Spurrier releases first wines

English wine-writing doyen Steven Spurrier (pictured) and his wife Bella were holidaying in Australia last week. The veteran columnist for Decanter magazine, chairman of the Decanter World Wine Awards tasting panel, wine consultant to Singapore Airlines, etc, etc, took in a show at the Sydney Opera House, among other things. 

Spurrier owned a wine shop in Paris, Les Caves de la Madeleine, in the 1970s and it was there that he staged the famous Paris Tasting, in which hitherto unknown Californian wines were pitted against the best of France, and soundly thrashed them. The tasters were largely French, but still the retort was “They might be fruity and flattering when young, but in 30 years the French wines will wipe the table with them.” Well, the tasting was reconvened 30 years later, in 2006, and the Americans won again. These tastings put wineries like Stags Leap Wine Cellars and Chateau Montelena on the world stage and opened Europe’s eyes to the previously unthinkable possibility that the New World could make wine as good as the Old. 

Spurrier was played by Alan Rickman in a very bad movie that was based on the story, called Bottle Shock. He tells me a new one is in the making, and this one will be accurate, as he’s working in an advisory capacity. 

Spurrier’s latest news is that he and Bella have released the first wines from their Dorset sparkling wine vineyard, Bride Valley. The property, on the same Kimmeridgian limestone soils as Champagne, is near Litton Cheney in South Dorset. 

Alas, he didn’t have a sample in his bag, but I’d be willing to lay money it’s good. Their first vintage was 2011 and they have a rosé, a blanc de blancs and a Cuvée Réserve (a blend of the three classic Champagne grapes) on the market. There’s no Australian allocation at present but you could keep an eye on www.bridevalleyvineyard.com. The English agent is Liberty Wines.

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