How the Boisset family of Burgundy helped bring Bride Valley Vineyard to life
Boisset and Bride Valley, a friendship with deep roots
When Bella bought Cross Tree Farm here in Dorset, back in the summer of 1987, I noticed there was a lot of chalk in the soil. I was still working in Paris at the time, so I put a couple of blocks of the stuff in my pocket and showed them to Michel Bettane, the top lecturer at my wine school, L’Academie du Vin. When I asked him where he thought they were from, he replied: ‘From Champagne, of course.’ When I told him they were from Dorset, he said: ‘In that case, you should plant a vineyard.’
Time passed and Nyetimber (English sparkling wine from West Sussex) won the Trophy of the International Wine and Spirit Competition in the 1990s, and a little over a decade later Ridgeview (also West Sussex) took top honours at the Decanter World Wine Awards.
Every day I walked our dog – first Bob, then Max – around the perimeter of the mostly south-facing farm, I looked down on the natural bowl of the Valley and thought how nice it would be to have vines there instead of sheep. But how could I make this dream become a reality? I knew exactly who I should ask.
I prepared a dossier of information on what other English vineyards had done and showed it to my dear friend Jean-Claude Boisset and his children Nathalie and Jean-Charles, over lunch at Bordeaux’s Vinexpo Fair (this was by now, June 2007.)
The Boissets, who own vineyards in Burgundy and more recently California, kindly sent out their top sparkling-wine man, Georges Legrand, and a vineyard expert to Cross Tree farm. They took soil samples and recorded the steepness of the slopes and then suggested which vines we should buy (from Pepinieres Guillaume, te supplier to Bollinger, Roederer, Pol Roger and others.) in order to make the greatest English sparkling wine yet.
Fast forward to March 2018 and Bride Valley 2014 Blanc de Blancs has just received in today’s Times a rave write-up from Jane MacQuitty: “Another beaut from Bride, this tongue-tingling, steely, zesty, preserved lemon of a chardonnay fizz is a must.” And we have recently shipped over four thousand bottles – our largest export yet – to the Boissett Collection in California, It’s fair to say that without the Boissets, Bride Valley may never have seen the light of day and for that we must say, merci.
For more information on the Boissets and their wineries, visit: www.boissetcollection.com