A Passion For Wine – Spring 2018
Wine Talk – English Wines By Steve Edwards
There has been vineyard cultivation and winemaking in Britain at several different stages since the Roman occupation in the 1st century and whilst production has been very limited there were vineyards attached to monasteries particularly in the south of England up until the Middle Ages. Moving forward to the 20th century, Ray Brock, Edward Hyams and George Ordish have been widely accredited for the resurgence of vineyards within the UK due to their research, publications and a focused approach on cultivation in the 1940s and 50s. The first commercial vineyard was planted in England at Hambledon in Hampshire in 1951 by Major-General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones which was undoubtedly a turning point for the UK wine industry.
Whilst the overall quality of the wines produced in those early days saw success and failure in equal measure, much has changed particularly in recent decades where we have seen a marked improvement in both the wine quality and a much greater understanding of which grape types are actually suited to the current UK climate and geography. One of the big success stories is with bottle fermented sparkling wines which will be our main focus here at Lympstone Manor.
The consumer preference for light, fruit driven Germanic styles in the 70s and 80s has moved towards the demand for drier styles. In relation to sparkling wine, producers here were using the grapes already cultivated here for that purpose and properties such as Camel Valley in Cornwall and Chapel Down in Kent made good examples from both traditional and non- traditional varieties. Since then vineyards such as Nyetimber and Ridgeview in West Sussex have planted solely with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, the grape varietals found in Champagne. It is our intention here at Lympstone Manor to plant these classic varietals we do believe that these grapes, blended into a cuvée, are capable of producing the greatest sparkling wines in the world. We are hugely excited by the opportunity and the possibility to produce a quality single-estate sparkling wine here on the Exe Estuary. The quality of a number of English wineries has now been recognised at both a national and international level and many have won many awards for their wines. Currently around 15% of all production in the UK is sparkling wine but this is rapidly increasing as the demand for this style of wine becomes more and more popular.
The Vineyard Year with James Matyear
The parkland below Lympstone Manor is the site of the vineyard, a gentle southwest-facing slope that rises some 10 metres above the beautiful Exe estuary itself. The soil consists of clay to sandy loam, followed by a layer of mudstone and sandstone, with a sedimentary bedrock that was formed 250 million years ago during the Triassic period. The climate is mild here, and we’ve been delighted to discover, in fact, that the microclimate of this particular corner falls within the top 5% in the entire country, which should bode well for the grapes.
To reach this stage of readiness for planting, considerable work has already been carried out. Soil analysis gave us an indication of present and available nutrition. We then had to plan the vineyard in order to establish the number of vines required, determine the amount of trellising, and consider the best orientation to maximise available sunlight. Last October we spread 25 tons of lime to increase the soil PH as well as 8 tons of organic chicken compost to increase organic matter and nutrition. In November, we subsoiled to break up the ground in preparation for final ploughing, the turning of the soil to allow it to break down over winter. Now we’re ready for the final push, the planting of 18,000 Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay vines in April.
The sharing of beautifully matched wines with Michael’s cuisine is what we like to do best of all, and if we can talk about it, even better.
Our program of Wine Events enables us to just that. Wine lunches and dinners are usually hosted by a producer him or herself or by their representative. Before the event, Michael and his chefs consider a menu that will perfectly match the wines in order to make such events truly special, memorable and above all enjoyable. Wine is serious but it must also always be enjoyable.
Here are a couple of examples that are coming soon:
- 22 May Nyetimber Wine Dinner — Nyetimber make just the sort of English sparkling wines that we will aspire to both in terms of style and quality. The vineyard, located on the South Downs of West Sussex, was established some 30 years ago, planted with the exact same grapes that we ourselves will soon be putting into the ground: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay, the classic grapes that across the Channel are used exclusively to produce Champagne. This special evening will enable us to savour these fine English sparkling wines that have won so many awards as well as to see how well their elegant and refined tastes match with Michael’s elegant and refined cuisine.
- 25 July Charles Heidsieck Champagne Dinner — For those who love Champagne (and who doesn’t?), we are delighted to host a very special Champagne dinner with a grande maison that we already work very closely with. Charles Heidsieck is one of the region’s most notable houses. Located in Reims, the capital of Champagne, their cellars are situated in ancient crayères – extensive subterranean caves carved out of the same soft bedrock of chalk that nourishes the vines. Here, in some 8km of crayères, literally millions of bottles of Champagne lie patiently ageing. During our Champagne dinner hosted by Willem Pinçon, we will have the rare opportunity to taste some of these very special Champagnes brought over especially for the occasion, accompanied by a fresh and equally exhilarating summer menu devised and created by Michael. Another very special evening to look forward to!
October and November, months of wine
Our months of wine — Burgundy in October and Bordeaux in November — provide us with something different: the opportunity to explore two of the greatest wine regions in the world in considerable depth and at leisure throughout each month. Burgundy comes first, a region that Michael knows and loves well from his formative time at the 3-star Michelin Côte d’Or in Saulieu. Burgundy, of course, is famous for its classic barrel-fermented whites produced from the Chardonnay grape in Chablis, Meursault, Montrachet and elsewhere, as well as its silky and voluptuous Pinot Noir reds from Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-St-Georges, Volnay, Pommard and a host of others. Bordeaux, say some, is the greatest vineyard in the world not only for the fame and quality of its greatest wines — premiers crus classés wines such as Mouton-Rothschild, Lafite, Latour, Margaux as well as wines such as Pétrus in Pommard and Cheval Blanc in St-Emilion — but also for its variety in type and style. For Bordeaux is the source not only of some of the greatest (and most expensive) wines in the world, it is shares a plethora of accessible whites and reds of all quality levels from a vast vineyard. Furthermore, Bordeaux produces the most luscious and wondrous sweet dessert wines from Sauternes and Barsac,unique wines made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc and Muscadelle grapes that have been affected by pourriture noble (noble rot or Botrytis cinerea) which concentrates flavour, texture and lends concentrated, honeyed, haunting aromas.
