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.

Cuvee-2017-LR-cropped
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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I need one of these!

Hi Again

I have been sent some items recently that I will be reviewing over the next few weeks which include interesting wine bottles (new design & eco friendly), a fabulous wine preservation system and also a few goodies I already have at home.

However, this week I received a press release from Michele Chiarlo, the famous wine producer from Piedmont. Interestingly it wasn’t about wine or the expansion of buying new vineyards, it was about a new product SommOled.

This new product will be launched in July.

If you are a wine geek like me, when you open a bottle and pour out your sample to try the wine the first thing you do is look at it before tasting. Well with my overhead spotlights in the kitchen it has no comparison to a natural light source at all.

MC Logo

This new SommOled light provides you with the perfect natural light source to check out your wine. Place your wine glass on the light and you see the colour in all its glory and not just in the normal light of your home which usually means you have no real idea about the wines true colour. In fact unless you are in daylight…. pretty much outside its so hard to assess the exact colour of the wine.

Below is an example of wine photographed in my kitchen (left image) and also outside (right image) , against a white plain paper background. Difficult to show exactly but in real life they are worlds apart in colour.

The PRESS Release:

SommOled: The True Color of Wine

Michele Chiarlo Winery launches the first portable OLED lamp for the visual analysis of wine

4_white.jpg

The true color of wine has a new name. It‚Äôs called SommOled and it promises to illuminate an often overlooked aspect of wine tasting: what we see. The visual analysis of wine is the fundamental first step in evaluating the quality of a wine. It is an aspect of wine inspection that is regularly disregarded due to poor lighting of many settings of consumption; bars are too dark, wine shops have lights that are too warm, and trade shows have bright, artificial lighting. SommOled, thanks to OLED (organic light-emitting diode) technology, is the first portable lamp to guarantee lighting that is the most similar to natural lighting. This is because OLED lighting creates ‚Äúarea‚ÄĚ lighting, as opposed to point or line lighting created by LED or halogen bulbs. The light emitted is uniform with no glare, shadows or UV rays, guaranteeing that the truest color of the wine is visible.

THE ERGONOMICS OF LIGHT
The innovation of SommOled is not just technological but also ergonomic. A pocket-sized lamp, the OLED panel has been installed in a light-weight oak base, and it is easy transportable thanks to a small steel chain and snap hook. The lamp’s small size ensures its versatility. A tasting glass can be placed atop the plexiglass panel that protects the OLED panel, or the lamp can be help up to the cup’s rim. The light can be directed in a variety of ways in order to best see the true color of the wine. The long-life battery (8 hours) is integrated into the oak base and easily recharged with a magnetic-attach cord charger. SommOled combines practicality and professionalism with the same dimensions as a pocket tastevin.

ICONIC LIGHTING
The quality of the materials and ergonomic design of the SommOled make it a multifunctional and desirable product. Beyond its professional use, the SommOled can be used as a unique bar coaster, a luminous centerpiece, or thanks to a detachable stem, an elegant table lamp. The OLED panel in the SommOled does not produce any noticeable heat and the light is adjustable. It is the most advanced portable lighting system on the market to show the true color of wine.

6_box

Michele Chiarlo is the exclusive distributor of SommOled. Beginning July 2019, SommOled is available to purchase in two options: Deluxe, which includes a single lamp with chain, or Work, with contains four lamps and one chain.

Will update you guys when I have more information on where this is available to purchase from and also how much it costs.

I cannot wait to get one of these to try out.

Ciao

Pietro

DISCLAIMER: I am writing this because I was sent a press release, I don’t have one of these, although I want one when they are released. I am not being paid to promote this product or Michele Chiarlo. I am writing this because its a bloody marvelous idea!

https://www.michelechiarlo.it/en/about/

Twitter: @michelechiarlo

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

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/michelechiarlo.official/

Utube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJx9PIXMk_GaNdGEgN9YJsA

Campochiarenti Part 2 – The tasting

Hi again folks

Just in case you missed the first part of my Campochiarenti blog here is the link.

https://pietrovini.com/2019/06/09/tuscan-heaven-at-campochiarenti/

Well after a fabulous albeit very windy tour of the vineyard and the winery it was time to taste the wines.

IMG_3090
Daniele is the perfect host!

 

Well the first sample was not wine… It was olive oil.

IMG_3086
Amazing Oil, SO fresh and so natural, NOTHING ADDED.

So a little introduction into Campochiarenti’s olive oil production, their philosophy is very simple. To make natural olive oil, nothing sprayed on the tress nothing added in production, just natural.

