Hi again…… I know 3 blogs in a week! and there is more next week too.
Astley vineyard is actually the closest vineyard to my home in Worcestershire. (40 mins south of the UK’s 2nd city Birmingham)
When I started to taste more English still wines at trade events I really had to go and visit Astley as they are 15 minutes from my house. I spoke with them on twitter for a while and then about 7 months ago in Jan 2018 I visited for the first time. I haven’t written about them until now because there were big plans afoot at Astley which will all come clear in this blog.
Astley used to be the most northerly vineyard in the WORLD! When it was established in the Severn Valley, Worcestershire, in 1971.
The terroir for this part of Worcestershire where the vineyard is planted is Triassic Sandstone and about 200 million years old (ish) this provides excellent drainage and a naturally high acidity in the wines also.
The vineyard is on an east facing slope located by a deep valley which draws away cold air, 1/2 mile away from the river Severn which also moderates the micro climate.
Below is a geo map of the county. Sandstone was used for many of the old buildings in the county too.
The original founders, the Bache family, planted varieties such as Madeleine Angevine and Siegerrebe decades before its potential in England was realised. Many of these vines still stand – including their unique 46 year old Kerner – providing ASTLEY now with almost unrivalled maturity and heritage. There is also Pinot Noir, used for blending and some chardonnay……. which is used for nothing as it never ripens enough! It is being replaced in the not to distant future.
Jonty Daniels who was a bit of a legend amongst small English wine producers owned the vineyard for over 24 years, and retired in July 2017.
He wasn’t going to sell to just anybody, they had to have the same vision & values for the little estate that he had. So in 2017 the Haywood family bought the vineyard and moved in, July 17′.
There are 5 Haywood’s in the Family that are involved passionately in this new venture/adventure.
Dad & Owner: Tim. Each time I have visited Tim is super busy getting his hands dirty and really getting stuck into every job on the estate. A far cry I’m sure from his past life as a Financial Director in the City.
Mum: Bev. The first time I met Bev she was pruning the vines in Jan. On their website it describes Bev as the lynch pin holding it all together. Bev if you are anything like my mother & I am sure that you are. We would all be lost without our Mums.
Son: Chris. Chris exudes passion for this project! A great guy and like the whole family 100% committed every day to anything that the vineyard requires. He spent 2 years at a luxury wine shop and is WSET Level 3 qualified, Chris is Astley’s wine man.
The Finnish Wife of Chris: Matleena, who is the business manager and accounts dept.
Daughter: Daisy. Resident Landscape Architect and artist. Daisy lends her creative eye to projects and looks after the estate woodland and gardens.
The previous owner Jonty always had the wine made at a large commercial vineyard but the Haywood’s have other plans completely. They want control over the whole process.
The first part of this I saw a few months ago, in early May, where the foundations for the new winery & the new tasting room & shop were getting underway.
Everything has changed at Astley…… well except for the vines!. Their new Astley branding for the business together with their new beautiful bottle labels are a credit to them. A collaboration with the very talented team at Wearebeard, based in Worcester. In fact I must get in touch with them to get new pietrovini branding!
New nature inspired labels incorporating the wildlife around the vineyard. Please click on any of the bottles above to get much larger image. It will open a new page.
So now in July, just a few short months after the start of new buildings, the new shop and tasting room are complete. The winery will be finished imminently.
So the new tasting room has a great layout including a bar!, plenty of tables and seating and even a quite corner to relax in too.
The whole ethos of what the Haywood’s are doing at Astley is a credit to them, they understand that they are a boutique winery with only 5 acres of vines, they will never make much more than 10,000 bottles per year. So to that end they have made the whole vineyard extremely visitor friendly, from walking through the woodland to the vineyard, or just popping in to have a glass of their wine on the new terrace. (Licence will be in place within weeks.) They will also be opening as a bar once or twice a month on a Friday or Saturday night, ticket only to enjoy their wines. Check website for updates.
Not only are they doing their own wine tasting sessions but Chris is providing monthly tastings for other wines from all over the world too. Sometimes these are just tasting nights but also they are doing gourmet food nights with wine matching each course. Which are quite the event.
Starting with a quick tour of the vines with Chris and some Q&A too.
Then a stroll up through the vines to the huge Teepee where the wines and delicious food is served.
