According to Decanter, the UK harvested 15.6 million bottles of English wine in 2018 with annual sales of 4 million bottles, increasing by 6% each year. With these figures constantly on the up and with our thirst for knowledge, we were excited to have been invited to visit one of our new suppliers – Langham Wine Estate who specialise in producing English Sparkling wines. Our very own James Fineman reported from amongst the vines…
Who would have thought that our week would start with 25 Hoteliers, Restaurateurs and Landlords battling through the Dorset rain to harvest Chardonnay grapes at Langham Wine Estate?! Armed with jackets, wellies and a few umbrellas, we did just that!
After an introduction to the estate from Justin Langham himself, it was over to the vineyard manager Olly to issue us our instructions and equipment before heading into his prized vines.
Rows of Chardonnay grapes, if a little damp, were ready and waiting for our willing pickers to get to work. It was fascinating to see the grapes eagerly awaiting harvest and also to see just what an effect the recent rain has had on them. This time last year the vines were basking in sunshine, helping to provide the UK with a record vintage, whilst this year the rain in recent weeks has certainly provided its challenges both in the vineyards and the winery.
With crates rapidly filling up, the rain really set in and 2 hours of hard graft was rewarded with a tasting of the range back in the cellar café led by Caroline Gitsham, Sales & Marketing Manager and Justin Langham, followed by a delicious array of local ham and cheeses.
It was an added treat to follow the process from the vineyard to the press house where Daniel, Langham’s Head Winemaker, shared his infectious enthusiasm as we watched the mornings treasure turn from grapes to juice and continue their journey from vine to bottle. Our tour culminated with a visit to the cellar where thousands upon thousands of bottles lay patiently ageing before being disgorged and corked by hand ready to adorn wine lists across Dorset and beyond.
A truly wonderful way to start the week for us and to see with our own eyes the leaps and bounds English wines have made. It is a real testimony to the extraordinary vision of Justin back in 2009 and the dedication of the whole team at Langham that we are able to enjoy award-winning English Sparkling wines from the Dorset countryside, proving that the English wine industry really is a force to be reckoned with!
Our pick of the bunch:
Langham Classic Cuvée
A stunning example of the superb sparkling wines we are able to produce in the UK. A classic blend bursting with flavours reminiscent of honeydew melon and poached pear.
Written by James Fineman, Wine Development Manager for the South Somerset, Dorset, Wiltshire and Bath areas.