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27 October 2012

England: Furleigh Estate, Dorset

"I think we need to train these
solar leaf panels a bit higher!"

Amid an ever increasing amount of talk about English sparkling wines and news of medals being won in international tasting competitions, Furleigh Estate was a new name for me until I tried this bottle of really rather good fizz. Another Champagne look-alike made from the same grapes, grown in sunny Dorset (well, perhaps 2012 was a challenging year as it was elsewhere for English and Welsh winemakers?), in the same traditional bottle-fermented and lees-aged way (their Classic Cuvée is left in bottle slowly ageing on the fine yeast lees for 15 months in fact, before being removed). The vineyards come to 85 rolling acres (34 hectares) across south-facing slopes surrounded by farmland, woods and lakes too in Salway Ash near Bridport, with well over half of that area planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for sparkling wine production. They also make a red wine, a few whites and other sparklers including a rosé. The 2009 Classic Cuvée costs £25 a bottle, which might seem a bit dear but is about the same price as a half-decent Champagne brand; it works out at £2.50 a bottle less though if you buy a case of six, so perhaps not a bad idea for Christmas and New Year quaffing. Vineyard tours and tastings are available too on Fridays and Saturdays: click on their web link underneath the photo to find out more.

Classic Cuvée 2009 (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier; 12% alc.) - lovely fruity nose with complex toasted oat and floral oily notes, this has a very attractive combo of a little richness from those toasty yeasty bready flavours with rounded creamy texture vs crisp and refreshing bite and subtle fine bubbles lingering on the finish. Actually went surprisingly well with quite spicy Chinese and Thai king prawn dishes.


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Header image: Château de Flandry, Limoux, Languedoc. Background: Vineyard near Terrats in Les Aspres, Roussillon.