The process is as follows.

  1. Pick the olives
  2. Press the olives
  3. Centrifuge the liquid to remove the water, but not filtered.
  4. Bottle the OIL.

The Centrifuge is used because amazingly there is a massive water content in the olives. For every 100kg of olives you end up with between 11-14kg of oil only.

The ideal growing season is for some rain at the beginning of the summer and then a dry hot summer, with little rain during the season as the olives are not harvested until October. If they get too much rain in September all that will do is make the olives bigger and fatter and all its actually doing is adding water content therefore adds nothing to the production of the oil. These days the hot summer is essential as there is a fly that is becoming a menace within all olive growing regions. Its an Olive fruit fly that lays its eggs on the olives and the larvae eat there way out! Hence a real nightmare for the growers that want to grow naturally and not spray to kill these flies.

They bottle the olive oil in their standard wine bottle as they want to show everyone that this is an artisan product of small production.

The oil was so smooth full of flavour and was a delight with traditional Tuscan bread (NO SALT). Just a quick note, sometimes you get olive oil that has a bitterness to it and this is due to harvesting unripe fruit, usually for mass production and when you taste these small production oils they are a world away from this mass production taste.

 


 

Before I move on to the wine tasting I have to tell you about visiting San Gimignano that morning. I was amazed as outside all the wine shops there¬† were little 3 bottle carry cartons and these were all Vernaccia and also Chianti….. THEY WERE ALL ‚ā¨12 per pack! Seems the coach loads of¬† tourists will never understand the great wines of the area if this is their only introduction to these great¬† wines. There are amazing producers locally¬† without spending much more per bottle. About ‚ā¨6.50!

Facts:

  • 90% of Vernaccia made by only 3 huge producers
  • 1.2m bottles made by these guys
  • 30% of all Vernaccia is sold in San Gimignano, hence the tourist boxes.
  • Wine released only 6 months after harvesting for most of these wines. Hence quality is poor to say the least. Most of these wines are bottles in JANUARY and have never had time to evolve and develop.

Well let me tell you that Campochiarenti is far from the normal production of Vernaccia and Chianti in the area. Daniele is making the wines in the same way that they have for centuries.

 

The first bottle opened is Kalòs kai Agathós, which is 100% Vernaccia.

The name is from ancient Greek meaning “The Beauty and the Goodness” or in Italian

“Il Bello e Buono”

Basically the old philosophy says that what is made in a good natural way for the city and citizens comes back to be good for everyone. Was also used for Sculptures and politics too. Its all about respecting the beauty of nature.

The wine, this is the 2017 vintage, is the first bottle that Daniele had opened. Hugely honoured Daniele. (FEB 2019)

In the glass its a pale straw yellow in colour with golden edges, Its fresh on the nose, with a zesty touch. Serving temperature is important for Vernaccia to really let it shine. Its very much a food wine and should be served at around 10-11¬ļc. At this temperature it pairs beautifully with fish dishes, as the wine gets warmer 12-17¬ļc it then is fabulous with pasta, chicken and pork.

The key elements of Vernaccia are for sapidity (a saline note) almonds, ripe fruit flavours and white flowers. These all change depending on vintage but I think its best to get an overview for the variety when done well.

Daniele adds no sulphites to his wines.

So unlike most Vernaccia, this wine has only just been released on the 1st of March this year, has been in the concrete tanks since harvest and pressing for fermentation, then filtered with natural bentonite sand. Then when ready it gets bottled and laid to rest until release. Normally Vernaccia from other producers would class this as a riserva but for Daniele its the standard.

IMG_3094IMG_3095

These next two Vernaccia di San Gimignano really show how the variety evolves over time. the 2014 & 2009.

I have visited Daniele in 2018 and had previously tried the 2014, so I thought I knew what I was expecting….

NOPE! Completely changed in the last year, the colour is still straw bright golden but when you put the glass to your nose this is where the evolution of Vernaccia is really coming into its own.

On the nose it was pure caramel, toffee, smelled so sweet it was like smelling a desert wine. The green notes and herbaceous notes have subsided.

On the palate its nothing like it smells…. No sweetness, its fresh ripe green apples,¬† and almonds, and its full and rich on the palate. The finish has a sapidity , mineral and long satisfying finish.

2009, Well this poured into the glass and looked the same as the 2014, even though now this white wine is ten years old.

