Sparkling wine launched

We’re delighted to have received much interest and praise for our recently released Blanc de Blancs 2013.    Seven long years of waiting since planting our vines and I think its been worth it!   Reviews from both sommeliers and the public have been extremely positive….to read more click here.

 

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2016 Harvest finished…

The grapes are all picked and the juice is fermenting in our vats….soon the very first tank samples of our 2016 wines will be tasted.   The photo below shows our Bacchus grapes on their way from vineyard to winery – luckily for our grapes only a 5 minute journey which means they are in perfect condition when they are pressed.

harvest-2016-bacchus

Below shows the last load of Chardonnay grapes waiting in the press.  We all breath a sigh of relief at this point as the weather can throw no more problems at us….for this year at least!

last-press-load-2016-harvest

 

The 2016 harvest for us, like many other English vineyards, has been an excellent one in terms of grape ripeness and quality – but a disappointing one in terms of volume.  So we look forward to tasting the wines but warn you they will be in short supply!  The main problem was the wet and windy weather in June which led to disrupted flowering and fruit set on the vines compounded by high disease pressure.  Growing grapes in England is always going to be a challenge….that’s why  the wines are so special!

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2015 wines now on sale

In celebration of English Wine Week we have released our range of 2015 still wines – including a Cellar Selection blend of barrel-fermented Ortega and Chardonnay which was not produced in 2014.

Our hugely popular Bacchus continues to exhibit its hallmark pronounced aromas….although with more lime zest, grapefruit and ‘cut grass’ emphasis than in 2014.  With slightly higher acidity it delivers a super refreshing and zesty palate.

The Estate Selection blend has altered slightly to include a greater proportion of Pinot Gris – so is more similar to our 2013 version, offering some impressive texture and length; and our White Pinot Noir has a soft gentle colour and delicate aromas that will expand and develop over time in bottle.

Please do try them!

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Sleepless nights…..

As feared, I’ve been up at 2am for two days so far this week……as the recent cold blast hitting the UK has brought frosty nights threatening severe damage to the young emerging buds and shoots on the vines. As I watch the temperatures plummet towards zero I force myself out of bed and into the vineyard to light some 700 frost candles (‘bougies’) to help ward off the frost.   Dragging with me my new assistant, Mat, and my father in law, John, we stagger around the vineyard in the pre-dawn hours lighting the ‘bougies’ only to return a few hours later, once the sun has risen, to put them out again to conserve their precious resource should we need them another night.  The one consolation…it looks amazing!

Bougies alight and Moon Bougies at Dawn 2

I don’t think I’ve felt this tired since I had young children – and this is perhaps a good analogy – as having nutured and cared for every single one of my 41,000 vines since planting, I am compelled to do something to help them through the frosty nights – even if it means no sleep!     It is this type of care we put into the vineyard that we hope is reflected in their exceptional output – our wines…..

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Frost & Fear!

From rain we’ve moved onto cold and the coming week looks like a very worrying one for all English vineyards with the threat of frosts looming.  With the buds now out on the vines they are vulnerable to frost damage which can destroy an entire crop.  So it looks like a week of potential sleepless nights as our only defence is to light nearly 1,000 ‘bougies’ (frost candles) to warm the air sufficiently to prevent frost forming.  The only problem being this needs to be done at about 2am!  Volunteer anyone?!

In the meantime we have now bottled our 2015 still wines and they are resting in store awaiting release in mid-May in time for English Wine Week. This is just as well as we are now virtually sold out of all 2014 still wines.  If you’d like to be amongst the first to try our 2015 wines then please book a tour and tasting here during May or June.  Hope to see you then.

Best wishes

Alison

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Rain & Riddling….

Exciting news this week as we start riddling our first ever sparkling wine samples for dosage trails. This strange looking cage in the photo below is currently holding just one layer of bottles but when full will hold 500 bottles and over a period of 7 days is set to very steadily move the bottles from a horizontal position to vertical.  This is called ‘riddling’ and used to be done by hand!  This causes the dead yeast in the bottles from the second fermentation to sink to the crown cap so that when this cap is removed, the ‘plug’ of yeast cells is fired out of the bottle so when you come to drink it the sparkling wine will be clear and free of bits!
Riddling Cage

Before the cork is then put in the bottle we will need to add what the ‘champenoise’ call ‘dosage’.  This is generally a closely guarded secret blend of wine and sugar that not only tops up the bottle from any spillage during yeast removal, but also adds some sweetness to the wine to counterbalance the natural acidity of champagne.  So that we can decide how much, if any, sugar to add in this ‘dosage’ we are now undertaking trials at different levels and then tasting them…..a fun and interesting exercise!   Very, very few champagnes ever have no sugar added at this stage – and these maybe labelled ‘Zero Dosage’ or ‘Brut Nature’.  Most champagnes are labelled ‘Brut’ which means they contain up to 12g/L of sugars……education section over for this month!

Meanwhile in the vineyard the relentless rain continues…….we’ve yet to start the winter pruning but can’t put it off much longer.  The milder winter has also led to early bud swelling on the canes……how this will impact this seasons growth I’m not sure.  The only thing I am sure of is that all of us, fruit growers, farmers and householders, will have to get used to the consequences of global warming….more extreme rainfall events,  and I count my blessings we planted on free-draining sandstone geology!

 

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