Discovering the best of English wine: Camel Valley
Guest Post by Ben Franks, for Social Vignerons
Camel Valley Vineyard planted their first vines in 1989. Father and son, Bob and Sam Lindo, have grown those vines into award-winning English wines – in fact some of today’s most world-class wines. From a variety of refreshing bubblies to a full range of truly enjoyable still wines, Lindo’s estate is a gem to be discovered.
The estate itself produces a third of the winery’s annual bottle production, with grapes sourced from other growers in the region. The vines sit on the slopes down into the valley, soaking up the Cornish sun. Sitting on the balcony outside the tasting room means you can enjoy a glass or two with picturesque views over the valley.
Visiting Camel Valley vineyard makes for a lovely day out and the Lindos are hugely welcoming. But the most amazing part about this winery is the wine.
Flag-shipping the range is their 2012 “Cornwall” Brut, made from 60% Seyval Blanc, 20% Reichensteiner and 20% Chardonnay. This vintage bubbly is bursting with fleshy crisp white apple fruit, making it hugely flavoursome. While full of refreshing acidity preserved by crushing the grapes, the wine is balanced by a classic English delicacy in texture and body, charmed by our cool climate. It’s incredibly good value too.
Amongst their other white sparkling wines are their oldest, the smooth and very enjoyable 2009 Chardonnay Brut, boasting creamy oak aromas and a zing of fruit; and my personal 2014 best wine, the 2010 White Pinot Noir. It’s a complex and elegant sparkling with alluring, yet subtle, red berry notes in the mouth.
Camel Valley is no stranger to awards, winning vast numbers of trophies since 1993, but their IWC Gold medal winner, the “Cornwall” Pinot Noir rosé, is something extra special. It’s a stunning wine with a beautifully seductive pale colour, gorgeous cherry notes and a long, “moreish” length.
While Camel Valley stuns in the sparkling wine world, completely unique, delicate and bursting with fruity acidity, its still wine range fights just as strongly for England’s case as a leading wine producer.
From their 2013 Bacchus that has all the pros of a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc with a touch more delicacy and reviving green fruits to a truly impressive 100% Pinot Noir rosé with delicious strawberry characters.
Most surprisingly, though, was Camel Valley’s 2013 “Red”. Because of England’s cool climate, reds are pretty difficult to produce, but that means England is in the unique position to do something new with their red wines. Hand-picked Rondo grapes make this bright, ruby-ink red – and its colour alone is truly a marvel. Best drunk very slightly chilled on a cool summer’s day, this red wine has brambly red fruits in the mouth with some enticing acidity you usually only find in some top-range new world Pinot Noirs.
While Camel Valley is a sure example of why England is a growing force in the wine world, there is still the case of English supply and demand. Sam Lindo, in our interview, expressed it was important to encourage exports and increase English wine’s reputation all over the world. More and more producers are planting vines and starting their exciting venture in English or Welsh wine, but it’s important that supply doesn’t saturate demand.
Gratefully, big names like the supermarket Waitrose have increased their range of English wines for another year, alongside many other retailers, especially those promoting local produce. While it would still be a struggle for any English winery to supply nationally, these retailers are leading the way in providing opportunity for new wineries to make their name and gain a following.
With more and more wine entering local shelves and consistently quality wines coming from vineyards like Camel Valley, English wine’s future looks bright. There’s really never been a better time to give this nation’s wine a go.