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Pinot Noir Perfection

15 April 2019 by Richard

The Sideways effect:

“If anyone orders Merlot, I’m leaving.  I am not drinking any f*****g Merlot“,  Miles pronounces in the film Sideways.  If like me, you recall watching it on a DVD player back in 2005, you may remember its main characters eulogise the Pinot Noir grape.  Overnight demand went through the canopy, especially in the United States, and became known as the ‘Sideways effect’.  15 years later, the phenomenon is alive and kicking as plantings of the grape multiply across the world.  However, the capacity for great wines to be produced is limited, as the grape only produces really interesting wines when conditions are cool and the growing season is long.  It is seen by winemakers the world over as the ultimate test, so, luckily for wine drinkers, attempts to create seriously good, multi-layered wines continue.  The result is a plethora of extraordinary wines from all corners of the winegrowing world.  To paraphrase Maya from Sideways ‘they all taste so f*****g good’.

Miles and Jack Sideways

A brief history before Hollywood let the cat out of the bag:

Pinot Noir is a 2,000 year old variety that has given birth to 21 varieties through spontaneous crosses, including Chardonnay and Gamay.  It is a great grandparent to Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Cabernet Sauvignon and a likely grandparent to Syrah.

During this time it has had plenty of chances to mutate: Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir Prècoce all have the same genetic fingerprint.  Pinot Gris and Pinot Blanc are simply colour mutations.

Where it is thriving nowadays:

France has the most Pinot Noir planted with 29,576 ha, but it still only the 7th most planted variety in the country.  Its presumed birthplace is Burgundy but just 6,579 ha are planted here.  Whilst my focus is on still wines here, most of recent growth has been in Champagne; 12,900 ha represent 39% of all the area.

The United States takes a silver medal with 15,091ha in California.  The Sideways movie put one Pinot Noir in particular on the vinous map and that was Hitching Post. The ‘Hometown ‘ Pinot Noir, from Santa Barbara, has juicy flavours of ripe cherry, an earthiness, seductive spice and falls just the right side of brightness for me.   The famous restaurant of the same name was the scene for a part of the movie and a major tourist attraction now.

Pinot Bunch

My own fair hands grasping a bunch of Pinot Noir grapes!

A surprise for many is that Germany takes third spot.  It now has 11,800 ha thanks to climate change, young talented winemakers, world class wines, and increasing demand.  One producer I have been following for almost 20 years is Ziereisen. The Tschuppen Pinot Noir is blackberry-spiked, has a mineral note as well as a deep, savoury edge and is a delight.

New Zealand’s success is more apparent in the UK market but Argentina is just emerging as a contender.  Take the Verum Pinot Noir which is from Rio Negro in Patagonia, as far south as grapes successfully ripen.  Raspberries and a touch of earth combine to deliver quite a bit of complexity for its price.

To learn a little more about where else Pinot Noir is successful, how its wines are made and taste 7 examples from around the globe, book a Pinot Noir Perfection Masterclasss, on Thursday 16 May in Chiswick, now. (Kew’s tasting has already sold out!).

Benromach Whisky – Classic Speyside Character

22 March 2019 by Alex

Benromach CasksRegular visitors to The Good Wine Shop may well have already come across the whiskies of the Benromach distillery, they have been a staple of our lovingly curated range of lesser-known but fantastic quality malts for quite some time now.

A venerable site founded in 1898, Speyside distillery Benromach was closed for a time before being resurrected in 1993 by the Urquhart family of Elgin. At this time it was completely refitted, but in a fashion that rejects high technology and harks back to a simpler time.

Everything at Benromach is an art, not a science – there are no computers or even pressure gauges to monitor the process – the distillers make all the decisions using their experience and their senses to taste the product. Although we now think of the Speyside style as being unpeated, it was very common in the region back in the 19th Century to use some peat to stoke the fires that malted the barley. Hence the Benromach style has a light touch of peat smoke to create a wonderfully well-rounded single malt.

Benromach 10The classic Benromach 10 year old is the quintessential malt from this distillery, matured in 80% Bourbon barrels and 20% Sherry hogsheads, with the final year in first-fill Oloroso casks, but for a twist try the Benromach Contrasts finished for 25 months in barrels from Bordeaux estate Chateau Cissac. Also, look out for the Organic, 15 year old, and brand new Peat Smoke Sherry Cask malts arriving soon.

