RESERVED!

Hi Folks

Well¬† “Have I got NEWS for you”¬† and also a first to ever be done in the UK.

It all started when myself and Jeremy Palmer (from Barbados – @JeremyPalmer7¬† – Twitter) got into a conversation around Christmas time last year as he was seeing Rathfinny English sparkling wines on twitter and social media and couldn’t get any. We jokingly said they should sell it En-Primeur and then a big conversation ensued……. everyone in the wine industry then commented….. its not the done thing!. Mark Driver owner of Rathfinny then commented…. well that’s an interesting idea, he obviously had other thoughts.

Well TODAY it’s turned from an idea to reality.¬† 26th July YES TODAY!! the Rathfinny website or cellar door will have a new option.

RATHFINNY RESERVED.

This new service will give private individuals the opportunity to reserve cases of Rathfinny Classic Cuvee Sussex Sparkling wine a few years before it is released onto the general market.

Since launching their first wines last year they have been so popular it’s nearly impossible to purchase by the case.

Last weekend I returned to the estate to talk to Mark about RESERVED. I need to give Mark & Sarah Driver and of course my mate Richard James a huge thank you as they have asked me….yes little old me to make this huge initial announcement… because it started with that Christmas conversation on twitter.

Its a brand new wine too, and I was privileged to be the first person outside of a select  few at the winery to taste the 2017 Classic Cuvee last weekend.  Its tasting superbly after 1 year and is going to be a truly amazing Sussex sparkling wine when launched.

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Obviously it wont have a crown cap and it will be labelled prior to delivery

 

The wine for Rathfinny RESERVED will be the Classic Cuvee 2017. The 2016 Cuvee is being launched next year but the RESERVED will be for 2021 delivery as the 2016 does not have the volume of wine to start such an innovative project.

So some basic facts about RESERVED.

  1. 2017 Classic Cuvee is 66% Pinot Noir, and 17% each of Chardonnay and Pinot Muenier.
  2. 800  x 6 bottle cases made available for RESERVED.
  3. In Regular 75cl bottles or 150cl magnums.
  4. Minimum 4 cases per customer.
  5. Available Summer 2021

So your options are as follows:

A minimum of 4 x 6 bottle cases of CC 16. or 4 x 150cl Magnum 3 bottle cases or have a mix up of both….the best idea!

RESERVED is only 4800 bottles that are being offered on it’s release so it’s going to be first come first served, this allocation will sell out fast. There is no maximum that you can buy.

The 2017 Classic Cuvee is an exceptional vintage for the estate, however most vineyards in the UK, and most of northern Europe including Champagne and Rioja had huge problems with the frost in April 2017. The week commencing the 23rd April there were three frosts… the 26th was the worst and down to -6c over most of the south coast where the largest vineyards are in the UK. Most producers got hit hard (some as much as 30-40% loss) as the vines were well into bud after a pretty good spring. Rathfinny is set in the Cradle valley, the estate meanders down to the estuary of the sea. What this does is draw away the cold from the vines. Rathfinny lost 1-2% only in 17′ vintage, due to its south facing and proximity to the coast.

After this early budburst the grapes benefitted from a long ripening period and a phenomenal ‚ÄėIndian summer‚Äô, with unseasonably warm September weather producing fantastic ripe fruit, with great flavours, balanced acidity and sugar levels.

 So how does Rathfinny Reserved work in practice?

Rathfinny ‚ÄėReserved‚Äô wine has spent its first year in the bottle. The wine will spend a further two years lying in the bottle ‚Äėon-lees‚Äô in their temperature-controlled cellar, allowing the ‚Äėautolytic‚Äô flavours to develop. They plan to disgorge the wine at the beginning of 2021, removing the yeast lees and will then release the wines to ‚ÄėReserved‚Äô customers in the summer of 2021.

The wine can be purchased from today under “In Bond”, what this means is that you only pay for the wine on your initial purchase. MR UK GOVERNMENT will then have to be paid (Duty and VAT) once you release your wines from Bond in 2021.

So why would you do this…..

a) You get an allocation of the RESERVED WINE

b) It Actually works out cheaper

So what do you pay?

The price of the wine is £19 per 75cl bottle or £39 per 150cl Magnum, exclusive of excise duty and VAT. Once the wines are released, excise duty and VAT will be payable.

