to RidgeView because we felt they have produced not only a high quality sparkling wine, but an excellent Champagne,’ Ronay told decanter.com. ‘The fact that they cannot call it Champagne is an absurdity and I take great issue with this silly rule.’

Previous winners include cookery writer Jane Grigson, restaurateurs Albert and Michel Roux, and HRH Prince Charles for reviving mutton.

RidgeView, in the Sussex Downs, was founded in 1994 and produces sparkling wines that have won a plethora of national and international accolades, consistently gaining medal at all previous Decanter World Wine Awards.

The British Academy of Gastronomes was launched in 1983 to encourage the improvement of the standard of food and beverages in the UK and Ireland.

Written by Maggie Rosen

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