I'd heard of Camel Valley Winery's reputation (award winning sparklers) since I first moved out of Cornwall over a decade ago. I was glad after all this time to get the chance to visit and meet Bob and Sam Lindo, the father and son winemaking team.
Camel Valley was started in 1989 with 8,000 vines. They added 4,000 vines in 2002 and another 12,000 in 2005. However, even with 20k vines under management, they still get 2/3rds of their grapes from other vineyards around the UK – this gives them some defense against a poor harvest and allows them to choose the ripest grapes from around the country. Total production is around 90,000 bottles.
They grow an eclectic mix of hardy, cool climate, early ripening grapes, including Bacchus, Triomphe, Dornfelder, Rondo, Pinot Noir, Dornfelder, Seyval, Huxel and Reissersteiner. When I asked how they figured out why these grapes would work well in the English climate, Sam said that they are all commonly grown in Germany, which is one of the Northernmost wine regions in the world.
Camel Valley Valley Rosé 2008, £22 ($37):
“Pinot Noir and Dornfelder. Light straw and cherry aromas. Good, rich, mouth feel, with a sweet cherry taste (7% residual sugar). The sugar isn't as noticeable as you'd expect given the acidity, but it keeps the wine smooth. Subtle pine flavors and a candy floss finish.”
- Camel Valley Atlantic Dry Quality Wine 2008, £9 ($15)
“Made with Huxel and Reissersteiner. Green apples and cinamon dominate. Great oily texture and firm acidity - green apples and crisp. Secondary fruit flavors of banana and apple crumble. Rhubarb crumble on the finish. 4% residual sugar, but barely noticeable.”