So to take delivery of your wine…. unfortunately you then have to pay her Majesty’s revenue and customs (HMRC) = Government some dough! Current duty rates for sparkling wines for the UK are ¬£ 2.86 per 75cl bottle and then you add 20% Vat. So under current tax arrangements, which can always be changed by HMRC it works out that for each 75cl bottle it will cost ¬£26.23 and each magnum would cost ¬£53.66.¬† The wine will retail for ¬£29/¬£30 (for 75cl bottle) once on general release, so quite a cost saving overall. However, rates of excise duty and VAT are subject to change by the UK government at any time.¬†

Well you can buy these wines direct from the Rathfinny website with your plastic flexible friend as of right now 26/07/2019 or order at the cellar door at the vineyard directly.

You don’t have to worry once you place your order as Rathfinny take very good care of your wine for the next 2 years, while its developing nicely. Rathfinny will remain responsible for insuring the wine at the original invoice value until you collect or request delivery. Ownership of the wines will pass on settlement of all outstanding charges.

When can I get my mits on my purchases I hear you ask….

The wines will be disgorged in early 2021 and then rest in the bottle for a few months, you will then be notified by email when the wine is available for collection or delivery. Generally Rathfinny release their vintages in May or early June.

So you get your email, pay Rathfinny the tax which they sort with HMRC for you and you collect your wine or they will deliver world wide, obviously delivery is at normal shipping rates. The wines need to be collected within one month of the notification or they may start to charge storage fees on your bottles!

If you are an international customer these wines can be purchased free from United Kingdom VAT and duty. However your country will also have rates for duty and tax per bottle which will need to be applied by the shipping agent before they would deliver to your address. These vary across the globe and if you ask Mr Goggle nicely and I’m sure he will have the rates for your country for importing wine.

You may have noticed I mentioned I had the opportunity to taste this 2017 Classic Cuvee  with last weekend, Mark very kindly left the bottle with the tasting room staff so we could finish it off with dinner.

So what is it like?

Well you have to understand that this wine is only 1 year into its three year aging, but after only one year this wine is already spectacular. When I tasted the wine it had not yet had dosage added (added sugars).

On the nose it’s pears and red apples with a vibrant perlage. The palate is fresh and rich with summer fruit which then turns to cherry on the finish…. which goes on and on. I cannot believe that this wine is zero dosage at this stage.

Rathfinny will be adding dosage to the wine before release but as usual for them it will be only for balance and structure and not trying to add new flavours to the wine with sugar.

What’s interesting is that Rathfinny dosage is generally low 3-6g per litre. Brut Champagne will usually be between 9 & 12g per litre. If you want to experiment yourselves get a litre of water and add 6g of sugar….. Most of our palates can’t ever notice it!

Hope you love the wine in 2021!

Salute

Here is Mark Driver talking about Rathfinny RESERVED

 

Here is the link for RESERVED on the Rathfinny website.

https://rathfinnyestate.com/rathfinny-reserved

Website and social media links for Rathfinny below:

https://rathfinnyestate.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/RathfinnyEstate

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rathfinnyestate

 

DISCLAIMER:

I’m not being paid by Rathfinny for this blog. I am a huge advocate of the fabulous English sparkling wine industry, especially with what Rathfinny are doing. I will always promote free of charge for great wines and wineries. Rathfinny did provide me with overnight¬† accommodation as I live 200 miles away.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuscan Heaven at Campochiarenti

Hi Again

Just over 30 miles south of Florence lies the beautiful hilltop town of San Gimignano, with majestic towers and stunning vistas across the Tuscan countryside.

Six miles east you will find the beautiful tiny hamlet of Campochiarenti.

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Image Courtesy of Daniele from Campochiarenti

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The Campochiarenti history begins at the end of the 10th century when the church of Saint Nicholas was built (finished in 998).

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The Church still stands here today 1021 years later.

Inside the chapel is very tranquil, it even has a tiny confessional booth, I didn’t use as we could have been in there all day…. Forgive me father but I have consumed the odd glass of Vino…. on a daily basis….like forever….haha

This church is named in the ‚ÄúBulla pontificalis‚ÄĚ (official document signed by the Pope) made by Pope Alessandro II in 1070. The power of the owners increased between 1100-1200 because of its alliance with San Gimignano.

