Camel Valley Vineyards
There are few things in life as luxurious as sipping a glass of sparkling wine on a sunny terrace overlooking a beautiful vineyard and reading a good book. It is an indulgence I have been looking forward to as part of our food odyssey. But we haven’t reached the Champagne region just yet. In fact, we’re not even in France. We’re in the beautiful Camel Valley in sunny Cornwall.
With an average temperature of around 13 degrees and over 1,500 hours of sunshine per year, the Camel Valley in Cornwall is an ideal spot for growing grapes. Frost and snow are rare, as are very high temperatures, which allows the grapes to grow slowly and thus develop a delicate flavour. Grape varieties include some which are not too familiar, such as Rondo and Bacchus, and the more familiar varieties of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
Navigating the steep, winding road to Camel Valley Vineyard, you could be forgiven for thinking that you’d taken a wrong turn. The road is very narrow and lined with a thick growth of wild garlic on both sides. The exotic-sounding name actually comes from the old Cornish word for “the crooked one”, a reference to the winding course of the Camel River which forms the valley. After a steep ascent you arrive at a meticulously-tended vineyard with beautiful vistas back over the valley.
Our tour guide is Sam Lindo, the UK’s Winemaker of the Year for 2007, 2010 and 2011. Sam knowledgeably talks us through the annual grape-growing cycle at the vineyard, the types of grapes grown and their winemaking process. Camel Valley wines are not aged in oak, resulting in a fresher, more delicate wine. As it’s quite early in the season (and winter has run on about six weeks later than usual), there are no grapes on the vines just yet. However, due to the long and slow growing season, Sam is confident that there will be an ample crop come harvest time.
The tour includes a glass of still wine, or you can upgrade to a glass of sparkling wine for an extra pound. (This pound actually goes straight to the Cornwall Air Ambulance, so upgrading has a double benefit!) We opt for the sparkling, sampling both the Rosé and sparkling Red. Both are delicious, but after a few sips of each I develop a clear preference for the Rosé. It is easy to see how previous vintages of this delectable wine, with soft, strawberry flavours and perfectly balanced acidity, have won top international awards. Mainly a red wine drinker, I typically find sparkling wines (including many Champagnes) to be too harsh and acidic for my taste. This, however, was sublime – without doubt the finest sparkling wine I have ever encountered. The sun peeped out from behind a cloud and, soothed by the bubbles and the warmth, I settled into a chapter of my book.
Our visit to Camel Valley was a delightful experience. As an added bonus, Sam kindly allowed us to fill our water tank from their hose and I collected a large basket of wild garlic on our way back down the valley.
Camel Valley Vineyard is located in Bodmin, Cornwall. The tour runs at 2:30pm daily (Monday to Friday) from April to September. Full details are available at www.camelvalley.com.
Please note: This is not a sponsored post.