We’re excited to be hosting a fantastic tasting with Benromach at the Kew shop on the 3rd of April from 7pm where guests will taste their way through the Benromach 10 year old, Sassicaia Cask finish, Organic, 15 year old, and brand new Peat Smoke Sherry Cask malts. A selection of nibbles to match the whiskies will be served on the night. Click here to get your tickets.

Burns Night Tipples

17 January 2019 by Richard

Robert BurnsJust a few weeks ago I was seeing in the New Year with friends holding hands, cross-armed and trying to join in with the singing of Auld Lang Syne! Thankfully, the fireworks in the background disguised the mumbo-jumbo emanating from my mouth. I think I got away with it – for another year at least.

Dubbed the song “everyone knows, but nobody knows the words to”, Auld Lang Syne was of course written by Robert Burns, the Scottish poet’s whose works and life are celebrated the world over with Burns Night suppers on the 25th of January. In planning my first ever supper this year, I was disturbed to hear, that after the haggis, neaps, tatties and toasts, Auld Lang Syne is sung. No, I can’t really fake it again, can I?

I quickly formulate a “cunning plan” in my mind: Firstly, I will sing it using the more comprehensible words from the English translation rather than the original version. Secondly, I will have a wee nip of a special Scotch or two to wet my whistle.

Peat MonsterSo which dram of whisky? Is it a myth that a smoky, peaty whisky works best? Not according to the whisky critics out there, but it does need to go with the haggis itself, the meaty gravy, earthy buttery turnips and sweet, flowery swede.

Compass Box’s Peat Monster combines potent peat with subtle spice and fruit.  The sweet maltiness and hints of fruit offset the gaminess of the haggis and 10 to 16 year old smoky and peaty single malts (from the island of Islay, the Isle of Mull and Speyside) add another dimension to the overall supper.  Afterwards, relax in your favourite pairs of slippers, head for an armchair in front of roaring, mesmerising log fire.

Glendronach 21Alternatively, if peat does not get on with you, a big sherried whisky, such as those from Glendronach, will work wonders. Maturation in Oloroso and Pedro Ximenez sherry casks give fruit-laden flavours, sweet spice and a nuttiness that provides a great contrast to the meaty and peppery character of the dish.

Splash-out on the Glendronach ‘Parliament’, a 21 year old that has the features above in profusion with further notes of plum pudding and spiced oatmeal biscuits. If, like me, the thought of stewed summer fruits, all-spice and toasted walnut bread send you into an olfactory frenzy, try the 18 year old Glendronach ‘Alardice’. If you would rather these flavours were dialled down a notch, having spent just 12 years in these sherry butts, embrace the Glendronach ‘Original’.

However, if you like the taste of haggis and prefer it enhanced by whisky rather than overpowered by it then go for the easy-to-drink, elegant and very lightly peated James Eadie, with its fascinating human back-story. James Eadie established his signature blend of whisky in 1854, and although renowned at the time, the brand didn’t survive far into the 20th century. James Eadie1Luckily for us, Eadie’s great-great grandson Rupert Patrick has resurrected the brand using the meticulous records of whisky purchases made by James himself. Only whiskies that James Eadie purchased during his lifetime make it into the blend, which contains whiskies from every whisky making region in Scotland.

Having tasted samples of all the above whiskies and my confidence growing, I am heading off for some choir practice now. Wish me luck.

Christmas Opening Hours 2018

16 December 2018 by Alex

Both of our shops (Chiswick and Kew) will be open longer in the run up to Christmas.

We’re also staying open until 7pm on Christmas Eve in case you have any last minute beer, wine or spirit needs.

Our shops will all be open until 8pm on New Year’s Eve.

On Mondays in January, our shops will operate reduced opening hours opening between 4pm and 8pm.

 Date                                             Chiswick                        Kew
Monday 17 December 11am to 8pm 11am to 8pm
Tuesday 18 December 10am to 9pm 10am to 9pm
Wednesday 19 December 10am to 9pm 10am to 9pm
Thursday 20 December 9am to 9pm 9am to 9pm
Friday 21 December 9am to 10pm 9am to 10pm
Saturday 22 December 9am to 10pm 9am to 10pm
Sunday 23 December 10am to 9pm 10am to 9pm
Monday 24 December 9am to 7pm 9am to 7pm
Tuesday 25 December CLOSED CLOSED
Wednesday 26 December CLOSED CLOSED
Thursday 27 December 12pm to 8pm 12pm to 8pm
Friday 28 December 10am to 10pm 10am to 10pm
Saturday 29 December 10am to 10pm 10pm to 10pm
Sunday 30 December 11am to 8pm 11am to 8pm
Monday 31 December 10am to 8pm 10am to 8pm
Tuesday 1 January CLOSED CLOSED

