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Steven Spurrier to release England’s first crémant

British wine writer Steven Spurrier is to release England’s first crémant in November, using wines from his estate in Dorset.

Steven Spurrier at Bride Valley, which he planted on his wife’s sheep farm in Dorset in 2008

The French term ‘crémant’, meaning ‘creamy’, was classically used for sparkling wines with a lower pressure, and Spurrier’s new cuvée will have a pressure of 4.5 bar, as opposed to 6 – the standard for Champagne and English sparkling wine.

Speaking to the drinks business last week, Spurrier said that the decision to make a less fizzy English sparkling from his property in the southwest of England, called Bride Valley, was in fact driven by adversity.

“Because the 2015 vintage was so cold, we declassified the wines,” he recorded, although he did make a small quantity of Bride Valley sparkling rosé.

While most of the wine from this harvest won’t be used for English sparkling from Spurrier’s estate, he kept back the equivalent of around 7,500 bottles of wine in tank, a proportion of which he has blended with the 2016 vintage to create a slightly less fizzy version of Bride Valley sparkling.

Due to the unusually cool conditions of the 2015 vintage, the wines produced from the harvest were extremely acidic, prompting Spurrier to make a less fizzy wine, because a lower pressure sparkling wine has a softer sensation in the mouth.

“A crémant, as the French word suggests, is ‘creamy’, and so it should not be aggressive, and I am excited by this,” he said, referring to his new product, and solution to a cool vintage.

Continuing, he said that he has made a second blend of Bride Valley Crémant from the 15 and 17 vintages, and, told db that if he produces – as expected – a large crop of grapes this year, he will go on making it.

However, he stressed that the crémant would be in addition to, and not at the expense of his existing range of three sparkling wines (Brut Réserve, Blanc de Blancs and Rosé Bella), and would be priced at a similar level to his Brut Réserve today.

As a result, this latter sparkling wine will go up slightly in price in the future.

In terms of quantities, he said that he had around 9,000 bottles of his 2015 and 16 crémant blend, and 5,000 of the 15 and 17 cuvée. He is planning to release the first 1,000 bottles of the inaugural blend at the Liberty Wines tasting in November.

The crémant has spent 15 months ageing on its lees before disgorging. It was given a dosage of 9g/l, “which is high for me”, admitted Spurrier, but deemed necessary due to the high-acid base wines.

As the first English crémant, Spurrier said that he was applying for a protected designation of origin (PDO), which he told db was just a question of “paperwork”.

Concluding, he said, “I made it [the crémant] because I had to, but if it is popular, and I have the extra volume, then I will continue to make it.”

As previously reported by db, Spurrier is also considering making two still wines – a white made from Chardonnay and a red from Pinot Noir – from this year’s harvest.

Encouraging Spurrier to take such a step has been the incredibly warm, dry start to the growing season this year, which looks set to create the best and biggest crop in the modern history of English wine production.

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