JAMMY GIT!

If you knew my brother you’d guess this was going to be about him! He’s led a charmed life, has ‘our Al’, but no, this is actually about a lucky find, here in the south of England, where, as I write, we are still enjoying our time in delightful Dorset!

The wines of Bordeaux, using a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc became very popular in England when Henry Plantagenet married Eleanor d’Aquitaine in the 12th Century. Apart from the lengthy setback of the 100 Years War (which lasted from 1337 – 1453[?], you do the maths!) between France and England, the British have enjoyed a long, tasty and lucrative association with probably the world’s most famous wine region.

Centuries later, you can imagine the delight on the faces of the BinTwo Team (www.bintwo.com), of Padstow, Cornwall, who, whilst visiting nearby Knightor Winery (www.knightor.com), stumbled upon some wines at different stages of development, made from Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, here in the UK!

BinTwo is an independent wine merchant and coffee shop, overlooking Padstow harbour, and somehow I have to engineer an opportunity to pay them a visit – it looks fantastic!

As you’ve seen from the photo atop this article, the name of the wine made in Cornwall, but from grapes grown in huge greenhouses in Gloucestershire, is eponymous and, when you’ve tasted the wine, perhaps apt as well! I was of course very pleased to receive a sample bottle which we tasted in the sunshine, not for the first time commenting on climate change and how there were at least some benefits to the rather worrying global warming scenario.

BinTwo stocks well chosen, famous wines as well as their own label wines – Jammy Git – they’ll vary in aroma and taste profiles, of course, but they all have one thing in common, they are chosen for their quality as perceived by the Team. In fact this wine is Jammy Git II, the first Jammy Git, was a Bordeaux blend made in Bordeaux, with adjustments from the Team.

Jammy Git 1 sold out and when they came across a Bordeaux type blend in their home county, well, they couldn’t resist the opportunity to make another, with a British twist.

The wine is actually made from three different vintages. It’s an unusual idea these days, though regular Cork Talk readers will know of one or two wineries in Spain who are doing similarly. Plus, of course, such alchemy is used to rather good effect in Champagne!

In this case it’s a quite complex operation – there’s not only the blending of the different vintages to be considered, but also the actual grape variety blend. After several sessions the winning formula was: 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon, coming from 42% of the 2018 vintage, which had a good fruit delivery, though lacking body; 40% of the 2017 which had the structure but was a touch thin; and finally just 18% of the 2016 vintage which had spent some time in French oak, therefore adding depth and complexity to the finished product.

Jammy Git II is a lightly coloured red wine, looking at first a little like a Pinot Noir. The colour is a pointer to the style too – it’s a light to medium bodied red, quite fresh on the palate, despite its barrel ageing. I couldn’t resist it when it arrived so tried it first only a few hours after its journey.

Whilst I agree that it does sound a bit precious, wines are best left a while, 24 hours really, before they are consumed if they’ve travelled a distance. This even applies after the trip home from the wine shop, though in that instance just a few hours will suffice. (NB there’s currently some debate about this ‘travel shock’ notion, in fact initiated by Mike of Bin Two – shows how on the ball the are! I usually let the wine rest, no matter what the scientists say, to be on the safe side.)

That first tasting revealed a shy wine, not really deserving of being called jammy, in the sense of an obvious ripe fruit presence. However, the day after, when the bottle had been retrieved from the cellar, it had opened up quite nicely. Apart from a pleasant, slight menthol, wood and wine aroma it was still reluctant to give much on the nose, but it was on the palate where the wine started to shine.

Brambly fruit, a little earthiness with ongoing minty notes – I wonder how Jammy Git II would have compared with those lightly coloured clarets that Henry II and his Queen of Aquitaine so enjoyed.

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Furleigh Estate

ENGLISH WINE – ANOTHER VISIT TO DORSET!

Twenty two years ago (this week, actually) when I left the UK for a new life in Spain I certainly didn’t expect to be returning, all this time later, with a choice of top quality wineries to visit back in Blighty.

It wasn’t even possible to call English and Welsh wine production a nascent industry in the 90s when I left. There may have been perhaps 300 small producers at the time, a rather insignificant number anyway, and in fact it was seen largely as a hobby, a pastime, perhaps for rather idiosyncratic people. But there were those who persevered – perhaps they knew something then that most of the world didn’t, and indeed some deny to this day. Climate change was happening and was very likely to continue!