San Gimignano was in allegiance with Siena, which was a power house of a city in Italy at that time, however always at war with Florence. The Florentines wanted produce and San Gimignano was rich with spices and oil so Campochiarenti became the go between. The small hamlet around the church was originally built as a convent, which then became the trading point for the Florentines.

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Wine & olive oil has been sold from this site since 1276. Vernaccia is one of the most important wines in Tuscan history as over the centuries it has maintained the same single grape variety and quality characteristics.

Today the estate is owned, including the little church, by Daniele, the estate was bought by his father back in 1977. He then started renovating the hamlet and bringing the vineyard back to its former glory as it was not in the best of condition. Nearly all the vines were replaced 40 years ago with better clones which they knew would enable more control of the quality of wine. Additionally there were also more vines planted ten years ago. The estate is just over 120 acres, 34 of which are the vineyards, there are also about 1000 olive trees.

Sangiovese and Vernaccia di San Gimignano are the main grapes planted, although Colorino, Canaiolo, Mammolo, Ciliegiolo & Foglia Tonda also used in small parts with the Sangiovese for the Chianti Colli Senesi DOCG.

Vernaccia di SG is a single variety wine although they have a few different clones on the estate enabling small changes to the flavour profile and structure when making the wine.

Over the last 25 years the vines have been treated by cutting out any infection, using a chainsaw very carefully I might add, to keep the old clones alive and well.

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Incredibly the rot was cut from this 40 year old vine using a chainsaw. It has deep roots in this Tuscan terroir and amazingly produces fabulous fruit.

It’s about low production, the main concentration is top quality fruit. There are no weed killers used, all the weeds are mechanically or manually removed. They are not an organic vineyard as they sometimes use products to deal with pests or disease. Daniele believes for the best grapes its important to minimise the affect of any products used. It’s about using the 1000 years of experience of many generations with these ancient varieties for the best results.

The key word here is NATURAL, the wines are made as naturally as possible with minimum intervention in the vineyard and with the winemaking.

These images above are from the nightly digging of the Cinghiale, WILD BOAR! They like digging for the roots of the weeds, lets hope they leave the grapes alone.

Their terroir is made up mostly of sand and lime soil, although millions of years ago this area was under water…. it was the sea. Because of that it has very rich mineral soil with many fossils of sea creatures in it too. This provides a beautiful minerality to the wines.

On to the winery,

For a fairly small production winery, Campochiarenti has everything in house, from the grape press, tanks & barrels, to bottling the wines and of course storing them for aging too.

As you walk into the tank & barrel room its quite impressive as the first thing you see are large HL95 (12,000 Bottles) concrete tanks that were built in 1956.

As you can see from this huge tank 12k bottle tank the wall thickness of the concrete is about 10 inches so the temperature inside is very stable no matter what the outside temperature is. The outside of the tank is painted in a light colour to add more light in thee winery and to deflect heat also.

These tanks have a special non transferring resin coating specifically for wine due to the high acidity when the wine is fermenting. This coating allows the tank to be meticulously cleaned for the next use, as after clarification the deposits need to be blasted out so its squeaky clean inside. Although there is a hatch in the top to allow access inside I really wouldn’t want to be in there to clean it!! Claustrophobia would soon set in.

The grape process for these tanks is quite simple.

  1. Sort Grapes
  2. Crush Grapes
  3. Put in the tank…‚Ķ and that’s it!
  4. Finally before removing it is treated with a natural product which is called Bentonite which clarifies the wine so it becomes clear. This has to be done for the Italian classification of the DOCG as the wine has be clear in appearance.
  5. No ADDED SULPHITES!

In this part of the winery there are also various sizes of steel tanks and large Slavonian Oak barrels.

Daniele uses large format oak barrels up to 20HL (2660 bottles) from Garbelloto who are based in Conegliano, Veneto in northern Italy. These guys know something about barrels…. they have been making them since 1775. It is key that the barrel room has high humidity to prevent evaporation within the oak barrels as without humidity you can lose up to 50 litres per year.

I asked Daniele, why do you use large format barrels and not Barriques that I see so often in my travels around Italy.

