Nanstallon, Bodmin, Cornwall, UK
Visited 20th July 2007
The idea of English wine has always been a bit of a joke, but it's scattered producers are beginning to get a reputation for decent sparkling. One such winery is Cornwell's Camel Valley Vineyard situated on a south facing slope above the Camel River. The cellar door is in a lovely stone building with fantastic views over the vines and across the valley. Granny, my Aunt and I dropped by for a mid-morning tasting.
There were two whites, a rose, a red and a rose sparkling on tasting and to try the Sparkling Brut I had to purchase a glass. The first wine was a Bacchus 2006, which had a mineraly nose; clean, crisp palate with citrus flavours and bubbly acidity, but also a little off putting alcohol. This was the first time I had tried the Bacchus grape and it certainly looked like it would go pretty well alongside seafood. Next was the Atlantic Dry 2006, a blend of Reichentseiner and Schoenberger. Its nose had an appealing honey smell and a little "petroly" stuff going on, the palate had subtle hints of sea-shells, lemon zest, but again suggestions of unbalanced alcohol. The Rose 2005 was OK, with floral and lime flavours, rather than big obvious fruit. The Red 2006 was pretty average; withdrawn fruit and a sour palate. The definite highlight of the morning was the Sparkling Brut 2005, a lovely wine with a lemon, apple blossom and yeast on the nose and a mouthful of refreshing, citrus flavours.
Though the wines were an interesting selection, they weren't cheap and at £17.99 the Sparkling Brut is competing with some pretty decent Champagne. One thing I did notice across the range was a sense of terroir, a pleasant citrus and crushed sea-shell theme. The wines were OK, the views fantastic, but my visit was really let down by the woman on the cellar door. She was uninterested, unhelpful, unknowledgeable and poured out tiny sniffs of wine (and refused to pour a second tiny sniff, when the first evaporated before it could be drunk). A bit of a shame really as I visited the Camel Valley Vineyard wanting to be inspired by British wine and left disenchanted because of how we were treated.
Visit winery website