Tuesday, 28 May 2013

English Wine Week Celebrates: Camel Valley - Cornwall's Finest Fizz

Whilst many producers in England have been making wine for a number of years, it appears now that the palates of us English folk are finally suited to, or seeking, the crisp, cool varieties which suit our ever changing, unpredictable, cool climate. This means good business for many English winemakers, and indeed there has been a particular rise in the popularity of English sparkling wine. English Sparkling Wine is the new Champagne – so say many of today’s wine writers, journalists and wine professionals.

Whether its the increased patriotism of a nation following a few incredibly British years - the Royal Wedding, Queen’s Jubilee and Olympics - or that awkward episode of The Apprentice last year which has increased our interest in English wine, it’s fantastic news for an otherwise underdog of the wine world. One producer which has revelled in this success is Camel Valley.

Last Autumn, I spent a couple of gloriously sunny days in Cornwall and dropped in to the Camel Valley vineyards tucked away in the gorgeous rolling hills of the Cornish countryside. Thanks to the perks of working in the wine industry, I was fortunate to catch a sneaky half an hour with winemaker Sam Lindo (who was named UK winemaker of the year in 2007, 2010 and 2011) for a quick chat about Camel Valley, their wines, and their recent successes.

Sam and Bob (Sam's father) Lindo have won many trophies and gold medals in international competitions, including 3 International Wine Challenge trophies and 5 gold medals, and 2 Decanter golds. They have won 4 trophies in the coveted Bollicini Del Mondo World sparkling Wine Championships and were crowned sparkling rose World Champions in 2010 and 2011.

My pick of the range is the 2011 Camel Valley ‘Cornwall’ Pinot Noir Rose Brut reported by Jane MacQuitty in The Times as ‘My favourite English rosé – and everyone else’s it seems… Gorgeous’. The 2010 vintage won a Decanter World Wine Award gold medal, the UKVA Trophy for the best Sparkling Rose in England and was awarded first place in the MWs tasting of 90 English Sparkling wines in 2012. Judges included Jancis Robinson, Stephen Spurrier, Stephen Skelton, Susie Barry, Waitrose and M&S.

Pale, salmon-pink in colour with a strawberry and raspberry nose, extending to a fruity, yet delicate palate whilst being effervescent but not aggressive. Serve chilled as an aperitif or with pork or chicken dishes.

For a classic style fizz, try the 2011 Camel Valley 'Cornwall' Brut - at £24.95 (direct from the Camel Valley site) this vintage sparkler will rival many Champagnes. Served in Rick Stein's world-famous Seafood Restaurant and Nathan Outlaw's two Michelin Star Restaurants, this is fresh, zippy, well balanced and incredibly good value for money. Perfect, I imagine, with the Falmouth Bay Native Oysters from Rick's menu!

Whilst Camel Valley consistently produce fantastic sparkling wines, their range also includes 2011 Camel Valley Bacchus, 2010 Camel Valley Atlantic Dry, a rose and a sparkling red. With a beautiful spot in Cornwall, sun drenched slopes by the Camel River, soil and climate suited to the grape varieties – Bacchus, Reichensteiner, Chardonnay, Rondo to name a few - and simple, modern winemaking techniques (no oak, only sleek, incredibly shiny, stainless steel), Camel Valley has a simple balance which works.

The perk of UK producers? You can buy direct from them, cutting out the middle man of supermarkets and off licences. This is a real bonus for me as I feel I am directly supporting our local wine heroes. The 'Cornwall' Pinot Noir Rose Brut is reasonably priced at £26.95 but if you order 6 or more bottles you save 5% and if you order 12 or more bottles you save 10%. The minimum order is any 6 bottles and UK delivery £8.50 per order.


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