“For me its about producing more traditional wines, a large barrel allows more control over a longer period of time. A barrique barrel at 300 bottles is nearly 9 times smaller than the barrels we use and only has a wall thickness of 20 to 24mm so the wine has far more contact with the oak. With our large format 20HL (2660 bottle) barrels there is a lot less contact with the oak and the wall thickness is 40-70mm so the flavour from the oak is softer and a much slower evolution of the flavours in the wines. For us it’s an ancient tradition of using the large barrels”

Onto the bottle aging room, where the magic finishes in the bottle.

What is very clear here is that Daniele is doing something extraordinary compared with most of the producers in the area.

The reason I say this is most people making Vernaccia di San Gimignano are releasing the wine within 6-9 months and meant to be consumed within 1-2 years…‚Ķ as opposed to Daniele that wouldn’t even dream of releasing that early as the Vernaccia is still in the making.

Proof of this was the 2009 we had during the tasting.

The tasting will be in part 2 next week.

Ciao

https://www.campochiarenti.it/

twitter: https://twitter.com/campochiarenti

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/campochiarenti/

Just for the record I have become good friends with Daniele over the last few years and have enjoyed some great meals and wines together in Florence, however I am writing this completely unpaid and because he makes epic wines!!

Jackson Family Wines – Part 1 V√©rit√©

Hi all,

A few weeks ago I was extremely privileged to be invited to the prestigious Dorchester Hotel in Mayfair, London for a very special wine tasting. A tasting to celebrate the release of the 2015 Vérité wines.

V√ČRIT√Č & CARDINALE¬†

Well, this was not going to be any old wine tasting.

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Vérité Chalk Hill Vineyard

Vérité & Cardinale are epic wines with huge reputations too.

If you drink (and taste a lot more) a few bottles of wine a year like me (I KNOW!! Understatement of the year) you will surely know of the Jackson family wines in the USA, hugely famous for its Chardonnay. I knew a little bit but thought I must do a bit of research for information before I go to this great tasting.

So here is a brief of history into JFW. You can check out loads more on their website https://www.jacksonfamilywines.com/en/timeline

1974 Jess Jackson buys 80-acre pear and walnut orchard in Lake County and replants to grapes.

1983 Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay

Kendall-Jackson debuts with 1982 vintage Vintner’s Reserve Chardonnay and wins first-ever Double Platinum Award in the American Wine Competition.

From 1986 to the present day they acquired many vineyards across California, Oregon, Tuscany, Bordeaux, Chile, South Africa and Australia. 

In 1991 the Jackson family purchased a stave mill in France to guarantee high-quality French oak barrels.

2003 Jess was selected by Robert Parker Jr. as wine personality of the year, and won a lifetime achievement award in 2007. 


2011_jess

Sadly on April 21st 2011 Jess passed away.

 

 

Tasting at the Dorchester Hotel.
The Tasting was compared by Patrick Schmitt MW, the wine maker behind Vérité РPierre Seillan, The Jackson Family master Sommelier Dimitri Mesnard and Barbara Banke Рfounder and Chairman and her daughter Julia Jackson.
We started the afternoon with Vérité 2015.
Winemaker Pierre walked us through the vintage of 2015. What stood out immediately is that this was going to be an epic vintage. He explained that in 49 vintages making wine this was certainly one of his finest, definitely in the top 3!.
The weather meant that the grapes were ready to harvest earlier than ever before at the end of August for the first of the 50 micro crus used in the wine, ending the harvest on September 12th. Yields were modest in small clusters but had quality and good concentration making the 2015 harvest outstanding.
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He went on to explain about the micro crus further, how the different elevations, aspects and the make up of the soil on each hillside has its impact on the wines. 
So each of the micro crus are harvested by hand and fermented separately, then barreled in French oak, which have also have been toasted in different ways to suit each wine. This allows Pierre hundreds of options to make sure that the final blending of the 3 wines is perfect. 
Pierre uses the term micro-cru to define his approach, which is to find the very best of each particular plot within an already outstanding vineyard
His passion exudes when he is talking about Vérité, 21 years making this wine and why it is an incredibly special wine indeed.
Vérité (the French word for TRUTH) comes in 3 wines. La Muse, La Joie & La Désir 
These wines are a combination of old-world experience with new world fruit. The grape varieties are all tradition Bordeaux grapes. Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. Although Bordeaux varieties this is no copy of Bordeaux, these wines stand tall by themselves.

La Muse.

