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Davenport Vineyards, Limney Estate, Brut, 2006

East Sussex may not be the first place on earth coming to mind when thinking of sparkling wine. And yet winemaker Will Davenport has had a lot of success with sparkling wines made in the classic champagne style since he started out with 5 acres of vineyards in Kent in 1991. I bought this wine from a wine bar/shop in South London that specialises in English and natural/organic wines - the Davenport sparkler happens to be both. The Limney Estate wine is made from 49% Pinot Noir and 51% Auxerrois and has been aged on lees for over 2 years, which seemed to make it an ideal candidate for a blind tasting against a German sparkler.

Let's start with the visual impression, a very shiny golden colour and lots of bubbles - promising so far. Next let's have a sniff. The impression is that of a ripe, oxidised wine, almost fermented with a noticeable acidity that reminded us strongly of apple cider. What really makes this one interesting though are the many small and somewhat unusual details such as a little honey lurking between dusty, almost musty notes - just think of clothes that have not been dried properly. Promising.

The impression of intriguing complexity continues on the tongue, with flavours ranging from musty and dusty to yeasty and roasty. It clearly had something baked to it, almost over-baked like a flan that was left in the oven for just a little too long. Character and body with a long zingy-dusty finish, the Limney estate has it all.

It was very interesting to try the wine with food, which brought out the acidity much more, making it appear less creamy. We had it with monkfish and scallops in a lime sauce and that worked very well. As did the wine overall. A very convincing showing from East Sussex!

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