BLANK bottle – Good Wine, Real People, Great Stories

10 December 2018 by Richard

Pieter Walser is the brains behind the BLANK bottle concept. He reminds me of the most popular boy at school who effortlessly excels at everything he does. He shines as a cult winemaker, an artist, a marketer, a surfer, an actor, a negociant, a designer, an entrepreneur, a family man, a visionary, a raconteur, a party animal, a leader, a rebel, a genius, a magician… you get my drift. Whilst Pieter comfortably wears all these hats with great aplomb, he says he prefers not to wear a hat at all, not knowing how to label himself. Speaking of labels, it is really hard not judge his wines by their inimitable, ingenious labels, especially as Pieter draws every one himself and they all have an engaging and absorbing story.

New Wines

Some of the newly landed, limited edition wines – from left-to-right Epileptic Inspiration, Jaa-Bru & PhD.

Pieter’s very first, virtually self-taught effort at making wine was in his last year at Uni using a friend’s garage. Clearly he had a golden touch as he quickly sold on all he made, using his tenacity and radiating charm. His impecunious student status must have informed his decision to plough back every rand into buying more barrels and finding more extraordinary vineyards to source grapes.

In 2004, when Pieter was just beginning to bottle his own wines, one of his first customers proclaimed “I don’t do Shiraz”. So, Pieter poured her a glass of straight Shiraz, without telling her what is was. “I love it” she immediately bellowed! It was at that time that Pieter decided not to varietally label his wines, with the idea of breaking down all preconceived ideas about what you find yourself drinking.

Still to this day, Pieter has no land to his name and buys in grapes and rents vineyards, often on short-term contracts. Usually the wine’s provenance is shown as Western Cape, as the grapes that go in to the blends come from different districts. Some wines are repeated year after year, while others are one-off releases. The limitations are what excite him and there are always new parcels and opportunities arising.

In a nutshell, BLANK bottle is a series of limited edition wines, each with its own individual story, made from specially selected parcels of grapes from around the Cape. In terms of winemaking, this is about as boutique as it gets. Pieter’s scale-small winemaking is hands-off with old barrels being used so that the wine expresses a sense of place. They fit perfectly into our GOOD WINE, REAL PEOPLE, GREAT STORIES philosophy.

Pieter and Friends

Pieter, 3rd right, with his ‘party animal’ hat on, at one of our annual tasting events at The Good Wine Shop.

Having built up such a good rapport with Pieter over the last couple of years, we recently asked if he would make a wine exclusively for us. He duly barrel-fermented and blended one barrel of Macabeo with a barrel of Fernão Pires, making just 670 bottles and drew a fetching label featuring members of The Good Wine Shop team. I get a hipster makeover with some dark glasses! It has an alluring stone fruit and tropical fruit nose – peach, guava and pineapple – delicate floral tones and a richly textured palate with bright acidity and a saline mineral finish. It is a perfect match with pan-fried scallops with parsnip purée & pancetta crumbs.

The Good Wine Shop blend by BLANK bottle (yes, Pieter drew us upside down!)

The Good Wine Shop blend by BLANK bottle (yes, Pieter drew us upside down!)