Merlot dominated like the Pomerol wines of the Right Bank style in Bordeaux.
Merlot 90%, Cabernet Franc 7% & 3% Malbec blend.
Ruby red in the glass, on the nose its like a wild meadow but a little restrained due to being a youngster. On the palate Blueberry, blackberry and crème de cassis. Has a spiciness which we are told is from the deep roots in the soil of the old vines which stress the vines to work harder and creates this spice. The finish of this wine just keeps on going and going. This wine is still in its infancy however a classic wine that will age for decades to come. Outstanding wine.
97 pts Lisa Perrotti-Brown , Robert Parker
97 pts James Suckling
95 pts Antonio Galloni. 
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La Joie. “The Joy”

Cabernet Sauvignon dominated like the wines of Pauillac –¬† Left Bank style in Bordeaux.
Cabernet Sauvignon 75%, Merlot 14%, Cabernet Franc 7% & 4% Petit Verdot.
This Vérité is obviously quite different to La Muse, as its CAB SAV blend shouts out blackcurrants, ripe cherry & some slightly tart damson plum in there too. Its more mineral also. This is a FINE wine also and will age stunningly over the next several decades.
99 pts Lisa Perrotti-Brown , Robert Parker
97 pts James Suckling
96 pts Antonio Galloni. 

La Desir. “The Desire”

Cabernet Franc dominated like the wines of St Emillion Bordeaux.
Cabernet Franc 64%, Merlot 27%, Cabernet Sauvignon 5% & 4% Malbec.
The first two¬†V√©rit√© wines were brilliant….. however…. this really turns up the volume to 11!
It is so elegant, the nose and palate has finesse, its soft yet with a core of minerality that runs all through from the nose, to palate onto the long finish. Waves of flavours abound each taste, Dark berries, liquorice, tobacco, cedar and oh so silky. This wine has robust tannins but the wine is structured so you could decant and drink today, but of course this wine will unfold to be a beauty for many decades to come.
100 pts Lisa Perrotti-Brown , Robert Parker
98 pts James Suckling
98 pts Antonio Galloni.
So are these Bordeaux copies? ABSOLUTELY NOT!.
THESE ARE SIGNATURE WINES FROM SONOMA COUNTY CALIFORNIA!
These are wines without compromise, they are NOT working to the 1855 classification rules in Bordeaux. With Pierre’s micro cru it allows him to make wines that are respectful of that particular vintage and not to a formulaic recipe. When each barrel is tasted he starts to understand his vision for the blend to make that years vintage the best it can be.
These wines are full of passion and spirit. True greats. 
Oh and by the way ….. if the French ever change the 1855 classification rules (cant see it in my lifetime) I think they may be trying some Sonoma wines for a new Vision of great  wines.

 

Well it didn’t stop there….

We are then treated to a ” La Muse” Vintage overview

I will give a quick run over these before I send you to sleep with tasting notes….

2012 Robert Parker 97pts Liquorice, tar , light oak and spice. 

2009 RP 96 pts Very Elegant & oh so long.

2007 RP 100 pts OH BOY! One of California’s greatest vintages.¬†

2004 RP 98 pts Cigars!

2002 RP 99pts Super fresh has years! Interesting in a decade.

All of them truly great wines.

Many thanks to Fiona at Luxx PR for the invite.

Luxxpr.co.uk

Twitter: LuxxPR

Huge thank you to Barbara, Julia, Pierre, Patrick and Dimitri for a spectacular wine experience.

veritewines.com

jacksonfamilywines.com/

Twitter: verite_wines

Twitter: Jackson Family Wines

 

PART 2 SOON….. Cardinale

 

 

 

 

 

 

Astley Vineyard- Worcestershire- Part 3 WineGBūüá¨ūüáß

Hi again…‚Ķ 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.

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January 14th 2018, pruning in progress by Mum – BEV!

History:

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. 

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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…‚Ķ. which is used for nothing as it never ripens enough! It is being replaced in the not to distant future.

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Clearing and managing the woodland has been a big task too!

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.

Plans.

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.

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Under Construction winery and Tasting room April/May 2018

Everything has changed at Astley…‚Ķ 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!

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Love their new LOGO with corkscrew incorporated.

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. 

 

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The new mural on the wall by WEAREBEARD is awesome!

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.