What was instantly obvious on the palate is how again different this wine is from the 14′¬† More fruit, yet much fresher even though 5 more years of aging. Similar in fruit profile but now with the slightest hint of balsamic and also fresh mint too.

NO OAK is used in making these white Vernaccia wines, the rounded full mouth feel and development is from the period of aging only.

It will be fabulous to see how this wine evolves over the next few years and how long it will actually age for. Based on how fresh this 2009 is currently and the levels of fruit and acidity still in the backbone of the wine I can see this may go another 10!

On to the REDS

IMG_2387

Amor Divino 2016 IGT Toscana

Sangiovese 85%, them 15% blend of Tuscan varieties of Canaiolo, Colorino, Ciliegiolo, Mammolo e Foglia Tonda. All these grapes are planted across Tuscany and mostly used as blending grapes for Chianti. However there are some producers that make wine exclusively from these varieties too, although not so many. Even the Foglia Tonda has a couple of producers making single variety wine…. even though most people will never see or even hear about some of these wines.

Fermented in the cement tanks and then a long maceration on the skins.

Cherry on the nose and palate, feels big on the mouth feel, no oak at all but because of the long maceration on the skins this gives it a big feel. A great value wine at ‚ā¨6.50 from the vineyard to order direct.

Now onto Chianti, Campochiarenti is in the Colli Senesi area.

People get confused about Chianti.

A quick idiots guide for you below (sorry for all the people that know!!)

8 Areas of Chianti in Tuscany

  • Chianti Rufina
  • Chianti Montalbano
  • Chianti Montespertoli
  • Chianti Colle Aretini
  • Chianti Classico
  • Chianti Colline Pisane
  • Chianti Fiorententini
  • Chianti Colle Senesi

Out of each of these there is Chianti (then followed by the area above)

Chianti Superiore.

Chianti Riserva.

and in Chianti Classico only, Gran Selezione. It can be confusing! One key thing that you need to know is that Superiore is made in six provinces across Tuscany and the only difference between this and standard chianti is that its from estate grown fruit…. so actually might not be superior at all.

Chianti Colle Senesi 2016 San Nicola 2016

Sangiovese 85% and Canaiolo, Colorino, Ciliegiolo, Mammolo e Foglia Tonda 15% so a similar makeup to the IGT Amor Divino however this has spent time in large OAK barrels, this changes the profile completely. Its forest fruit on the palate, the addition of the large format oak gives a silky roundness to the wine without a huge vanilla and toasty input.

IMG_3099
Vivi 2007

This is made up of 50% Sangiovese, 30% Merlot & 20% Cabernet Sauvignon.

Even though there is 30% Merlot, it doesn’t feel like it at all. The clone planted is early ripening so gains so much from the summer sun and does not feel dominant in the blend at all, but obviously gives the wine depth and of course flavour. Its a big wine, 30 months in 550 litre oak barrels then bottle stored until release. Sublime black & red fruits enveloping your mouth in a rich and silky delight, the finish is so long.

The balance of this wine 12 year old is wonderful, tannins, acidity and fruit all balanced though each still powerful so this wine has many years of aging. It could really be drinking well in another 12 years.

I talked at length about aging the wine with Daniele.

“I release the wines when they are enjoyable to drink, however if you wish to store you are more than able to for many years. If you want to see the development of a wine its best to buy a few bottles and see how the wine evolves over time”. GREAT ADVICE TO FINISH ON.

 

Mille grazie Daniele, sempre molto gentile.

https://www.campochiarenti.it/

twitter: https://twitter.com/campochiarenti

I did add the disclaimer in my last blog but I am not paid by Campochiarenti I am writing because Daniele has become a good friend and more importantly his wines are brilliant. I wouldn’t be writing about them if they were not.

Distribution is so hard for the smaller producer and although he distributes to many places, there are also many places that there are no distributors. But the great news is you can buy directly from Italy and the freight cost wont kill you as the wines start at ‚ā¨6.5!! only.

Ciao

Pietro

 

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.

IMG_4889
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. 

IMG_8205

IMG_8206

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.

IMG_4891
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.

IMG_6498
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!

AstleyLogo_Horizontal_DarkGreen_RGB
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. 

 

IMG_8207 (1)
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.

40989787855_557b66ba59_o

 

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

 

 

 


.sparkling

 

 

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. 

 

 

 

img_8214.jpg
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.

logo

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.

IMG_6509

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.

IMG_6514

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.

IMG_6513

IMG_6512 (1)

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

IMG_6510

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!)

IMG_6516

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. 

