A producer who previously concentrated on fruit wines and spirits – Cherry Brandy, Elderberry Port and so forth – the Lyme Bay Winery began their ‘proper’ wine story back in 2007 with a decision to move to making wine from grapes.
“The search for land took a while. We first found a spectacular parcel of land at Watchcombe, just up the road from the Winery, and in the following year a larger parcel at Southcote, a few miles away.
In 2010 we planted 26,000 vines and with hard work we have been rewarded with an excellent harvest in August 2014”
The wines received their official launch in July 2015 in the tiny Hix Oyster and Fish House overlooking the bay at Lyme Regis. An ideal location as it transpired as the wines had a natural affinity with seafood.
The vines are new. At five years just beginning to produce workable grapes and can only improve as they age and the roots reach further down into the unique soils. The wines too should only get better with each passing vintage, weather apart. Remarkable then that the wines on show revealed a decent level of complexity,
The sparkling wine – Lyme Bay Brut Reserve 2013 – was shown without a bottle label and served in rather unflattering glasses was described as a ‘Prosecco style’; obviously looking at the current huge popularity of the Italian sparkler in the English market. Indeed it was very lemony, light and frothy with a hint or two of elderflower and benefited from the residual sugar (13g/l for those into the technical) to make it highly drinkable. With only 11% alcohol a fine aperitif and a great match with a fresh Brownsea Rock Oyster. Made from Seyval Blanc.
My favourite wine of the session was a Bacchus Fumé 2014 (£14.99 Christopher Piper Wines) wonderfully matched with De Beauvoir Smoked Salmon and Horseradish. The extra complexity and depth from that touch of oak made for a very elegant wine.
From a food and wine matching standpoint the Lyme Bay Bacchus 2014 (£14.20 Christopher Piper Wines) made for a stunning match with little Mushroom Galettes.
Bacchus Fume – a touch of oak adds complexity but doesn’t stifle the characteristic Bacchus aromas, my favourite of the Lyme Bay range, smoked salmon a must.
The Lyme Bay Shoreline 2014 (£13.86 Christopher Piper Wines), a blend of Seyval Blanc and Bacchus with a splash of Pinot Noir, is also low in alcohol at 11%. As Director James Lambert and Liam Idzikowski, Head Winemaker, explained they had huge fun playing and refining the blend. Their intention was for a wine designed specifically to accompany seafood. Fresh oysters were fine, better though was a Scrumpy Cider Battered Oyster served on a Watercress Mayonnaise. Divine.
I wasn’t hugely impressed by the Lyme Bay Pinot Noir Rosé 2014 (£14.39 Christopher Piper Wines) while the flavours were a little lacking it really didn’t have the sweetness to match, as they offered during the launch, with a Strawberry and Elderflower Fool on Shortbread.
Overall a fine first outing for a new English Wine Producer; one to watch as their experiments improve and refine the blends and those 26,000 vines grow, mature and produce ever improving quality grapes.
Photo Gallery: Lyme Bay English Wines
Update: A new website has been launched where full details of the wines can be read AND where you can purchase a bottle or two.