Sixteen Ridges - English Nouveau

Simon Day, winemaker and Production Director for the Sixteen Ridges range, is one of a handful of second generation English wine makers in the country, carrying on in the footsteps of his father.

With over 25 years’ experience making wine in England and abroad. Simon is known in the industry for his innovative approach to winemaking, and his commitment to ‘let the fruit do the talking’ ensuring minimal intervention in the winery. An award-winning cider maker too, Simon was the first to produce an ice cider in the UK, and more recently has been making innovative cider co-ferments with our Pinot Noir grape skins.

Simon Day and Hristo Yakovski in the vineyard. (photo credit: John Robertson, Waitrose)

The original idea for an English Nouveau came from a trade enquiry in 2019 which led to a small experimental batch being made for trade only sale.

“We have been supplying Waitrose for several years with our Signature Cuvee – traditional method white sparking. Our Waitrose wine buyer Marien is a great champion of English wines who is committed to support and showcase small innovative producers. Marien approached us in the spring of 2019 having read about our range, and tasted our Pinot Noir, she was really keen to build on our trial, to energise English red wine sales with a novel twist, and create a limited edition exclusive. We were of course delighted to take on the challenge”

In terms of production, our Nouveau is made using similar methods as used in France’s Beaujolais region; Traditionally red wine is made by de-stemming and crushing the grapes into a tank, and leaving the skins in contact with the juice through fermentation, which gives the wine structure and tannin, it then has a long, slow maturation period for 12 months or more. For this Nouveau style, we want to highlight the delicious fresh fruitiness, and reduce the tannins, this is done using small tanks into which whole bunches of grapes are placed into CO2 and undergo an intracellular fermentation for a short period of time – a process called carbonic maceration.  These fizzy grapes develop fruitiness and start to take on colour.  Once they reach around 2% alcohol, the berry drops off the bunch, and releases the juice. The wine then continues to ferment in a more conventional manner with yeast. We then press the grapes to yield a lovely fruity easy drinking light red wine.

In France this style of wine is produced using the grape variety Gamay, we used our Pinot Noir Early which ripens some 2 to 3 weeks earlier than standard Pinot Noir – this year we harvested in mid-September, one of our earliest recorded harvests to date, which yielded the prefect levels of ripeness with enough time to ferment for a November release.

The Sixteen Ridges “English Nouveau 2020” will be available from selected Waitrose stores across the UK, and on the from the 19th November.