IMG_6519

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 

IMG_6520

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.

IMG_6523

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.¬†

IMG_6399

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!.

IMG_6526
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.


 

WINE GBūüá¨ūüáß Part 1

Hello

Great Britain is making seriously good… no seriously bloody great wines!

GB2

Wine GB is the premier wine event for the UK wine industry held at the Royal Horticultural Society Lindley Hall in London. All of the Vineyards at the event are listed at the end of this blog with their websites and twitter handles too. Please check some of them out.

GB1

For sure Great Britain is known for its stunning (worldwide) award winning sparkling wines, however what really was the shocker for me is how fantastic English still wines have become also!.

Just a few FACTS about GB wine industry to get you started:

(ALL FACTS FROM WINE GB WEBSITE)

Commercial Vineyards: 502

Wineries: 147

Hectares Under Vine: 2554 (6308 Acres) Hectarage planted has tripled since 2000

Vines Planted in 2017: 1 Million

Predicted Planting for 2018: 1.5 to 1.7 Million Vines

Annual Wine Production: 5.9million bottles (2017) Predicted 2040 – 40 Million

Vineyards open to the public: 150+

Bottles of wine sold in 2017: +31% from 2015

Types of wine sold: Still wine 32% (1.9m btl) Sparkling 68% 4m Bottles

Export: 27 Countries (4% of wine produced)

Top Grape Varieties: No1. Pinot Noir 31.5%, No.2 Chardonnay 30.2% No.3 Pinot Meunier 9.5%. These 3 sparkling varieties account for 71.2% of all grapes grown in GB currently.

So I spent the morning tasting Sparkling wines. From table to table, one vineyard to the next the quality was outstanding. Below were my sparkling wines of the morning, however ALL the sparkling I tasted on the day were of such a high quality.

Wiston Estate: Cuvée 2009, Blanc de Blancs RRP £ 32.95 &

Wiston 2010 & Blanc de Noirs 2010 RRP £47.00

Hambledon: Vineyards: Première Cuvée NV RRP £42.50

Gusbourne: Blanc de Blancs 2013 RRP £35.00

Nyetimber: Blanc de Blancs 2010 £43.99

Cottonworth: Classic Cuvée NV RRP £28.00

IMG_6385
IMG_8078

Now I have written a few pieces lately on Sparkling wines (check the archive) so I am not reviewing any of these sparkling wines today. What I have mentioned earlier are the wonderful still wines GB is now producing.

I bumped into my great wine buddy Mike again! (www.pleasebringmemywine.com @pbmmw – twitter) who told me that I needed to taste a wine. I was stood next to the Welsh Vineyards Association stand. I did not have very high hopes. How wrong was I!

OK once again I was proved to be a complete muppet! I ended up being there 20 mins and having a great and interesting  tasting!  

So I was introduced to Woody from Montgomery Vineyard who poured me a glass of white wine

It was 100% Solaris grape variety 2016.

Solaris meaning “Sun” is an early ripening variety originally from Germany and perfect for the cooler climate of Wales. Its fruity & Zesty with a fresh slightly off dry feel, then with tropical, slightly nutty finish. Great Summer sipping! Approx RRP. ¬£20

Then came the second wine. RONDO 2016: This is a medium bodied red with a big redberry fruit burst. Rondo is again a cool climate grape variety. Approx RRP £20

IMG_6400

I’m looking forward to visiting soon to further follow up on these wines. (please note this vineyard is not open to the public ‚Ķ.. YET)

IMG_6399

Then I met Robb Merchant, who is currently Chairman of the Welsh Vineyard Association & also owner of White Castle Vineyards in Abergavenny. Only about 40 mins from my house actually…. but that’s another story in a couple of blogs time (next week I promise!) 5 Acres 4800 vines, truly a great story. Pinot Noir Pr√©coce 2016 Approx RRP ¬£20

This intrigued me to start to look for all the other still wines at the tasting. 

Denbies Wine Estate was my next stop. This estate is based in Surrey in the south East of England and the vines were planted in 1986. Denbies is currently the largest producer in the UK with circa. 500,000 bottles per year. Now they make a lot of sparkling wines but I was interested mainly in their range of still wines.

What drew me too the table was I saw in the catalogue that they had Pinot Gris & I love Pinot Gris.

IMG_6387

The Pinot Gris poured was very pale in colour, so a good start. On the nose there was brioche and ripe fruits. It has lots of body and has a full on mouth feel, but with zesty acidity on the finish its beautifully balanced. Approx Retail £17 Bargain!  