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YUM!

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

 

 

 

Madeleine Angevine 2016 or “MAD ANGIE” as is sometimes known in the UK.

Grapes: Madeleine Angevine

Alc: 11.5% 

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

Severn Vale 2016 

Grapes: Bacchus, Madeleine Angevine, Kerner & tiny drop of Oaked Sauvignon Blanc too.

Alc: 10.5% 

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

 


 

Sabrinna

Sabrinn√£ 2016

Grapes: Siegerrebe & Bacchus

Alc: 11.5% 

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 p√Ęt√© on granary toast with ripe tomatoes.

RRP £ 16.00 

 

 


Bacchus

 

 

Bacchus 2016

Grapes: Bacchus

Alc: 10.5%

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

 

 


 

OVK

Old Vine Kerner 2015

Grapes: Kerner from 45 yr old vines

Alc: 11.5%

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

 

 

 


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Vintage Spakling Kerner 2014

Grapes: Kerner

Alc: 10.5%

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. 

 

 

 

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What a great sign! As you enter field of  vines

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.

 

Useful Links.

Astley Vineyard – https://www.astleyvineyard.co.uk/

Twitter: @AstleyVineyard

Wine GB. https://www.winegb.co.uk/

Twitter: @Wine_GB

We Are Beard ( Label and logo designers) https://www.wearebeard.com/

Twitter: @wearebeard

 

Welsh Wine. White Castle Vineyard- Part 2 WineGBūüá¨ūüáß

Hello again….. SO SOON haha.

Well I mentioned in my Part 1, WINE GB, piece last Sunday about Robb Merchant who is the Chairman of the Welsh Vineyards Association and also owner of White Castle Vineyard whom I had met at the Wine GB event in London.

White Castle Vineyard is owned by Robb & Nicola Merchant, situated in the beautiful rolling countryside of Monmouthshire (WALES!) in the village of Llanvetherine close to the towns of Abergavenny and Monmouth. 

Robb had worked for the Post Office in South Wales for a long time in a senior management role which was a pretty stressful life and he decided to get away from the rat race.

Robb & Nicola purchased the 12 acre small holding in 1995 which they then converted the milking parlour barn into their home. It was then 2008 before the dream of owning a vineyard became a reality, 5 acres of a gently sloping, south facing field was purchased adjacent to the property. Soil samples were tested to see if it was ok for vines and they had the thumbs up, so off they went and purchased the vines.

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In May 2009 the first 4000 vines were planted. Pinot Noir Précoce, Regent, Rondo, Seyval Blanc & Phoenix varieties so now there certainly was no going back. In May 2010 they planted another 800 vines this time the variety was Siegerrebe.

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So in early May one beautiful sunny Sunday morning I suggested to Mrs D that we should take a ride out in the car….. towards Abergavenny…. maybe call in to a vineyard… I have to say my wife is a super star and enjoys wine too….. although just about tolerates by obsession.

On to Google…‚Ķ. I know they are open. I intend to surprise Robb unannounced. Which I have to say he took extremely well as he was busy and had a tasting/tour an hour after we arrived. Sorry Robb. Proper Gentleman.

After a quick hello and introductions to our wives we decided to check out the 5 acre vineyard. Now I know to some people this will sound so small but the passion that Robb & Nicola put in is incredible. Their aim is to make boutique wines (and making them they definitely are) and because production is less than 10,000 bottles per year unfortunately most of their wines will go to the ever expanding top restaurants (including Michelin Star) in the area. Although there is nothing stopping you ordering the wines directly from their website. However there are plans for expansion of the vineyard…. watch this space.

So through the Grade 2 listed barn, dating back to 1581! Now been totally restored, as a tasting room, for tours, hire and events.

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Over the beautiful river bridge, wow the water is so clear! I know it looks empty but it really is not. The water of these rivers and streams in Wales is incredible.

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To the Vineyard where the vines are waking up from their winter sleep. 6th May 2018.

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So after a walk around, seeing how the different vines (grape) varieties were at different stages of growth we went back to the tasting rooms to try WELSH WINE!

Now because of their size its not practical to have their own winery, so they use Three Choirs Vineyard for their winemaking which is only 25 miles away. https://www.three-choirs-vineyards.co.uk/gloucestershire .

That said Robb & Nicola decide the whole process of how they want the wines made.

