ENGLISH SPARKLING WINE FROM LANGHAM WINE ESTATE
The roses planted at the end of each carefully manicured, pristine row of trellised vines may well have been there to keep the plough horses from damaging the precious grapes as they turned to go back from whence they’d come, as our guide Caroline intimated. Though wet, the flowers were blooming and they further emphasised the beauty of the rolling green hills and indeed, vineyards, of Dorset.
Langham Wine Estate (www.langhamwine.co.uk) is one of the English Sparkling Wine producers who are making people think again, when it comes to English wine in general, and certainly, English Fizz. Langham’s is the brainchild of Justin Langham, whose working farm was and is, exactly that – working. Whether it was his interest in fine wine, or his business acumen, that led to his decision to turn some of his fields over to planting a vineyard (probably both!) doesn’t matter, because it too works!
As with all start up businesses, it’s a work in progress. There aren’t the millions necessary to make it all perfect in one fell swoop. Development has to be, as we say in Spain, poco a poco, but the business plan is being followed to the letter, driven by success!
Caroline, combining business experience in other fields with a barrel full of charm, is establishing a Wine Tourism Dept. Her idea of self-guided tours is proving popular, followed, as they of course are, by a tasting in the converted bucolic barn. We, though, were given the personal tour, which also ended in a tasting, claro!
Whilst English Sparkling Wine wants to stand on its own two feet and not be likened to Champagne, it’s impossible not to make comparisons – the more so when they are favourable! Using the same three main grape varieties as those grown in those hallowed French vineyards, planted in similar soils, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, Langhmam’s ‘Classic Cuvée’ 2014 is a lovely sparkling wine whose 9·5 grams of sugar per litre make it the driest Brut of the portfolio.
Grapes are pressed in whole bunches and fermented in a combination of stainless steel tanks and used French oak barrels. Malolactic fermentation followed, to take away some of that acidity, then the base wine was left on its lees for 6 months for some extra complexity in the finished fizz. The traditional method was used, of course, with the now bottled wine resting for a further two years before being released.
Pears and a little apple are on the nose, with some patisserie notes too, and the fruit follows through onto the palate where it is joined by some mature flavours indicating its pedigree!
Langham’s Blanc de Blanc, made with 100% Chardonnay, has seen most of the base wine fermented in barrel and there has been considerable further ageing after the secondary fermentation in bottle – a lengthy 48 months! There’s a slightly honeyed feel, as well as flavour, to this wine, though it’s not at all sweet. You’ll find a certain nuttiness, perhaps blanched, as well as very slightly toasted, almonds. Fruit-wise, there’s a citric note with mature pears in the mix too.
The Rosé is made mostly with Pinot Noir, blended with just 11% Chardonnay. Its gorgeous appearance does not flatter to deceive. You’ll find dark red rose petals on the nose with a combination of ripe strawberries and redcurrant, plus, endearingly, slightly under-ripe raspberry on the palate, giving the finish a lick of acidity and making the wine suitable for a range of foods.
The Classic Cuvée Reserve 2011 is a 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir harvested from selected plots and subjected to strict quality control. The base wine is made from barrel fermented juice which is then bottled without filtration. After the second fermentation the wine is aged for 36 months on its lees, which accounts for the concentration, depth and complexity of the finished product.
Mature apple with ripe pear skin, a real depth and intensity, some understated brioche, warm bread notes and a long, long finish! A Sparkling Wine with presence. A perfect fit for the fine dining table – think Christmas Lunch/Dinner too!
PS Some seats remaining for our Musical Dinner with Paired Wines, and www.clairemarie.es , Saturday 25th November, Club Nautico, Moraira. Please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 629 388 159 to reserve!