PINOT NOIR 2016. Well I’m quite fussy about the old PN as it goes but I was pleasantly surprised by this full on single varietal PN. Fairly light cherry red¬† in the glass. On the nose and the palate it was a plummy/raspberry delight. I could have easily pulled up a chair, sipped all afternoon and would have done if there was also a nice plate of charcuterie.¬†

Just before I left Denbies table I was asked would I like to try the dessert wines. Well to be honest that was a new one for me. I actually didn’t know GB wine industry made any. I was put right then and have been since too. I’ve always been a fan of dessert wines and have at least 20 different types at home. So of course I jumped at the chance.

Denbies produce 2 dessert wines. Noble Harvest 2016 & The Brokes Botrytis Ortega 2016

IMG_6388

Both Wines are made from 100% Ortega Grapes. While the Noble harvest was delicious, golden in the glass & heavenly on the palate 12%ABV (RRP £24.95 Half bottle) The Brokes Botrytis 2016 was just stunning wine and winemaking. 10%ABV deep rich golden nectar in colour, absolutely heavenly on the nose, and the palate is divine, caramelised orange, a touch of vanilla from the oak barrels and OH OH OH so rich. Yet on the finish it is not cloyingly sweet and is a pretty clean finish. Only a 500 bottle production unfortunately but if you can get it its worth the cost. RRP £60.00

Before I bore you all to death I have one more wine to share with you.

Simpsons Wine Estate “The Roman Road Chardonnay 2017”

Ashleigh from Simpsons was telling me that it wasn’t quite ready as it had only been bottled for less than 2 weeks, however they were really wanting to show the trade their new Chardonnay. This was their 2nd vintage of the wine only. On my initial tasting I was very impressed considering the length of time in the bottle and had barely had time to settle. I then tasted the wine another month later at the London Wine Fair and it was developing amazingly.

The Roman Road Chardonnay 2017 Bottle shot

This is an elegant Chardonnay, it has only spent for 3 months in French Oak.

Its fresh on the nose, with a lime zestiness and white peaches (just like the wonderful ripe white peaches I have in Italy for a true Bellini)

On the palate its mineral, citrus and super clean with the slightest touch of vanilla & spice on the finish.  This wine is very good. RRP £22.99

The Roman Road Vineyard, is situated alongside the route the Romans first marched when invading England in AD 43, bringing with them the first vines. FACT!

The reason I haven’t written about this tasting until now is very simple. I wanted to go and explore what I had locally, central UK, within an hour of my house for more still wine gems. These blogs will be ongoing over the next two weeks and are on small boutique vineyards.

White Castle Vineyard, Astley Vineyard, & Poulton Hill Vineyard.

Please see below links to all the vineyards at WINE GB and also the relevant associations of county’s too. Also a great resource is the WINEGB website. Please take the time and explore these wonderful vineyards.¬†

ORGANISERS

Wines of Great Britain

http://www.winegb.co.uk/visitors/ Twitter: @wine_GB

VINEYARDS EXHIBITING

A’BECKETT’S VINEYARD http://www.abecketts.co.uk   Twitter: @abecketts 

ALBOURNE ESTATE http://www.albourneestate.co.uk  Twitter: @Albourneestate 

ALDWICK COURT FARM http://www.aldwickcourtfarm.co.uk  Twitter: @aldwickcourtfrm 

AMBRIEL http://www.ambrielsparkling.com  Twitter: @Ambriel_uk 

BIDDENDEN VINEYARDS http://www.biddendenvineyards.com  Twitter: @biddendenvine 

BLACK CHALK http://www.blackchalkwine.co.uk  Twitter: @blackchalkwine 

BLUEBELL VINEYARD ESTATES http://www.bluebellvineyard.co.uk  Twitter: @BluebellWines

BOLNEY WINE ESTATE http://www.bolneywineestate.com  Twitter: @bolneyestate

BRIGHTWELL VINEYARD http://www.brightwellvineyard.co.uk

CAMEL VALLEY VINEYARD http://www.camelvalley.com  Twitter: @camelvalleybob & @camelwinemaker