These events will take place frequently, there are 3 over the next few weeks. Take a look at the website link https://www.astleyvineyard.co.uk/events if you fancy a great night in the vines. Perfect Summer BBQ wines, Natural wines & the KERNER tasting experience which is not to be missed.
Join the Haywood family for a special exploration of the Kerner grape. Focusing on wines made from Kerner, you will taste an exclusive range of wines both from their private collection, as well as from Astley Vineyard’s unreleased stocks. Unlike their other events, you will sit down with their entire family and explore wine as a group.
About time I started talking about their delicious wines.
Madeleine Angevine 2016 or “MAD ANGIE” as is sometimes known in the UK.
Grapes: Madeleine Angevine
Residual Sugar: 7.6 g/L
Total Acidity: 9.2 g/L
A delicate wine floral on the nose, on the palate grapefruit with a touch of peachy notes too. On the finish the there is crisp acidity with a little mineral note too. A real citrus blast of a wine. a real foodie wine.
RRP £ 11.00 Bargain!
Severn Vale 2016
Grapes: Bacchus, Madeleine Angevine, Kerner & tiny drop of Oaked Sauvignon Blanc too.
Residual Sugar: 10.2 g/L
Total Acidity: 8.4 g/L
This is a fabulous light summer wine for sitting out on the patio in the sunshine. Off dry. On the nose its apples all the way! On the palate ripe fruit with a crunchy green apple freshness delighting with a light floral note, which then leads to more rich tropical notes and citrus acidity from the MAD ANGIE and Kerner on the finish. The SB in the wine gives a little roundness on the finish, but as its only about 2% its not made it feel oaky in anyway shape or form.
RRP £ 10.00
Grapes: Siegerrebe & Bacchus
Residual Sugar: 3.8 g/L
Total Acidity: 6.1 g/L
This is quite a big wine on the nose with a multitude of huge tropical fruit flavours filling the nose which makes you desperate to taste. Super fruity wine, yet dry. Mango, pineapple, passionfruit with the zest of limes. An absolute delight. In fact I drank one last night.
This wine is a great aperitif however it will be stunning with Asian food, spiced foods or as I had last night crab pâté on granary toast with ripe tomatoes.
RRP £ 16.00
Residual Sugar: 9.7 g/L
Total Acidity: 8.5 g/L
For those of you who have not heard about Bacchus, well for me it’s to England what Sauvignon Blanc is to NZ.
It’s a crisp & dry wine, it’s packed with flavours of elderflower, kiwi fruit, lime, grapefruit and crisp green apples. All this fruit flavour yet dry but with a good acidity and a lingering finish too. Every time I taste this wine new flavours appear its a really delicious wine.
RRP £ 16.00
Old Vine Kerner 2015
Grapes: Kerner from 45 yr old vines
Residual Sugar: 10.3 g/L
Total Acidity: 8.8 g/L
For me without a doubt this is Astley Vineyards flagship wine. Its truly wonderful, I cant quite get my head round the fact that its from Worcestershire and 15 minutes from my house!
Slightly off dry this wine is elegant on the nose with fresh elderflower & honeysuckle. On the palate its white peaches, elderflower, a zestyness of freshness too. On the end it has a little nutty and spicey touch too.
I was and am a big fan of this wine. I bought this wine, then went back within a few days to get a case. It definitely has some aging potential too.
RRP £ 19.50
Vintage Spakling Kerner 2014
Residual Sugar: 11.8 g/L
Total Acidity: 9.8 g/L
Now I’m going to review this when the next vintage comes out as its not now for sale as its all been sold.
What’s interesting it’s really a great English Sparkling wine that is not made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier.
RRP £ 28.50 SOLD OUT (SORRY)
But you can have by the glass in Central London at the Coral Rooms at the Bloomsbury hotel.
Images above were taken by me this morning 5th Aug 2018. 46 year old Kerner vines and this years crop so far.
There are great plans a foot and the grape press is being delivered tomorrow, so I will keep you informed about Astley’s new in house winery too.
I wrote this because I love what they are doing at Astley and their wines.
I bought their wines myself and have not been paid to write this blog nor do I have any affiliation.
Astley Vineyard – https://www.astleyvineyard.co.uk/
Wine GB. https://www.winegb.co.uk/
We Are Beard ( Label and logo designers) https://www.wearebeard.com/