7 fantastic Dorset vineyards
PUBLISHED: 15:17 17 October 2016 | UPDATED: 15:17 17 October 2016
English vineyards and winemakers have enjoyed a renaissance in recent years and are now producing award-winning wines of regional character, writes Helen Stiles
Langham Wine Estate
Only the three classic Champagne varieties are grown at this 30 acre vineyard at Dewlish, just outside Dorchester – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. The carefully selected site, with south facing slope, is composed of the same chalk, clay and flint soil found in the Champagne region and Langham’s elegant, long-lived wines compete with the best sparkling wines in the world. These include a Classic Cuvée, Rosé 2013, and a Blanc de Blanc 2011.
English Oak Vineyard
This 23 acre vineyard at Lytchett Matravers, run by the Pharoah family, produces fine sparkling wine made from classic grape varieties selected to emulate the complex blends which characterise the finest Champagnes. There are three delicious sparkling wines, each named after an oak: Engelmann Cuvee 2013; Chinkapin Rose 2013 and San Gabriel Blancs De Blanc 2010.
Melbury Vale Winery
A south facing, rolling hillside in the beautiful Stirkel Valley is home to this family owned vineyard of 28 acres (read more about them in our Shaftesbury feature). Wines include a sparkling white and rosé as well as a still rosé, white and red.
This artisan vineyard in Waddon was established in 2004 on the south facing slopes of the Dorset Downs. It is on Kimmeridgian clay loam with a limestone substrate, the same is found in Chablis in France. This combination results in three distinctive award-winning wines, full of echoes of an English summer: Coastal Dry, Coastal Red and Pink.
Sherborne Castle Wines
Wine has been made at Sherborne Castle Estates since Bishop Roger, who built the Old Castle, planted a vineyard on the northern side of the lake in the 12th century. In 1982, the tradition was revived by John Wingfield Digby at Wake Court in Bishops Caundle. Wines include sparkling and still white and rosé.
Furleigh Estate Vineyard
Located in Salway Ash, just outside Bridport, Rebecca Hansford and her winemaking partner Ian Edwards established this vineyard of 22,000 vines in 2005. The majority are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, the classic varieties for traditional method fizz, and varieties such as Bacchus, Rondo and Triomphe used for still wine play a supporting but important role. The wines are made in the bespoke 5000sq foot winery and are stored and mature in the temperature controlled cellar. The wines of Furleigh Estate opened my eyes to just how good English wine can be. You’ll find their Dorset wines in the grand hotels and restaurants of London, America and China!
Bride Valley Vineyard
Located above the lovely Bride Valley village of Litton Cheney, the vineyard sits in a bowl of bright, white chalk soil surrounded by picturesque woods and farmland. The 10ha estate is owned by Steven and Arabella Spurrier and was planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier in 2009. Steven has spent over 50 years in the wine trade - he is a renowned taster and contributed to many of the important events which shaped the modern wine world. The wonderful soils undoubtedly contribute to the elegance and finesse of the wines which is expertly captured by Ian Edwards of Furleigh Estate who makes the wine. Selling out in the first vintage these are wonderful wines which express a sense of place and reflect the ideals of the estate owners.