CHAPEL DOWN http://www.chapeldown.com  Twitter: @ChapelDownWines

COATES & SEELY http://www.coatesandseely.com  Twitter: @coatesandseely 

COTTONWORTH WINES http://www.cottonworth.co.uk  Twitter: @cottonworthwines 

DANEBURY VINEYARD http://www.danebury.com Twitter: @daneburyfizz 

DENBIES WINE ESTATE LTD http://www.denbies.co.uk Twitter: @denbiesvineyard 

DIGBY FINE ENGLISH http://www.digby-fine-english.com  Twitter: @DigbyEnglish 

DUNLEAVY VINEYARD http://www.dunleavyvineyards.co.uk  Twitter: @DYvineyards

EXTON PARK VINEYARD http://www.extonparkvineyard.com  Twitter: @ExtonVineyard 

FURLEIGH ESTATE http://www.furleighestate.co.uk Twitter: @furleighwines 

GIFFORDS HALL VINEYARD LTD http://www.giffordshall.co.uk  Twitter: @giffordshall 

GREYFRIARS VINEYARD http://www.greyfriarsvineyard.co.uk  Twitter: @Greyfriarsvine 

GUSBOURNE ESTATE LTD http://www.gusbourne.com  Twitter: @gusbourne 

GWINLLAN CONWY VINEYARD http://www.conwyvineyard.co.uk  Twitter: @conwyvineyard 

HAMBLEDON WINERIES LIMITED http://www.hambledonvineyard.co.uk  Twitter: @Hambledonwine 

HARROW & HOPE http://www.harrowandhope.com  Twitter: @HarrowandHope 

HATTINGLEY VALLEY WINES http://www.hattingleyvalley.co.uk  Twitter: @hattingleywines 

HIDDEN SPRING VINEYARD http://www.hiddenspring.co.uk  Twitter: @hiddenspringuk 

HUSH HEATH ESTATE http://www.hushheath.com  Twitter: @HushHeath 

JENKYN PLACE VINEYARD http://www.jenkynplace.com  Twitter: @jenkynplacewine 

LANGHAM WINE ESTATE http://www.langhamwine.co.uk  Twitter: @LanghamWinery 

LLAETHLIW VINEYARD http://www.llaethliw.co.uk  Twitter: @Llaethliw 

LYME BAY WINERY http://www.lymebaywinery.co.uk Twitter: @LymeBayWineLtd 

MONTGOMERY VINEYARD http://www.montgomeryvineyard.co.uk Twitter: @montgomery_vy 

NYETIMBER http://www.nyetimber.com Twitter: @Nyetimber 

OXNEY ORGANIC ESTATE http://www.oxneyestate.com  Twitter: @oxneyestate 

RAIMES ENGLISH SPARKLING http://www.raimes.co.uk , Twitter: @RaimesSparkling 

RIDGEVIEW WINE ESTATE http://www.ridgeview.co.uk Twitter: @RidgeviewWineUK 

SIXTEEN RIDGES http://www.sixteenridges.co.uk Twitter: @16ridges 

SIMPSON WINES. https://simpsonswine.com/ Twitter: @simpsonwine

SMITH AND EVANS http://www.smithandevans.co.uk  Twitter: @smithandevans 

THREE CHOIRS VINEYARDS http://www.three-choirs-vineyards.co.uk  Twitter: @threechoirsnewent 

WESTWELL WINE ESTATES http://www.westwellwines.com  Twitter: @westwellwines

WHITE CASTLE VINEYARD http://www.whitecastlevineyard.com  Twitter: @Welshwines 

WINDSOR GREAT PARK VINEYARD http://www.windsorgreatparkvineyard.com 

WISTON ESTATE WINERY http://www.wistonestate.com  Twitter: @WistonSparkling 

WYFOLD VINEYARD http://www.wyfoldvineyard.com 

REGIONAL VINEYARD ASSOCIATIONS

SOUTH WEST VINEYARDS ASSOCIATION http://www.swva.info  Twitter: @SWVineyardsUK 

WELSH VINEYARDS ASSOCIATION http://www.winetrailwales.co.uk Twitter: @winetrailwales 

SOUTH EAST VINEYARDS ASSOCIATION http://www.seva.uk.com Twitter: @englishwinenews 

EAST ANGLIA VINEYARDS ASSOCIATION http://www.eastanglianwines.co.uk Twitter: @InfoEAVA 

THAMES & CHILTERNS VINEYARDS ASSOCIATION thameschilternsvineyards.org.uk 

MERCIAN VINEYARDS ASSOCIATION http://www.mercianvineyards.org.uk Twitter: @MercianVineyard 

WESSEX VINEYARDS ASSOCIATION http://wessex.wine 

I hope ALL of the above info is correct… If Not let me know and I will edit immediately.

 

Back in a few days……

 

Peter