What I’ll be Drinking this Christmas

1 December 2018 by Richard

The festive spirit only really comes alive in our house in mid-December, the day after my wife’s birthday… but I think I may have snaffled a record this year by consuming my first mince pies as early as September. Does that seem wrong? Listen up: my daughter’s year-round breakfast consists of a HOT CROSS BUN – now that does seem wrong to me. Surely, you should have them for high tea?! But at least you can only buy mince pies for 5 months of the year, not all year round! Like seasonal fruit and vegetables, they are so much tastier and I feel a little bit smug. I am sure I am not alone in thinking Christmas should be like the first unforced asparagus of the season. It should be a special season of indulgence, a once-a-year banquet with exceptional wine in the company of your nearest and dearest, right?
RisleusAt home, we start with some celebratory Champagne, toast our health and happiness and attempt to sing happy birthday to Jesus. This year, we will pop the Hubert Paulet Risleus 1er Cru 2002 – the flavours of ripe baked pears and apples, freshly-baked bread, buttery croissants and crushed sea-shells are super expressive and a joy to sip. All this is topped off with the London Philharmonic playing Handel’s Messiah in the background – Hosanna in the highest.
Sat down, cross-armed, we will all pull crackers, don the hats and read the jokes. Why did the turkey cross the road twice? To prove he wasn’t a chicken! Urggh, the old ones are best, aren’t they?
Speaking of the turkey, it is a misconception that I just grab a number of random bottles when locking-up the shop on Christmas Eve. No, no, my festive wines have been in the planning stage much longer than that. So, about 5 minutes before close, I will line up some options. I pick two for the turkey. What shall I have? Doah, the red Burgundy of course. Pinot Noir works wonderfully with turkey (or goose) and Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux’s Vosne-Romanee Les Chaumes Premier Cru 2008 has dark berry fruit and striking truffle and undergrowth notes. Or, should I really splurge on Roberto Voerzio’s Cerequio Barolo 2009, which is a stunner, having captivating me previously with its generous, inviting fruit and seductive personality. With the hands of the Christmas Eve wine o’clock tick-tocking down, I decide to take both.Vosne
Heading for the door, I remember the fromage wine – Stilton is a must on our cheese board and demands a sweet wine so, without hesitation, I grab Paul Meunier’s Maury with both hands. This lightly fortified, sweet yet fuzzy, port-like wine is made from old Grenache vines organically grown on a remote and windswept vineyard on rocky black schist in the Roussillon. It is a mesmerizing match.
Relieved that I have survived another Christmas in wine retail, I lob the shop keys into the foot well of my car and make a mental note to look out my Zalto Mystique decanter and Zalto Burgundy glasses so that the wines rock, along with Christmas itself.
Maury SmallBy the late afternoon of Christmas Day, replete but with my stomach now bigger than my eyes were, I get to gorge on a luxury, 12-month matured Christmas pudding. I will sneak a glass of ‘Antique’ Pedro Ximenez, aka PX, by Fernando de Castilla and (don’t tell anyone) another, later, with a mince pie. This Sherry is 20 years old and its luscious sweetness is tempered by an amazing array of complex flavours – coffee, fig, liquorice, tea and raisins. I am in heaven as all my Christmas sugar hits have landed in one stupendous smash.
Merry Christmas everyone.

Is This an ‘I Was There’ Moment? The Wines of Alheit

25 November 2018 by Richard

20121005_cartology_001_2016

Is this an ‘I was there’ wine moment? I think so. I was there. I bought the first ever vintage of Alheit Cartology, the 2011. It was revolutionary to me at the time – it had such clarity; a wine with a truly authentic Cape identity. Back then, just 22 barrels were produced of this profound blend of mostly Chenin Blanc with a touch of Semillon. Thankfully, due to a diligent search for special, old vineyards around the Cape, there is a bit more of the Cartology bottling to go around these days! Today, Chris and Suzaan Alheit make a range of single vineyard white wines in addition to Cartology, wines which are already sought-after but threaten with each successive vintage to cross the line into unobtainable… It will no doubt comfort me – a little – to know ‘I was there’ at the beginning when I can no longer find any bottles for my own cellar!

Suzaan Chris

Chris and Suzaan Alheit

Alheit’s focus remains strongly on dry-farmed heritage vineyards, mostly white grapes, but they are getting very excited about new sites they have found, planting vines in wonderful, often remote, places. Consequently, they have released additional single vineyard wines this year, which are from extreme locations or just produce exceptional fruit. We have secured a minuscule allocation (6 bottles per wine) of some of these, including your last chance ever to get your hands on a bottle of Radio Lazarus:

radio_lazarus_2017 horizThis remarkable Chenin Blanc was originally a single vineyard wine, but since the 2015 vintage comes from two plots planted in 1971 and 1978. Sadly, due to an extremely dry vintage in 2018 these already low-yielding vineyards are no longer viable for wine production (these vineyards only produced 50 litres of wine between them in 2018!) making 2017 the last vintage of Radio Lazarus to be released.

huilkrans_2017 horizThe new Huilkrans bottling (named after a cliff near the vineyard that ‘weeps’ when it rains) is from a vineyard that the Alheits have worked with for some time but has finally matured enough to stand on its own. A richer, deeper style than some in the portfolio due in part to deep red sand soil over a base of red clay, this nonetheless shows great saline minerality and appetising spice notes.

la_colline_vineyard_2017 horizThe La Colline Semillon is from a vineyard planted in 1936 containing a mixture of three Semillon clones: Semillon Blanc, Gris, and Rose. The result is a ripe, citrussy style that retains great freshness and meshes beautifully with some well-judged oak. More delicately textured than the Chenins but no less intense.

