The wines of Langham, one of the UK’s most exciting producers


Dorset – a county in the South of England – is not the most famous location for sparkling wine in the country: that title would go to the triumvirate of Kent, Sussex and Hampshire. But from here is emerging one of the true stars of English sparkling wine: Langham.

Why are they so distinctive? In part, it’s because of the winemaking. Rather than join the techno crowds, of younger producers lacking confidence and experience relying on making squeaky clean base wines with the aid of winemaking technology and additives, Langham have taken a more natural approach with their base wines, and this shows through in the final wines, which have real complexity and layers of flavour.

Tommy Grimshaw, winemaker at Langham

This low intervention approach started with the previous winemaker, Daniel Ham, who is now making wines for Domaine Hugo and his own project, Offbeat Wines. And it has continued with current winemaker Tommy Grimshaw, who joined 3 years ago and has been chief winemaker since 2020. So expect a continuity in style.

All the base wines are wild ferment, and this follows an oxidative approach at pressing. This year they have used an oxygen tank to treat press juice: the pressings are higher in phenolics and using oxygen at this stage precipitates them out, making a potentially longer lived and more elegant wine. Tommy uses 50% oak for the base wines and doesn’t filter or fine. He does 100% malolactic, and because of the challenging conditions with regard to pH, he inoculates for this.

Most of the wines are non-vintage, and reserve wines are now kept as a perpetual cuvée in a 4000 litre concrete tank.

The history? IN 1980 John Langham bought what is now Langham Estate, an agricultural property of over 1000 hectares on chalk soils in Dorset. He established a small hobby vineyard near the manor house on the property, but it is his son Justin who took wine seriously. After visiting many wine regions and studying viticulture and enology at Plumpton, he planted 30 acres on a south-facing slope at Crowthorne Farm in 2009. The vines are now approaching maturity, and clearly this is a site with a talent for traditional method fizz.

Corallin and Culver refer to different sorts of chalk. The vineyards here have chalk soils with 13 different strata of chalk.


Langham Corallian Classic Cuvée Extra Brut NV Dorset, England
2018 base with 2017 reserve wines, and a blend of 75% Chardonnay, 15% Pinot Noir and 10% Pinot Meunier. Dosage 1.5 g/litre. Lovely complexity here with taut lemons, some spice and intense flavours, with a hint of marmalade. Keen acidity. Nice complexity here: very fine. 93/100 (£27.50)

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
55% Pinot Noir, 25% Chardonnay, 20% Pinot Meunier. 2 g/litre dosage. This has lovely pear, cherry and spice notes, as well as some plum. Stylish, showing nice precision. Full flavoured, layered and gastronomic with high acidity. 93/100

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 NV Dorset, England
46% Pinot Noir, 36% Chardonnay, 18% Pinot Meunier. 3 g/l dosage. The colour comes from assemblage (adding red wine to the base wine) not saignée. Powerful, fresh and detailed with nice fine spicy notes, and a touch of toastiness. Very gastronomic with spice, cherries and good acidity as well as a touch of mandarin. 92/100

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

Langham Blanc de Blancs 2017 Dorset, England
No added sulfites. Powerful with flavours of apple and spice and a touch of honey. Has a savoury biscuitty edge to the finish. Bready with keen acidity and a distinctive finish. 90/100

Langham Pinot Meunier 2018 Dorset, England
100% oak fermented base wines, and a dosage of 1.5 g/litre. Lively, fresh and vivid with nice bright citrus fruit and a touch of honey and spice. So vivid, with lovely precision. Complex and intense with a crystalline quality to the citrus fruit. Some delicacy here allied to the intensity. 94/100

Langham Chardonnay 2018 Dorset, England
12% alcohol. This is an experimental still wine, from the warm abundant year of 2018. Estate grown on limestone with very little top soil, wild ferment, no fining or filtration. This is fresh and finely spiced with some nice citrus fruit. Pure and lemony with amazing crystalline acidity. There’s a brightness here, good texture, and a sense of minerality. Very fine. 94/100

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