Natural Wines at Lympstone Manor

By Marc Millon – Wine, Food and Travel Writer.

Lympstone Manor hosted a fascinating and enjoyable Natural Wine Dinner in the Pool House on 7th February, an evening that showcased both the precision and purity of wines made with minimal intervention as well as the precision of a considered menu prepared by Michael, Head Chef Jordan Denning, and the kitchen team. The evening was hosted by Edouard Oger, Master Sommelier, who has worked with Michael over the past 16 years, originally at Gidleigh Park, and now as a wine consultant specialising in natural wines.

The term ‘natural wines’, Edouard explained, can cover a broad spectrum of styles, tastes and qualities but the common theme is that these are all wines made with minimal intervention, possibly but not necessarily following organic or biodynamic, principles, and almost always eschewing the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers, and using minimal or no added sulphites. Fermentation is with the indigenous yeasts present on the bloom of the grapes, often such wines are stabilised by cold (simply transferring the wine to a tank outside in winter), and wines are usually unfiltered and so may present either a bottle sediment or else be cloudy.

While natural wines can be thought of as sometimes being quirky, funky, off-beat, or unusual, the best wines, Edouard explained, are noted not so much for being noticeably different to conventional wines but above all for their purity, energy, vibrancy, and precision.

The evening began with an aperitif of Lympstone Manor Estate Classic Cuvée. While we don’t claim that this is a natural wine (our climatic conditions are such that this is not possible), it is nonetheless crafted with the utmost care and respect for the environment as well as with only the most necessary interventions in the winemaking process.  We believe, too, that Classic Cuvée shares those same qualities extolled by Edouard: purity, energy, vibrancy and precision. The evening then followed with a Vermentino from the South of France, Le Vent dans les Voiles Blanc, which partnered a local sea bream ceviche, the raw fish absolutely sea-fresh, the wine razor sharp and precise. Rosato di Ampeleia from the Tuscan seaboard, produced from an unusual blend of Alicante Nero and Carignano, paired well with a chicken and smoked ham hock terrine. The star pairing of the evening for me was a young, unoaked Rioja from Olivier Rivière which had the most beautiful and clean purity of fruit, electrifying alongside a confit duck and fennel risotto. To finish Muscat de Rivesaltes Les Enfants Sauvages, opulent on the nose, not overly sweet, was a perfect partner to a just wobbly coconut pannacotta.

“What this small and carefully curated selection clearly demonstrated is that a natural, minimal intervention approach to growing grapes and making wine can yield outstanding results of the highest quality, wines that naturally pair well with Michael’s style of cuisine,” says Steve Edwards, Lympstone Manor’s Operations Director. “The popularity of the evening and the reception that the wines received is also an indication that so-called ‘natural wines’, perhaps once considered more off-beat, are now widely appreciated. Certainly, the best of such wines will continue to feature on the Lympstone Manor wine list and we will serve them with pride, knowing that with the right food paring they can really enhance a dining experience. If you haven’t tried natural wines yet, we urge you to do so. A great evening, well done to the whole team.”

Find out more about wine events at Lympstone Manor including wine dinners in the Pool House, vineyard tours with lunch, and more on the Lympstone Manor Events web page and visit our wine shop to find out more about our estate wines.

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