Sparkling success story

saffronbunny-food-blogger-cornwallMrs Lindo occupies herself with 8,000 vines out of the 20,000 Camel Valley vines and has been doing so for the last twenty years. This equates to the tender loving care of about 100 vines a day up to harvest time. Mr (Bob) Lindo started out on the farm crawling on his side, mending electric fences after a back-breaking (literally) ejection from a plane while in the RAF. His son, Sam, according to Bob, was “born in a barrel” and is capable of harvesting a tonne of grapes a day, a feat which would render any mortal human incapable of getting out of bed the next day. My suspicion is that the Lindo family are ever so slightly super-human.

They have pulled off such a plethora of awards which include: best rosé at the Italian World Sparkling Wine Championships 2010 (yes world); Winemaker Of The Year 2011 (again) and are equipped with such a long list of accolades and trophies that I set out from Bodmin last week determined to discover the Lindo/Camel formula.

The vineyard is sandwiched between Bodmin and Wadebridge in Nanstallon. But none of these names do justice to the tree tunnelled lanes that take you deep into the Cornish countryside. So deep in fact, that I wonder on arrival whether we haven’t actually crossed the Channel Tunnel and come out somewhere on the continent. Because on a sunny Cornish day, the vine filled-fields of the Camel Valley, topped with blossoming roses and a terrace full of happy wine quaffers, is far more francais than anglais. It is also by far the best stop off for intrepid cyclists on the Camel Trail.

It is the sparkling (rosé and white) that has won Camel Valley its biggest accolades and Bob briefly runs through the creation story. “Our aim is to make a distinctively Cornish/English champagne, we aren’t replicating the French champagne, we don’t need to.” After sorting the grapes, they are crushed, de-stemmed and pressed; the resulting juice is then fed through to tanks pre-filled with CO2. Temperature is crucial at this stage so as to avoid oxidation. The resulting sediment is fed to the cows on a neighbouring farm (whose milk yield incidentally has increased by 11%) and the manure from the same cows is then spread back onto the Lindo fields.

The fermentation process follows, during which a cuvée blend (the magic ingredient), yeast and sugar are added and again, temperature is vital. Detail, absolute precision and supervision all day and night occur at this stage as nothing can be undone. The pressure within the bottle of a sparkling wine will reach up to three times that of a car tyre. During fermentation, the distinct Camel Valley flavours will develop and the longer it is left, the stronger the flavours. After 15 or 16 months, the sediment is ‘disgorged’ and a cork inserted and Cornish champagne is ready to fly its way across the world.

The secret of the Lindo/Camel story is simple: a whole lot of hard work from an exceptional and dedicated workforce with some Cornish sunshine thrown in and compliance from Mother Nature at crucial moments. Result: award-winning wines, freshly scented and full of the florals of the Cornish countryside, good enough to serve at the wedding of a prince and princess.

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