Starting off with “GWIN GWYN” 2016 which is Welsh means WHITE WINE.

Grape Varieties: 60% Phoenix % 40% Siegerebe 11% ABV RRP £15.00

On the nose its predominantly Elderflower, then on the palate its a lime, gooseberries, and super fresh. Its a dry wine with a lovely zesty finish. Also right on the end of the finish I was getting sherbet (but not in a fizzy way!)

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Next was the White Castle Brut sparkling wine:

Made from 100% Phoenix Grapes 12% ABV RRP £30.00. 1000 Btl Production

When poured this wine has super fine perlage, zesty fresh on the nose. On the palate it feels soft & delicate with elderflower & gooseberry notes classic of the Phoenix grape. 

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Next up was White Castle Regent.

100% Regent Grapes. 11.5% ABV. RRP.£18.50

This pours red with a violet edge and looks and smells super fresh. On the palate its fruit, fruit and then more fruit! Blackberry, Morello Cherry with a lovely smokiness too. Its so fresh and a would be a delight on a summers day with a BBQ or any time with a plate of charcuterie. This wine I think would also be lovely, slightly chilled down to 12-14c 

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RONDO was next. 

100% RONDO grapes, 11.5% ABV RRP £17.50.

Again this red wine is bright cherry red in the glass, fresh berries on the nose with a touch of spice too. In the mouth its black fruit all the way, medium bodied not to heavy at all but dry on the palate finishing with a lightness of oak too. Spends 4 months in OAK.

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Next to PINOT NOIR…. But not any old PN

100% Pinot Noir Pr√©coce 2016, Known in Germany as¬†Fr√ľhburgunder. This is a mutant of original PN which ripens earlier for cooler climate vineyards. 12% ABV RRP. ¬£20.00

This for me really is their flagship wine. This wine spends 9 months on oak

25% No OAK, 25% New OAK, 25% + 25% in differently aged oak barrels. Then blended.

On the nose it has a much bigger and bolder feel than the Regent or Rondo. In the mouth its fresh but at the same time a great richness of cherries with blackberry touch too, vanilla, lightly spicy and subtle toasty notes too. So soft on the palate and so well balanced with tannins and acidity. (The PN Précoce is known for its lower tannin and acidity and it really shows) I liked this wine a lot. In fact Robb put me a case by please! 

I actually had this wine last night, you can check my twitter feed. I was sat in the garden when my neighbour, knowing I like the odd glass of wine (really???) asked what I was drinking, Welsh wine I replied….

She laughed, yeah yeah, no really what are you drinking I told her I was deadly serious and she should try it. She tried the wine (well her face was an absolute picture.) and then put down the glass and picked up the bottle…. I cannot believe that this wine is from Wales, it really is WELSH WINE! its delicious so smooth full of fruit and well just…. delicious!. My reply was that its only 40 minutes away near Abergavenny and you can go and visit and get your own haha.¬†

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Last but not least….. DESSERT WINE yes really a dessert wine made in WALES.

1581 its called, due to the date of the old Croft Barn, it is made from 100% Regent grapes. This is delicious and should be drunk with a beautiful cheese, figs and dates¬† platter. Only 500 Bottles made.¬† I will be reviewing this later after a tasting with friends. I’m going to see who guesses where its from and what its made from…‚Ķ NO ONE WILL HAVE A CLUE!

So overall are these wines any good?

Well I guess the proof is in the purchases. I bought all of the wines reviewed!.

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You should go and visit! You will certainly have a very warm welcome from Robb & Nicola.

Below are some great pictures Robb has sent me from the 2016 & 2017 harvests.

If you are in area please go and visit, there are lots of top restaurants near by also.

http://www.whitecastlevineyard.com/index.html

Follow Robb and Nicola on Twitter: @Welshwines for a year of their vineyard. But more importantly try their WINE!!!!

Also check out 


http://www.winetrailwales.co.uk/

For other vineyards in Wales, although the list is increasing all the time as I see https://www.montgomeryvineyard.com/ are not on the list yet.


Also check out https://www.winegb.co.uk/ for England and Wales Vineyards.


Also another great website is https://www.winecellardoor.co.uk/

Which is a great independent resource for the consumer find out more about locations and which Vineyards that are open to the public. They have great maps online.