Our months of wine will allow us to explore these two great French wine regions in depth and variety, and to present both more accessible examples alongside wines of the very highest quality. There will be a Burgundy Wine Dinner on October 10th and a Bordeaux Wine Dinner on November 1st. Throughout the months, we will be offering a representative selection of wines from each respective region, including examples of true world class quality and stature. We can’t wait to share our cellar with you!
Wine Notes by Marko Mägi, Head Sommelier
One of the most pleasurable aspects of my job here at Lympstone Manor,” says Marko, “is the regular opportunity to taste fine wines from our cellar along with Steve and Michael. Not only are we able to chart how the wines are evolving, we can discuss the various elements of each dish and how any given wine will complement and enhance the complete dining experience. I hope you enjoy reading the notes below: better still, I hope you enjoy the wonderful wines and foods that we have matched together.
2015 Chenin Blanc, Ken Forrester, FMC, Stellenbosch – Roasted Brixham scallop with soused cauliflower, cauliflower and truffle purée, raisin purée and cumin foam
Legendary winemaking from Ken Forrester and Martin Meinert: this is rich and elegant Chenin Blanc. It has the classical Chenin Blanc baked apple character, and also dried apricot, honey, orange peel, with cooking spices in the aftertaste. The wine has enough richness to match the robustly flavoured purée while still subtle enough to appreciate the scallop as the star of the dish.
Bottle £76.00 Glass £13.50
2014 Meursault, Henri Boillot, Burgundy – Braised turbot with wild mushrooms, spinach, Oscietra caviar, truffle butter sauce
This a benchmark Meursault. It is rich, creamy, yet so fresh and what pure racy minerality! Luscious ripe yellow stonefruits, ripe lemon, hazelnuts, mushrooms. With Michael’s complex turbot dish we need a wine that is very rich and structured, fresh, mineral and that has a prominent fruit profile – which is difficult to achieve in one wine but this Meursault has it all and in perfect balance.
Bottle £120.00 Glass £20.00
2014 Pinot Noir, Chacra 55, Patagonia – Slow cooked partridge with quince purée, raisins, and game sauce with Gewürztraminer
What a find for us, we fell in love after the first taste! This Pinot Noir is from a single vineyard where the vines were planted in 1955 and with original root stock which extract maximum flavour from the soil. Lovely berry aromas with some savoury notes, very mineral palate and layered fruit profile from wild strawberries to tart black cherries to dried rose petals to fresh cranberries, quite firm but silky tannins, fresh acidity. Very versatile food companion that we like to pair with our partridge which doesn’t like a wine with lots of tannin, but it needs big flavours. This wine is earthy enough for the core ingredient but it’s beautiful ripe fruit character also works in harmony with the additional elements on the plate.
Bottle £98.00 Glass £17.00
2013 Margaux du Chateau Margaux – Fillet of Darts Farm beef with horseradish and shallot confit, celeriac purée, mushrooms, beef cheek and red wine sauce
This is a very special and very limited wine produced by one of Bordeaux’s iconic properties, Château Margaux. It is a wonderful expression of Margaux with a high proportion of Merlot next to the Cabernet Sauvignon in addition to a little Petit Verdot and Cabernet Franc. It has seductive aromas of blackcurrant, red plum, delicate black pepper, a silky texture on the palate, great finesse and long persistent aftertaste. This classic beef dish from Michael’s repertoire deserves just such a full-bodied wine as this which oozes class and distinction.
Bottle £120.00 Glass £20.00
2005 Vouvray Moelleux, Domaine Pichot, Le Marigny, Loire – Exotic fruit salad, passion fruit sorbet and spiced pineapple
This is a wine that we received straight from the property because we are such big fans of this great vintage and it is only available at Lympstone Manor. The 2005 is a vintage that is very high both in freshness and in fruit. It has classic baked apple and exotic fruit salad aromas, candied orange peel, fresh pineapple. Sometimes in life — although very rarely — you are lucky enough as a Sommelier to taste a wine and immediately think of a specific dish that will pair exactly and this is one such dish: it really is the perfect match!
Bottle £86.00 Glass £14.50
2016 Moscato Rosa, Franz Haas, Alto Adige – White chocolate candle, rose infused chocolate, raspberry sorbet
This is a wine that Michael discovered while on a wine trip in the north of Italy. The winery is in a stunning location within the foothills of the Alps. This wine has pure character of rosewater, raspberries and unique freshness. The flavour combination was so new and so exiting to Michael that he decided immediately to create a dessert with similar flavours to match it and the white chocolate candle was born!
Bottle £66.00 Glass £22.00
About A Passion for Wine — This wine blog is conceived, written and edited by Steve Edwards, Operations Director at Lympstone Manor; Marko Mägi, Head Sommelier; and Marc Millon, Editorial Director and wine, food and travel writer.