Langham Wine Estate: sparkling wines from Dorset, England

Langham Wine Estate are based in Dorset, part of the Langham Agricultural Enterprise which covers over 1000 hectares. A while back John Langham decided to test the capabilities of a south-facing slope with a flint-laced shallow clay loam soil over a Cretaceous chalk bedrock by planting some vines. In 2009 his son Justin expanded operations by planting 30 acres (12 hectares) of vines, which means that annual production is now between 50 000 and 60 000 bottles of sparkling wine. Farming is low impact sustainable, with an emphasis on biological control rather than chemical measures. For example, they have a Collard, which blows pulses of air that fragment the leaves in the fruit zone, improving air flow and also, when done before bunch closure, removes flower cap debris from the bunches which might later be a source of botrytis.

There have been three winemakers. Current winemaker, Tommy Grimshaw, didn’t make these wines – they are from Daniel Ham. Daniel’s predecessor was Liam Idzikowski, now winemaker at Danbury Estate. From 2017 the base wines were made without added yeasts, and with no fining or filtering. They are fermented in a mix of stainless steel and old oak, and there is now a perpetual reserve (a sort of solera system).

I’m really impressed by what’s going on here. It’s not just formula techno-winemaking.

Langham Corallian Classic Cuvée Extra Brut NV Dorset, England
12% alcohol. 62% Chardonnay, 29% Pinot Noir, 9% Pinot Meunier. 90% from 2017, 10% reserve wines. Disgorged December 2020, 2 g/litre dosage. Rich but also saline and fresh with some walnut and spice savouriness, and a slight cheesiness that’s not unpleasant. This is bright and layered, but also nicely rich with some baked apple and pear notes. Lots of flavour here, but with some finesse, with lovely acidity under everything else. 91/100

Langham Culver Classic Cuvée NV Dorset, England
12% alcohol. A blend of 66% Pinot Noir, 24% Pinot Meunier and 10% Chardonnay. 94% is from 2017, with 6% reserve wines. Disgorged December 2020 with 2.5 g/l dosage. It’s lively and very fruity with some cherry and lemon notes as well as a subtle herbiness. There’s even a hint of grapey richness here, and it finishes with some tapered grapefruit, lemon and green apple character. Such a lovely fruit forward style, offering a lot of pleasure, but also hemmed in by keen acidity. 90/100

Langham Rosé 2017 Dorset, England
12% alcohol. 54% Pinot Noir, 23% Pinot Meunier, 23% Chardonnay. Disgorged November 2020, dosage 4 g/l. This has a really subtle, sappy nose with some leafy green hints alongside red berry fruits. The palate is very fine with some cranberry and wild strawberry notes, a hint of raspberry, a bit of rhubarb and a fine citrus core. This is a really attractive wine with freshness and focus, integrating the fruit and the green very nicely. 92/100

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