In the early years of the new millennium those producers who had been stoically making sparkling wines started to achieve some recognition, and success in various wine competitions. English Sparkling Wine competed with Champagne and other quality sparklers – and occasionally won! The wine world began to take notice – just as the British summers began to get hotter with more sunshine hours.

In 2004 Furleigh Estate, Salway Ash, Dorset, was established – and they haven’t looked back since! Their website (www.furleighestate.co.uk) tells of the dinosaur bones that helped make the soils of the rolling land in which their vines are planted, and it was this comment that actually made me choose Furleigh for this visit, from the several that had been recommended, thanks to my Twitter wine friends. And it wasn’t a coincidence that when we went home we watched an old Jurassic Park film!

Our excellent guide, Nick’s optimistic (we now know!) estimate of the time it would take us to travel from where we were staying, differed somewhat from Mr. Google, so we opted for a blend of local knowledge and technology. We were late! Never mind!

Furleigh Estate wines are made with originally German and French varieties – Rondo (unknown to me) but a black grape with coloured flesh, like SE Spain’s Garnacha Tintorera (aka Alicante Bouchette); and white wine variety, Bacchus, the variety that figures in most English and Welsh wineries. And from France, of course, the Champagne triumvirate of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.

The soil, excellent for making sparkling wines, is largely sand and crustacean based (plus the dinosaurs!) – and it’s not only the vines which like it. Deer often roam freely over the vineyards, occasionally nibbling a few leaves, plus there are badgers and rabbits. In fact, the rabbits can be a problem, to the extent that Nick joked, that when we leave we can take away the Furleigh fizz glass, and a rabbit too, please! Funnily enough right on cue, one jumped out of the hedgerow as we left!

Furleigh has 23,000 vines planted over 18 south facing acres on site, plus a further 30,000 vines elsewhere in Dorset. The difference in the terroir of the two different vineyards gives joint owner (with his wife, Rebecca) and winemaker, Ian, more options when he is making is final blends.

The vines are trellised, all are in pristine condition, and are quite high – the growth is kept a little above the ground to avoid frost damage. Harvest has usually been in the second week of October, when more workers are brought in for the job, but in the most recent years harvest has occurred perhaps two weeks ahead of the expected schedule – you know why, it’s Climate Change once again!

The tasting room at Furleigh Estate has a lovely view over the surrounding land, lit up by beautiful sunshine when we visited. Dorset is such a delight!

Our first wine was actually my favourite of the session – an unusual, quite rare, in fact, white wine made from black Pinot Noir grapes, therefore a blanc de noir. This style has always excited me – most usually seen in sparkling wines, but still uncommon, it has the freshness of a chilled white allied to the depth and body of a red. Furleigh Estate’s White Pinot Noir 2018 had all of this plus some lovely citrus and baked apple aromas and flavour. Great start!

Our next wine, white again, was made with Bacchus plus just 4% Chardonnay. Lovely elderflower perfume emanated from the bottle the moment the screw top was opened. There are also some earthy and herbaceous notes on the nose, with some orchard fruits on the palate. Slightly sweeter than the first white, though not at all a sweet wine, the Bacchus Dry 2018 will suit SE Asian cuisine very nicely!

The Classic Cuvée 2014 English Sparkling Wine is made with the three Champagne varieties, 40% Chardonnay with 30% each of the other two. It has a fine mousse with tiny bubbles speeding to the surface. On the palate there is elegance and on the nose some patisserie notes along with some faint ripe pear fruit. I couldn’t find the melon suggested in the tasting notes, but there was a nice reference to lemon (same letters, different order!). It’s a Brut Sparkling Wine, though at 11 grams of residual sugar, it’s at the sweeter end of the spectrum. Try this wine with Chinese food and I can believe it’s just right, as it says on the tasting notes, with smoked salmon served with some horseradish. I’d love to try it with sushi with a lick of wasabi too!

Finally, because we were such a nice group (Nick, you smooth talker you!) we were able to taste the Sea Pink 2018, traditionally coloured rosé wine, which had a noticeable slight sweetness to it too!

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