One of the West Country’s premier vineyards,Furleigh Estate is a family owned winery in the beautiful Dorset countryside. Stayat Summer Lodge Country House Hotel and Restaurant orThe Acorn Inn and explore the Furleigh Estate’s 85 acres whilst sampling their award-winning still and sparkling wines, learning about Dorset's viticulture along the way. Here, we speak with one of Furleigh Estate’s owners, Rebecca Hansford about the award-winning vineyard.
Can you take us through a typical tour of your vineyards?
“The day begins with a glass of Furleigh Estate sparkling wine. You’ll then be taken around the vineyard and winery by our guide Nick Beecheno, who will tell you as much as you’d like to know about the grapes and the history of sparkling wines. The secret behind the bubbles in sparkling wines actually began with West Country cider. A scientist from the Royal Society in London wrote down the recipe even before Dom Pérignon.
The tour finishes in the tasting room where you can try some of Furleigh Estate’s still and sparkling wines accompanied by some local cheeses and charcuterie. Usually our visitors don’t want to leave! It’s beautiful because it’s very quiet. No one else is here so it’s very peaceful.”
How would you describe the flavours of your award-winning sparkling wines?
“Our Classic Cuvée is a dry sparkling wine with a refined elegance and floral aromas of apple blossom interlaced with melon and pear. Its zesty acidity gives it a citrus flavour of grapefruit and Sicilian lemon. The Blanc de Noirs has a great depth of flavour and exceptional balance with aromas of white iris and peony along with cherry and a mild touch of vanilla and hazelnut. The palate is fruit-driven with ripe quince, yellow peach and notes of medlar apple.”
Dorset is famous for its delicious fish and seafood. What kind of dishes would you recommend to go with your wines?
“Our wines complement oysters, prawns and langoustine lobsters; but what goes absolutely wonderfully with our sparkling wines is fish and chips, and it must be eaten on the beach. The acidity of the sparkling wine cuts right through the richness of the fried fish.”
Your vineyard is only a short way away from the Jurassic Coast. Does this influence the wines you produce?
“Definitely. Our red wine is named after it, the Tyrannosaurus Red. We donate 10p from all of our still wines to the Jurassic Coast Trust, as they’re a wonderful charity and do great conservation work. Lots of people come down to the coast and spend a day looking at the dinosaurs and then enjoy some of the local food and wines before coming to visit Furleigh Estate to find out more. It’s all very much part of Dorset life.”
What makes Furleigh Estate wines unique, and is there something different about Dorset wines?
“English wines are constantly improving. It’s been developing for fifty years so we’ve had enough time to find out exactly what works. The French often speak about terroir, how the soil effects the quality. It’s true! We’re close to the stunning white chalk cliffs near Weymouth, and we’re traditionally a fruit producing part of the country. What is produced all comes down to the soil, and all of our wine is made from our locally produced grapes. Dorset wine is Dorset wine.”
How would you spend your ideal day on the Dorset coast?
“I’d take a wonderful walk overlookingChesil Beach, whichis the best view in the entire world. It’s full of pebbles and there’s a wonderful little chapel and an amazing view over a lagoon. It’s as if nature and an artist have come together. My children will normally come with me for a long walk, especially as there’s a local ice cream waiting for them at the end of it.”