What do you do to treat the special woman in your life? Give chocolates? Always acceptable. Offer flowers? Yes, that’s charming. Do the washing up? Now you are talking! But how about some old-fashioned pampering? A pairing of a Long Barn lavender candle and soap with a glass of Pommery English sparking wine on the edge of a soothing bubble bath is just about perfect.
Long Barn is more than just a barn, it’s a lavender estate. Close to the historic cathedral city of Winchester, and surrounded by fragrant lavender, Long Barn is situated on a site which, since the Middle Ages, was used to pen herds of sheep. I am sure those fields are both more fragrant and more colourful these days.
Lavender can calm the nerves
The company grows over a hundred varieties of lavender in the heart of Hampshire. The lavender collection holds National Collection status in association with Plant Heritage. They offer delightful products ranging from handmade lavender shortbread to the aforementioned scented candles and soap. Traditional folk medicine says that the fragrance of some plants such as lavender can calm the nerves.
Long Barn is worth a visit to enjoy the lavender fields, the café and some gift shopping. Many products are available online.
But what of that glass of fizz to relax still further? The House of Pommery was the first to produce an English sparkling wine, initially using grapes from Hampshire-based growers, and now harvesting from its own vines in that area, which is becoming known for its English wines. There are more than 450 wineries in England and around 3.15m bottles are produced per year, much of it from the south and southeast.
Perfect growing medium for vines
Award-winning Louis Pommery is produced on the Pinglestone Estate from a 40-hectare site where the chalky soil offers the perfect growing medium for vines. Pommery has 30 hectares of vineyard, planted between 2017 and 2019 with the classic Champagne trio of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Meunier vines. Three years after the first vines were planted, Pommery brought in its first ever grapes harvested on UK soil.
Clément Pierlot, Champagne Pommery Chef de Cave and head of winemaking for Louis Pommery England, comments: “I have been involved with this project since its inception and it has been very exciting to explore the growing of vines and winemaking in the UK. As soon as myself and Mr Vranken came across Pinglestone Estate we knew this was the right location for our vines, we felt it was extremely special land and the first vintage has proven exceptional.”
In the glass, Louis Pommery England offers white fruit with a hint of white blossom on the nose. On the palate it has tart apple to the fore with fresh citrus and nectarines adding a balance, the bubbles well-integrated and lingering. The finish is pleasing with a suspicion of wet stones. This excellent sparkling wine works well with light seafood, grilled vegetables and soft fruits.