To continue with our regular addition of new producers’ wines to what is becoming an exceedingly wide range of wines from sparkling wine producers throughout the UK, the most recent to be added is Furleigh Estate, based near Bridport on the ancient coast of South Dorset. A coast strewn with a remnants of bygone eras, notably dinosaur fossils. I remember years ago, playing in the rock pools of Kimmeridge and beyond, searching for ammonites and dino-claws. A few were found (not dinosaur claws) among the flint, slate and chalk that has eroded from the huge cliffs over time. These geological formations formed over hundreds of millions of years are what make the potential of vineyards in the South of England, such a reality.
Furleigh Estate are one of the many producers on the South Coast, who are able to take advantage of the geology, coupled with the (fairly) mild, subcontinental climate, and produce a superb range of wines. Pertinently for us, their Classic Cuvée 2009, which breezed through the expert blind tasting panel a few months ago to grace our site with its presence. It is an elegant and opulent wine with a lovely, bright appearance with a slight hint of pink and a good mousse. Refreshing, sweetly fruited with notes of strawberry, candied lemon peel, creamy Pinot noir fruit and underlying brioche give this wine a hugely inviting and attractive nose. The palate doesn’t disappoint. A well balanced and easy going wine, with dimensions of flavours of brioche and red fruit.
The estate is owned and managed by Rebecca Hansford and husband Ian Edwards, having purchase the property in 2004. Unlike a majority of the wine producers in the UK, Rebecca grew up at the estate on which they’ve planted, her father having sold the estate in the 1990s. Serendipitously, the property was back on the market when Rebecca and Ian were looking for a family home. Where better than somewhere you know already! And with room to build a vineyard.
8 years on, Furleigh have released their first sparkling wine which really impresses. From planting in 2005 and 2006, the vineyard has grown to 22,000 vines, mainly destined for sparkling bottles, with a range of still wines also being produced. In 2007, a purpose-built, top of the range winery was installed at the site, enabling the team to continue to manage the processes of getting their vines’ grapes, all hand-tended, into a bottle. Just this month, Furleigh opened the doors to their brand new cellar door and tasting room. Constructed on the footprint of the barn into which Rebecca helped to herd cows as a child, it seems only fitting that the enjoyment of the labours of the vineyard at Furleigh can take place in the same place…!