A Passion for Wine Summer 2018 Vol. 2
Since the first edition of A Passion for Wine, was published in March, a great deal has happened. Most notably and obviously, the Lympstone Manor vineyard was finally planted in May (the delay was due to the surprisingly cold and inclement weather of April). With some 17,500 vines now safely planted in the red Devon earth of the estate, my dream of one day sitting out on the terrace sipping a flûte of our own Lympstone Manor Cuvée is tantalisingly closer than ever. Please read about the Festival of Planting weekend on our news page, and follow James Matyear, our Vineyard Manager’s, Vineyard Notes below.
In our‘Wine Talk’ feature this edition, Steve Edwards looks closely at the trio of grapes that we have planted, the classic varietals of Champagne: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier. What will each of these three grape varieties bring to our Cuvée, the final blend, and what are some of the risks inherent in growing each? Steve explains all.
Meanwhile, our Wine Events at Lympstone Manor continue as we look forward to the Charles Heidseick Champagne Dinner, and to our October and November months of Burgundy and Bordeaux.
Marko Mägi, our Head Sommelier, offers some inspiring tasting notes for some of the fabulous and exciting wines that match so well with my summer menus.
Wine, it’s an essential element of the Lympstone Manor experience. I look forward to raising a glass with you soon – Michael Caines, chef/patron.
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; James Matyear, Vineyard Manager; and Marc Millon, Editorial Director and wine, food and travel author.
Wine Talk – Classic Champagne varietals by Steve Edwards
In our first edition of A Passion for Wine, I gave a very brief overview on the history of the now burgeoning English wine industry. This time I would like to focus on the specific grape types that we will be using to produce wine here at Lympstone Manor. The Lympstone Manor single vineyard, 9.4 acres in size, has been planted with the three varietals used to produce sparkling wines in Champagne in the following proportions: 50% Pinot Noir, 30% Chardonnay and 20% Meunier. Each varietal will give something quite unique to the finished wine in relation to its style and overall flavour profile, the reason why most Champagnes are a blend of all of these grapes. In Champagne the proportion of grapes planted across the region is dominated by Pinot Noir at 38% followed by Meunier at 32% and finally Chardonnay at 30%. The Champenoise are able to produce a variety of styles using either single varietals, or sometimes utilising a blend of two or all three.
For a standard non-vintage cuvée the grapes tend to contribute in the following manner:
Pinot Noir – adds weight and structure in addition to a complexity of flavours. It is the Pinot Noir that adds backbone and body to the blend, producing wines with distinctive aromas of red berries. Pinot Noir is not an easy variety to cultivate and make into wine. It produces tightly packed, thin-skinned bunches that are susceptible to disease and require diligent canopy management by the team. Sometimes in Champagne it is produced as a single varietal or with Meunier which would then carry the classification of Blanc de Noirs (a white sparkling wine made from black grapes).
Meunier – contributes floral notes and a depth of fruitiness. The Meunier is very useful as it tends to both bud later and ripeness is reached earlier than the other two grapes which means it is less effected by frost damage and adverse weather conditions in the autumn. However it does not have the longevity of either Pinot Noir or Chardonnay and Champagne houses do not use it in their prestige cuvées favouring the Pinot Noir and Chardonnay which for the top wines are usually always cellared for many years before release.
Chardonnay – gives the wine lovely freshness as well as finesse. Although Chardonnay is a late ripening grape and can be difficult to cultivate, it is a major component in the blend and the reason why many Champagne houses make the decision to produce a single varietal from just the Chardonnay in isolation and which in Champagne is classified as Blanc de Blancs. Blanc de Blancs only account for around 5% of the total Champagne production, but can be amongst the most elegant, as in our own-label Michael Caines Champagne, an excellent example.
While a quality sparkling wine is at the forefront in terms of what we will aim to produce here at Lympstone Manor, we will not rule out the opportunity to make still wines from these grapes when the vintage allows. This will largely depend on the quality of both the growing season in years to come in addition to the quality of the fruit that our vines bear.
Over the next months, we will be undertaking a benchmark tasting of a number of the most acclaimed English sparkling wines in order to identify the style that we think is achievable here at Lympstone Manor.
the vineyard with James Matyear
May 6th, 2018 marked the start of an incredible adventure for Lympstone Manor. After many years left as pasture, the estate’s parkland was transformed and rejuvenated to the graceful slopes of the vineyard that we can now see before us. The vineyard sits facing a south westerly direction, in a prime location overlooking the calm of the Exe estuary. At fifteen meters above sea level, protected by the estate’s woodland below, the vineyard soaks up a favourable microclimate that is wholly unique.
After a wet start to the year, and temperatures below average for the UK, we were blessed over the planting period with perfect conditions of blue skies, and a warm gentle breeze, with temperatures being the highest on record. Prior to planting, much time and preparation had gone into the matching of the correct root stock and clones for our situation. It then took only one and a half days to plant 17,500 Pinot Noir, Meunier and Chardonnay vines by a team of three of us under the guidance of myself and Duncan McNeill. We used a single row planter with GPS tracking to undertake the job at hand. With the ability to plant up to eleven thousand vines per day with millimetre precision, this provided a fast, accurate and reduced stress transition from bare root to soil.