So, if you love truly great wines with a sense of place and authenticity, and you’d also like a chance to say ‘I was there’ – I suggest you pick a bottle or two before I do!

Click here to browse our full range of Alheit wines.

All pictures credit Alheit Vineyards www.alheitvineyards.co.za

Domaine Paul Meunier – a New Star is Born

29 October 2018 by Alex

P Meunier Vineyard

I first visited Paul Meunier just after his maiden vintage in 2014 after a tip-off that a bright, young, talented winemaker was breathing life back into former co-operative winery in a village called Centernach, just south of Maury in the Agly Valley in the southern Roussillon region. Such was the excitement during the visit that The Good Wine Shop decided to be the first and sole importer of these wines into the UK.

Over the preceding years Paul had been buying a few small prize plots of ancient vineyards in the hills surrounding Centernach and has been energetically nurturing the vines so that they can produce, fresh, refined, savoury, terroir-driven wines again. Powerful, sun-kissed darkly fruited and spicy, oaky wines are what you might expect from this district but Paul’s wines are light, pure and thrilling – the polar opposite.

IMG_2887

In part, this could be explained by Paul’s upbringing; the son of a Burgundian vintner, so wine must be in his blood. He gained immensely valuable experience making wine across the globe for 5 years, rapidly accelerated by working vintages each year in both northern and southern hemispheres. Having completed his apprenticeship Paul fell in love with the beautiful, wild vineyard landscape in this area, the towering Pyrenes as a backdrop. He also had the freedom and energy, which sometimes only a young, highly-ambitious vigneron has, to expertly express this place in his wines.

Official recordings of vineyard plantings only commenced in 1950, so many of Paul’s vineyards are at least 78 years old and some exceed 100 years. His highest site is 350 meters and whilst the soil types vary, schists, of varying colours, dominate. Very low yields of organically grown and hand harvested Carignan, Grenache, Syrah, Macabeu and Grenache Gris are naturally fermented in small, inert concrete vats, concrete eggs and ceramic amphora, all with the purpose of letting the wine & terroir express themselves.

My favourites wine is the 2015 Côtes du Roussillon Blanc made from Macabeu and Grenache Gris planted in, or before, 1950 from a 269 meter high, rugged, black schist site near the neighbouring village of St Paul de Fenouillet. It is bright with generous stone fruit flavours, a stony salinity and perfect poise and presence.

The debut 2014 vintage of the red Cotes du Roussillon Villages is carefully assembled from vineyards in the villages of St-Arnac, Lesquerde, St-Paul and Maury. Carignan, Syrah, Grenache, Lladoner Pelut (aka ‘the hairy Grenache’), Macabeu come from 10 to 100 years old vines grown at elevations from 130 to 300 meters. It is delightfully low in alcohol, especially for this part of the world and it has great elegance, refined red fruits, crunchy acidity and a note of schist. Comparisons have been made with Premier Cru Cotes de Nuits Burgundy – high praise indeed.Paul Meunier Grapes

From a single vineyard of 100% Grenache Noir planted in 1981 at 200 meters on a 0.58 hectare plot of windswept black schist is Paul’s Maury, a Vin Doux Naturel, that has a sweet, yet grippy port-like quality with a generous level of alcohol, aided by a light fortification. I believe he is doffing his hat to the vintage port houses as I established that part of it is made like port, part like a traditional Maury. It is my choice as an alternative to port this Christmas and is a more moderate, in terms of both alcohol and price.

Rave reviews from Jancis Robinson have followed but there are absolutely no signs of the dreaded DSAS – ‘difficult second album syndrome’. The opposite in fact as the current releases seem to point to stardom.

Intrigued? Click here to browse the range of wines from this great estate.

As an interesting post script, Napoleon disapproved of the Occitan language, which was widely used then, and renamed Centernach, ‘Saint Arnac’. Amusingly, Paul points out that there is no such Saint and that when spoken in French the word arnaque means a swindle! Paul understandably prefers to use the original spelling…

Sherry – Lifting the veil on the world’s most versatile fortified wine

16 October 2018 by Alex

winery-2096700_1920Long liberated from the back of the cupboard (usually around Christmas in honour of elderly relatives) Sherry is wooing a younger generation of drinkers fascinated by the charms of Flor, oxidative ageing and a wide choice of styles for different food pairing experiences.

