A particular favourite of ours, Sussex sparkling wine at its best. Ambriel is owned and run by Charles and Wendy Outhwaite. Their Traditional Method, English Sparkling Wine is made only with their own grapes. They are fiercely proud of their rigorous control over the wine-making process from grape to glass. The grapes are hand-picked and go straight into the boutique winery in the middle of the vineyard. The grapes are gently whole-bunch pressed – with each clone being pressed separately – and then vinified in stainless steel temperature-controlled tanks to maximise their fruit flavours and aromas. Sometimes they mature wine in aged white burgundy oak barrels to lend complexity and softness. Blending is at the heart of a great English Sparkling Wine and their philosophy is to create wines which reflect the best characteristics of the terroir and the climate of a particular vintage. Their 9.5Ha (23 acres) of vineyards in West Sussex are planted on rare Greensand – which they believe to be the terroir of choice in England. This sedimentary bedrock was formed about 113 to 126 million years ago in the Cretaceous Period when the area was covered by shallow seas. Greensand is free-draining – which is useful in a country renowned for the occasional rain shower. The underlying Greensand rock both stores heat to keep the vineyard warm, and reflects heat to help ripen the grapes.