Supplier Focus – the English Oak Vineyard, Dorset

Lytchett Matravers – it sounds like something out of an episode of Midsomer Murders, doesn’t it? And on first appearances, that’s not so wide of the mark. Six miles from the centre of Poole, nestled among oak-lined hilltops and traditional country hedgerows, it couldn’t be a more traditionally English landscape.

Until you spy the distinctly Mediterranean-looking avenues of grapevines lining fields on the edge of the village. This is the English Oak vineyard, 23 acres of fertile terroir perched in a sunny, elevated position overlooking the sea and the Purbeck hills, producing crisp, lemony Chardonnays and warm, smooth Pinots on land that was previously lush green pasture.

The vineyard’s deliciously elegant sparkling Chinkapin Rose 2010 has been gracing our menu here at Arbor, the 2 AA-rosette restaurant housed at the Green House Hotel in Bournemouth, for the past year.

As a restaurant founded on principles of sustainability, with a three-star maximum rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, Arbor aims to source all our food and drink as locally as possible, to minimise our carbon footprint and support local, independent producers. And that goes for the wine too.

And to be honest, it doesn’t get much more sustainable than this – our English Oak wine is delivered direct to the door of the Green House Hotel by electric car.

English Oak is a perfect example of the supplier philosophy we have here at the Green House Hotel, a sustainable tourism Gold Trophy winner in the Dorset Tourism Awards. We pride ourselves on being the UK’s most eco-friendly luxury boutique hotel. Underpinning this is the nurturing of ethical, mutually beneficial relationships with local artisan producers wherever possible. In the case of English Oak, Green House staff have even been roped in to some grape picking!

Sarah and Andrew Pharoah planted the vineyard in 2007, after qualifying in viticulture at Plumpton College in Sussex, and soon contracted the experience and expertise of winemaker Dermot Sugrue. A variety of 14 different Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay clones and rootstocks have been planted on English Oaks’ sunny slopes to emulate the complex blends that characterise the finest French Champagne. Dermot’s winemaking closely mirrors the traditional “méthode Champenoise” process, too, where concern for quality always overrides quantity.

Starting with careful site selection and low-density planting, painstaking hand-picking is followed by gentle pressing in a traditional Coquard press where slow, progressive and regular pressure is applied to extract the best Cuvee.

For the Chinkapin Rose, the wine remains in the vat for 12 months, before being blended with precisely the right quantity of red wine, set aside from the vineyard, to achieve its subtle rosy hue.

Can there be anything quite as seductive as popping open an occasion bottle of delicate pink fizz, knowing it has been lovingly and carefully produced a stone’s throw from your table and delivered by hand?  Make it even more special by letting us arrange an afternoon tour of the vineyard for you during your stay at the Green House. You will hear all about the planting, growing and making, followed – of course – by a tasting. Tour vouchers are available too if you want to surprise someone with a really special, ethical gift.

Call us on 01202 498900 to arrange a stay at the Green House with vineyard tour or to book a table at our Arbor restaurant.

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