As our English Fizz Friday we have great pleasure in showcasing:
Bride Valley, Dorset Crémant
As usual we’ll have our small plates available to marry up with the fizz, and this week our oysters and the stunning Porthilly Oysters from Cornwall.
The late Steven Spurrier and his wife Arabella established Bride Valley, located in West Dorset, which continues to be run by the Spurrier family. Steven, while running Les Caves de la Madeleine and L’Académie du Vin in Paris in the 1980s, had chalky soil samples from Arabella’s 80 hectare estate tested and the results came back: “very similar to Champagne”. This is not surprising, because the village of Kimmeridge is just 38 kilometres as the crow flies from Bride Valley. After two decades and three visits from Boisset’s sparkling wine expert, Georges Legrand, vines were planted on the best sites in the bowl of the amphitheatre-like estate. Three hectares were planted in 2009, rising to a total of 10 hectares in 2013 when planting was completed.
The first English “Crémant” is a blend of the 2015 and 2016 vintages, produced from the Champagne trio of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Meunier. The wine was initially fermented in stainless steel, then transferred to bottle for the second fermentation according to the traditional method. It has shorter lees ageing, lower pressure, and a slightly higher dosage than other Bride Valley wines to produce a creamy texture worthy of the name.
This elegant wine has a fresh light yellow colour touched with hints of lemon. The continuous pin-prick bubbles show the bottle fermented effervescence. The Crémant has a much less aggressive fizz and because of this it gently slides onto the palate which a fantastic creamy expression which is then backed by hints of white flowers and white summer fruits.
Think shellfish, especially oysters, poached salmon with lightly pickled cucumber and fennel, or just as an aperitif!
Specific clones were selected following the advice of Pierre-Marie Guillaume, the owner of France’s top nursery in Charcenne (east of Dijon). After intense analysis, seven Chardonnay clones (55% of the plantings), four Pinot Noir clones (25%) and two Meunier clones (20%) were selected. The vines are planted on south and south-west facing slopes. In addition, 1,000 elder trees were also planted to act as a natural windbreak to the breezes coming from the Jurassic Coast, four miles to the south. Bride Valley has been sustainably farmed for centuries and although the grapes are not certified organic, the vineyard continues to follow organic principles.
All of the grapes are hand harvested and then taken to neighbouring Furleigh Estate where award-winning winemaker Ian Edwards vinifies the sparkling wine in his state-of-the-art winery. All four sparkling wines are made exclusively in stainless steel to preserve their purity of fruit and vivacity. Their Brut Reserve is a blend of 50% Chardonnay, 39% Pinot Noir and 11% Meunier with lifted notes of green apple and honeysuckle, complemented by vibrant acidity. The Rosé ‘Bella’, named after Steven’s wife, was macerated for 24 hours to achieve the delicate colour. Both the Rosé and the Blanc de Blancs went through full malolactic fermentation to give a roundness to the racy acidity and then spent around 15 months on lees before release. The Dorset Crémant, from the UK’s first Crémant PDO, is a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Meunier, with lower pressure and a slightly higher dosage to produce a creamy texture and elegant mousse.
Due to the exceptional 2019 vintage, Steven made the decision to produce Bride Valley’s second vintage of still wine. The fruit for the Chardonnay was vinified in stainless steel tanks and then left for four months on its lees. This wine has a very floral nose coupled with a broad palate and a refreshing acidity that lifts the finish.