Devon’s Finest Vineyards
In this article, Stephen Barrett introduces us to some of Devon’s finest vineyards. There’s even a recipe which you will enjoy trying out.
It was a welcome sight at Bistro One when one of my excellent wine merchants Charles Steevenson in Tavistock offered me a couple of samples of the newest wines now in production in Devon. Charles and his team have become experts with English wine knowledge for the past ten or so years.
At another tasting of local wines I recently discovered a relatively new winery in Kenton near Starcross. After the impressive tasting (more of the tasting notes later) I decided to search out the vineyard to see for myself first hand how they were fairing.
This winery is the brainchild of Matthew and Jo Bernstein, who have successfully converted some rather run-down farm buildings into a terrific tasting room and visitors centre plus of course the fledgling winery.
The aspect of the vines at Kenton Vineyard face south and south west on sandy free-draining soils very reminiscent of vineyards on the River Loire, with the constant influence of the nearby river, a major factor.
The varietals Matthew has chosen to plant are Ortega for the white and Rondo and Pinot Noir for the red and rose.
Ortega is a most interesting choice as his flagship white as it is little used in the UK originating in Franken in Germany it is a cross between Muller-Thurgau and Siegerrebe. The vines at Kenton are now three years old and mature enough to produce the first (2006) vintage; and the taste?
My notes over a three-day period were very complementary with a nose of delicate hedgerow fruit reminiscent of spring blossom. The ensuing taste of elderflower and spicy white pepper proved a balanced young wine with great potential. At Bistro One we are recommending the wine with new seasons Asparagus or the magical Traditional Soused Mackerel for an excellent early summer treat.
The Rose is a delicate and fruity wine with a powerful mid-palate, suitable on its own or with simple seasonal salads such as Salad Nicoise or perhaps barbequed Tuna. The Estate Red is a brambly scented wine still in the throws of youth. Right now the brambly notes denote youth and vitality but given a couple of years the vines will bury themselves deeper in their soil giving complexity and minerality. I would serve this wine at cellar temperature with lightly spiced poultry for a lovely summer treat.
To obtain any of these exclusive wines why not go to the vineyard and experience the atmosphere and ‘soak up the wine?’ Call Matthew on 01626 891 091 or go to www.kentonvineyard.co.uk
Sharpham Estate Vines
Two other wines I am currently enjoying are the excellent Sharpham Dart Valley Reserve 2007 (again @ Charles Steevenson wines 01822 616 272) showing excellent colour with a concentrated elderflower and light spicy finish. Vines from Sharpham Estate are now mature and really show true depth of flavour from this excellent vineyard.
Lastly Yearlstone No 1 from Bickley nr Tiverton grown on south-west facing slopes from grapes originally planted in the late 1960’s. This is an excellent site producing quality whites that are presently showing very well with a brilliant range of citrus and floral fruit flavours. Try with local goat’s cheese!
As with the other Devon wineries, Yearlstone is open to visitors and sports a smashing bistro providing just the spot to idle away a lazy day overlooking the vines whilst sampling their hand-crafted wines.
You will see from this sketch of our local wines they have come a long way in a short time which I for one support and enjoy.
As I mentioned above the wonderfully traditional Soused Mackerel is a brilliant Springtime recipe and perfect with Devon wines.
RECIPE: Soused Mackerel
For two persons
2 Mackerel cleaned, fins and head removed
Casserole dish or similar oven proof dish
- Vegetables – 1 carrot, 1 small onion, 1 stick of celery or leek, rough cut
- Small bunch parsley
- Half a lemon cut into wedges
- Half teaspoon peppercorns or chillies
- Two bay leaves
- White wine or cider vinegar
After cleaning and drying the Mackerel, place in the casserole with all the vegetables, lemon wedges, torn parsley, bay leaves and peppercorns or chillies. Top up with equal amounts of vinegar and water. Seal with the lid or close with foil. Place in a medium hot oven and cook for 25/30 minutes. Remove from oven – do not remove the lid – cool and refrigerate until the cider/water mixture sets. Remove fish when required, split the fish in two and remove the backbone. Serve with salad and maybe warm new potatoes including the soused vegetables.
About Stephen Barrett
Stephen Barrett is a Wine and Food Writer, Broadcaster and Restaurateur based at his Restaurant Bistro One in Plymouth’s Ebrington Street.