English sparkling wine venture planned with Duval-Leroy
Decanter magazine’s consultant editor Steven Spurrier and his wife Bella are hoping to team up with Champagne house Duval-Leroy to start a vineyard in the south of England. The decision rests on the results of soil samples, due back this week. However, Steven told ThirtyFifty that all the signs are positive. ‘It’s wonderfully chalky soil,’ he said. If they get the go ahead, the Spurriers will plant vines this spring on around 28 hectares of their 80-hectare farm in Dorset, where Bella keeps sheep.
The couple have been spurred on by the success of English sparkling wines, such as Nyetimber and Camel Valley, and plan to make a fizz called Bride Valley Brut, named after the Bride river, which runs through the village. The project is a joint venture that has come about because Duval-Leroy had been looking for land in England on which to produce an English sparkler and had been struggling to find the right place and set-up until now. ‘We’ll use their expertise and our land,’ explained Steven.
The Spurriers’ farm lends itself perfectly to winegrowing and establishing a winery. It’s all southeast, south and southwest facing, with perfect drainage and protected from the wind. In the centre is a natural bowl with enough room to build a winery and, on one side, the land rises sharply, which would make it easy to create underground cellars just by digging into the side of the hill, according to Steven.
If planting starts on schedule, the first harvest would be in 2009, with a first cuvee available in 2012, just in time for the Olympic sailing events, which are to be held in nearby Weymouth.