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Discovering new Cornish wines

Posted on 26th June 2012 by ewwwebdev There have been 0 comments


Madeleine Angevine and Trevannion are both the work of up-and-coming winemaker James Thomas of Knightor Winery at Trethurgy near St Austell. The renovated farm buildings at Knightor house a modern winery, equipped with stainless steel tanks and French oak barrels. The fruit itself is primarily sourced from the two vineyards owned by Knightor, at Seaton in South East Cornwall and Portscatho on the Roseland peninsular, whilst the remainder is selected from various other local growers. Soils at the Knightor vineyards are predominantly light gravelly loams over slate/shale - known in Cornwall as Shillet. Vines are low yielding – typically around 1.5kg per vine and all fruit is hand-picked.

Knightor vineyards near the Cornish coast

Winemaker James Thomas describes the philosophy behind production:

"The winemaking differs slightly depending on the wine, but in general aims for purity and elegance, and strives to get to the fundamental character of each variety, presenting it as honestly as possible.  We don’t try to make any variety into something it isn’t. Instead we try to coax the best qualities and characteristics from the grapes."

James hails from the Isles of Scilly, where he helped to establish his family’s vineyard. His passion for winemaking took him to Australia, where he learnt about the techniques of New World production. Based for several years in the Melbourne area, James most recently worked on limited releases for leading producers in Victoria. His passion, bordering on obsession, is now bearing fruit at Knightor; these first vintages are impressive and promise more for the future.

The Madeleine Angevine grapes are gently whole bunch pressed to achieve as fine a juice as possible. A slow, cool fermentation retains freshness and delicacy.  The wine is very elegant with subtle gooseberry, nettle and elderflower aromas, with some floral and passion fruit notes.  The palate is fine and restrained with gentle acidity and good balance.

Trevannion (named after a family which owned the Knightor estate until 1840) is a blend of Siegerrebe, Pinot Blanc and Pinot Gris.  The Siegerrebe provides perfumed aroma and weight to the palate.  Pinot Blanc plays the role of lion-tamer, giving structure, length and elegance.  Pinot Gris provides texture and adds complexity.  The wine is quite powerfully aromatic; rosewater, lychee, tangerine, even hints of musk and spice.  It is fairly full bodied with plenty of fruit weight, and texture.  A slight grip on the finish provides surprising length.

These wines have great character and a sense of place caught in those aromas of nettles, gooseberry, elderflower – and a lovely crisp palate. Both wines are perfect for matching with seasonal, local food – the fantastic Cornish seafood we see all year round and at the moment things like asparagus, nettle, samphire and broad beans.

Knightor is well worth visiting, with a restaurant and shop, both of which focus on local produce. A sheltered courtyard outside the restaurant is perfect for al fresco dining and inside the threshing barn you'll find an atmospheric bar with a vaulted ceiling.


This post was posted in New Wines, Great Places, News

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