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Dorset Sparkling Wine from Furleigh Wines.
Are you as excited about the rise of English fizz as I am? I’ve become a big fan in recent years. It seems that lots of us are at long last appreciating the finesse of our home-grown wines. Maybe it’s our great terroir, maybe it’s climate change. But English wines can no longer be dismissed as unsophisticated or as inferior to their continental counterparts. There are some phenomenal statistics to ponder:
· Hectarage planted in Great Britain has grown by 194% in the last 10 years and quadrupled since 2000.
· 6.3 million bottles were produced in 2014, by 2018 this had surged to 15.6 million, and it’s predicted to reach 40 million by 2040.
· In May 2019 3 million vines were planted.
· 76% is grown in the South East of England, with the South West accounting for 13%, 4% in East Anglia, 6% other and 1% in Wales.
Furleigh Estate is in Dorset, accounts for 85 acres of these statistics in the South West; it currently has over 22,000 vines on its south-facing slopes. 15,000 of these are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier used to produce classic quality sparkling wines. Bacchus and Rondo are also grown to produce fine still wines.
Whenever I’m doing teambuilding work using the MBTI tool, one of my favourite exercises to test preferences on the Sensing-Intuition dichotomy (functions of processes of perception) is to produce a bottle of sparkling wine. Then I ask the participants to look at it for 20 seconds and to write down their descriptors.
Without fail, those who have a preference for the Sensing side of the dichotomy (focusing on what can be perceived by the five senses) will describe the bottle as: ‘green’, ‘with a gold label’, ‘with a gold foil wrapper around the cork’, ‘it has a punt in the bottom of the bottle.’
Those with a preference for the Intuition side of the dichotomy (focusing on impressions, meaning or patterns) will describe the bottle as ‘Celebration’, ‘Good times’, ‘Fun’. There’s always a lot of laughter in the room once people start to realise how differently they see the world.
How do you see the world? I’m on the Intuition side of the dichotomy – a bottle of fizz is always about having a good time for me. So when I was sent 4 bottles of English sparkling wine from Furleigh Estate to review, my first thought was ‘party’. I asked a group of friends to dinner and we all contributed a dish or two, and then tasted the wines with the food and discussed how well they matched.
With one vegetarian, one pescatarian, one gluten-free, and one strawberry allergy guest (a modern phenomenon challenging dinner party hosts) our menu consisted of:
- Seafood platter; lobster claws, prawns, dressed crab, smoked sprats, smoked salmon, and a cheese pâté for the veggie
- Cauliflower cake (made with gluten-free flour)
- Chickpea and courgette balls with a spicy tomato sauce
- Pumpkin gratineé
- Roasted Mediterranean vegetables
- Chicken salad with a tahini dressing
- Asparagus and egg salad
- Potato salad
- Green bean and mange tout salad with hazelnuts and orange zest
- Eton messes; one with strawberries, one with raspberries
- White chocolate and raspberry gluten-free cheesecake
We decided to pair the seafood with the Blanc de Noir. The Blanc de Noir as its name suggests is made from the red grapes Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. This wine was a hit with us all. Described by one guest as “indistinguishable from champagne”. It had a toasty, biscuity slightly nutty quality, along with the aroma of white soft fruits, and with a stream of tiny bubbles. We thought that it worked really nicely with the prawns and lobster (but not the smoked sprats), and with the cheese pâté as it was dry enough to cut through the fat. When we voted at the end, this was the favourite wine of the evening for the majority of the guests.
We cracked open both the Classic Cuvée and the Blanc to Blanc to go with the rest of the food. The Classic Cuvée is a blend of the 3 classic Champagne grapes; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. A pretty pale lemon colour with a good stream of bubbles we found this to be a little sweeter than the Blanc de Noir, with a floral nose a bit of citrus to the palate – and rather too easy to drink! The Blanc de Blanc wine is made entirely from Chardonnay grapes. This again was a lighter style than the Blanc de Noir. A pretty pale lemon colour, with a zesty citrus fruit and mineral slightly salty finish. This went beautifully with the chicken salad with the tahini dressing, the cauliflower cake, and the pumpkin gratinée when there was only a small quantity of goat’s cheese in the portion. It was rather overwhelmed by the chickpea and courgette balls in the spicy sauce. We felt that this wine was probably best enjoyed on its own as an aperitive.
Our final bottle was the rosé which we served in white wine glasses. A really pretty delicate shade of salmon pink, it hit us with its strawberry aroma, reminding us of scones and cream. Although it was in no way a sweet wine, I guessed it would be a good match for the creamy white chocolate and raspberry cheesecake (gluten-free). We took a vote, and this seemed to be the best match, although we also thought that it’d be rather nice as an aperitif sipped in the sunshine on a lovely terrace.
A rich and decadent no-bake cheesecake
- 320 g gluten free digestive biscuits
- 150 g butter
- 500 g mascapone cheese
- 100 g icing sugar
- 250 g white chocolate
- 300 ml double cream
- 1 pod vanilla seeds You could use vanilla extract as an alternative
- 275 g fresh raspberries
- Extra chunks of white chocolate
- Extra fresh raspberries
Put the digestives into a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin until they reach the consistency you like
Gently melt the butter
Put the biscuits into a bowl and add the butter until combined
Press firmly into the base of your tin
Place in fridge for at least 30 minutes to harden
Melt the white chocolate over a ban marie - don't let it touch the water. Turn off heat
Mix together the mascarpone, icing sugar and vanilla seeds. This won't take long.
Add in the double cream and mix until it firms up - about 2 minutes
Pour in the melted white chocolate and mix briefly
Fold through the raspberries
Spread on top of the biscuit base and chill in the fridge overnight
Break up some chunks of white chocolate and arrange on top along with fresh raspberries
Furleigh Estate doesn’t just produce sparkling wine, there are also still white, rosé and red wines. I rather like the sound of the Tyrannosaurus Red! If you are in the area there are also vineyard tours and wine tasting sessions. Why not visit or order a bottle (or 6) on-line!
Disclaimer: We were sent the wines by Furleigh Estate to review.
Dorset, DT6 5JF
Still determined to buy French fizz? we suggest trying Cremant. Read our feature on why Cremant offers great value if you love French sparkling wine