Friday, February 02, 2007

Summer Wine

This is Leventhorpe, England's most northerly vineyard (for now), located on the top side of Leeds. Obviously it wasn't looking its best when I visited it on a blustery January morning, but the rather better established vineyards of Baden-W├╝rttemberg weren't looking exactly verdant when I visited before christmas either.
Leventhorpe is the work of this man, former industrial chemist and teacher George Bowden. His story's told here, in a piece in the Telegraph last year, and here at Sugarvine.com. He's a tremendously enthusiastic and knowledgeable chap, happy to talk at length about the subtleties of viniculture in a challenging climate.
It's hardly one of the great chateaus, with just six acres of vines and production based in a breezeblock shed at the bottom of the field. But they are producing very good stuff indeed. Leventhorpe wines have won a string of awards and competitions (not just against other English wines), and plaudits from folk like Oz Clarke and Rick Stein. Bowden's also managed to win official Yorkshire Regional Wine appellation status for his excellent Seyval Blanc.
After an extensive round of tasting alongside the grape press and tanks of developing vintage, we took home half a dozen assorted bottles, including one of their well-regarded sparkling (though not their rather idiosyncratic and very limited quantity red Triomphe). They're on the rack waiting for sunnier weather to make the most of their full, crisp flavours.

Thanks to Richard Jones for organising the visit.

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