All that is left now is to finalise the trellising and for the vines to awaken. The trellis consists of 3600 metal intermediate posts, and 260 wooden end posts. There will be a single fixed fruiting wire, and six movable foliage wires per row. Each vine now has a stake, rabbit guard and clip to hold it in place.
It will take a full five years before we will be able to toast the success of this venture with the first flûte of Lympstone Manor Cuvée. With planting now all but completed, the vineyard clock has begun! The winding pathway that once meandered through the long grass of the field has now been reinstated with a gentle curve, providing a walkway that leads to the very heart of the vineyard. It is a real privilege to be a part of Michael’s dream, and I look forward to the fun and adventure of things to come.
Wine events at Lympstone Manor are always very special occasions. They give the opportunity for our wine loving guests to meet wine producers and their representatives and to gain a rare and privileged insight not only into a range of always fascinating and fabulous wines but also into a region or country, its culture and cuisine.
We take the greatest pride on the careful matching of Michael’s considered cuisine with the best wines to complement them. Before any wine lunch or dinner, Michael will sit down with Steve and Marko to discuss and taste wines in order to devise and create a special menu that will perfectly match the wines that will be showcased. In this way, both the wines as well as the cuisine are able to be enjoyed at their very best.
Tasting, learning, enjoying: that in essence is what wine events at Lympstone Manor are all about. We look forward to seeing you at a wine event soon.
25th July Charles Heidsieck Champagne Dinner
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, Haut Brion as well as wines such as Pétrus in Pomerol 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 both 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
“I hope you enjoy reading the notes below: better still, I hope you visit Lympstone Manor to enjoy the wonderful wines and foods that we have matched together.”
This wine is made by the legendary Yvonne Hegoboru, the 92 year old winemaker and owner of Domaine de Souch. Biodynamic farming, rigorous work all year long, manual harvesting and low yields are making a dry Jurançon with intensity and purity which I have never seen in a wine from this region.
Ripe gooseberry and white stonefruit aroma with a structured mouthfeel complimented by an enormous amount of pure freshness and a dry, green apple finish.
The wine is paired with Lyme Bay mackerel, gooseberry relish and English mustard mayonnaise. Mackerel is one of the most difficult pairings for the wine as it demands both richness and freshness and this wine is in our list especially for this dish.
£13.50 by the glass/£76 by the bottle
Manni Nössing is one of the most talented winemakers in Italy and makes fresh, pure and well textured wines from Alto Adige. His Grüner Veltliner has classical varietal characteristics for this grape with its ripe pear fruit, lime peel and white pepper aftertaste, but is incredibly expressive and has great purity of fruit.
This wine is perfectly paired with Michael’s Brixham scallop dish with tapenade, aubergine and tomato vinaigrette.
£13.50 by the glass/£76 by the bottle
Such a classical terroir-driven dry Alsace Riesling! Petrol, white blossoms, ripe stone fruits, ripe lemon citrus, such elegant and refined acidity that gives the wine a beautiful long backbone, rich in texture with racy minerality. The 2015 vintage of this wine is available only at Lympstone Manor.
This Riesling is paired with Fricassee of Exmouth Lobster, summer vegetables and herbs. The wine has just enough fruit character to compliment the natural sweetness of the lobster and the sweetness of summer vegetables, and is equally as luscious and giving as this fantastic seasonal dish.
£15.00 by the glass/£86 by the bottle
Red wine from Champagne- that’s right! Coteaux Champenois is an appellation for still wines in the Champagne region and only handful of Champagne producers are making this wine for sale. The owners of Gremillet like our passion for still wines and we are lucky enough to get a substantial part of their extremely limited production to showcase this wine with our summer menu and, again, we are the only restaurant in England to list it.
It is so well made: orange marmalade, wild strawberry jam with tart cherries are the principle aromas. elegant and silky, light but layered and long, it has a unique freshness and chalky aftertaste that gives away its sense of place.
This wine is paired with Cornish duckling, orange braised chicory, anise and orange scented jus. A special wine for a very special food pairing.
£17.50 by the glass/£105 by the bottle
This wine has literally been ‘love at first taste’ for us, mainly because it is the purest and most expressive version of true Sangiovese we have ever tasted. It is like seeing Sangiovese in high definition for the very first time.
Classical Sangiovese red fruits, firm yet refined tannins, freshness that knows how to keep the wine clean without feeling harsh, still earthy with black olives and provençal vegetable flavours and aromas, and all of that with such fruit purity!
The wine is paired with Herb-crusted Devon lamb, smoked aubergine purée, ratatouille and thyme jus. It is simply just delicious!
£15.50 by the glass/£88 by the bottle
On our Spring menu, one of our favourite dessert wines was the 2005 Vouvray Moelleux, Domaine Pichot, Le Marigny paired with our exotic fruit salad pre-dessert which we served as part of our Estuary menu.
With the Summer menu we decided to make the pairing even more interesting and introduced an apple pre-dessert for our Signature Menu. We have sourced the freshest vintage of the same wine to showcase how this beautiful dessert wine is at its youngest stage in addition for customers to see how it has progressed in more than a decade.
The 2016 vintage of this wine is so vibrantly fresh, with just a very gentle sweetness, but with immensely pure apple flavours.
This wine is paired with and feels tailor-made for the apple pre-dessert
Both 2016 and 2005 wines available for £14.50 by the glass/£86 by the bottle