No other fortified wine can supply bone–dry, saline and yeasty styles like Manzanilla and Fino which pair so perfectly with salted almonds, olives and of course anchovies and produce lusciously sweet and rich PX for drinking with blue cheese and dark bitter chocolate – while also creating a range of dry, umami driven styles between those two extremes that work with savoury dishes brilliantly.

A quick guide to Sherry pairing

A quick guide to Sherry pairing…

Umami rules….

Umami is our fifth taste – if you enjoy the flavour of dried porcini, shitake mushrooms, soy, nori seaweed, tomatoes, air-dried cured meat and marmite then you are an umami fiend. Sherry’s long ageing under flor yeast and in partially filled barrels causes it to develop an umami flavour making it the ideal partner for a surprising range of foods.

 

Tresillo Amontillado Viejo

Try a slug of a good dry Amontillado in porcini risotto or a chilled, dry Oloroso with some Jamon off – cuts over good tomatoes.

On Thursday the 1st of November, Kew is running a tasting of exceptional Sherries from smaller producers, each paired with a “pinxto “ or tapa, to celebrate the unique artisanal quality and versatility of these beautiful wines. Click here to get your tickets or read on below for a sneak peek of what we will be tasting…

Included in the line-up there will be a Fino “En Rama”, bottled in the spring or autumn when the Flor is thickest, and usually unfiltered; La Panesa, a fabulous aged Fino, Gobernador Oloroso and the very rare 1874 El Tresillo Amontillado from Emilio Hidalgo; Palo Cortado from Almacenista Cayetano del Pino and two sweet styles including a Moscatel from Cesar Florido in the little town of Chipiona and the wonderful Antique PX from Fernando de Castilla.

Furleigh Estate – Sweet Dreams are Made of This

12 October 2018 by Richard

Grapes in VineyardI was lucky enough to visit the green, rolling hills of West Dorset, not far from the Jurassic coast, to experience the bountiful and highly-rated 2018 harvest at Furleigh Estate.

What a back story to Rebecca Hansford and Ian Edwards’s journey into the wine industry!  As former actuaries, owning and running a vineyard in, arguably, one of the most beautiful parts of England is the stuff dreams are made of, right?  But the dream gets sweeter as Rebecca grew up on the family dairy farm at Furleigh.  I guess dairy farming on an 80-acre scale became untenable at some point and the farm had to be sold.  After successful London-based actuary careers, courageously, as at that time the English sparkling wine industry was in its relative infancy, they bought back the farm and planted vines.  Convinced by their thorough research, they had a clear view of producing quality English sparkling wine and, with laser-guided precision, planted 22,000 carefully-chosen vines.  The classic Champagne grape varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier – were chosen to be planted on the sunny, south-facing, free-draining, sandy-loam slopes.

BottlesNot only is their experience as actuaries apparent in their fastidious planning but also in their approach to managing the vineyards and making the wine.  Recent awards for the Classic Cuvée, judging it to be the ‘most outstanding UK sparkling wine’ and Ian becoming UK winemaker of the year, are testament to this.

I helped harvest some tasty Pinot Noir grapes on a gloriously sunny early October morning.  In most years it is a little less sunny and warm and the rainfall is more frequent, making organic viticulture almost impossible.  However, a non-interventionist approach informs the winemaking with no adulteration during outstanding harvests, such as 2018.Picking Pinot

Once our hand-harvested grapes arrived in the winery they are very gently, whole-bunch pressed.  Innovation came into play too, as for the first time ever some grapes were foot stomped and our party got to immerse their feet in their own rich pickings.  Such was the high from the foot pressing team that they suggested ‘treading’ could become a therapeutic foot treatment for the ladies and gentlemen of London.  You heard of it here first folks.Treading

The wines are made in the prolonged and labour-intensive traditional method, as practiced in Champagne, and remain on their lees for over two years before bottling and release.  This allows a more rounded and balanced flavour to develop and a small proportion of reserve wine, which is from older vintages and adds complexity, is blended into the carefully assembled final wines.  As most of the wine is from a single vintage, it is dated accordingly and very much reflects the climatic conditions of that year.  Ian rated the current release of the Classic Cuvée, the 2014, as another exceptional year.  Rebecca suggested trying it with the local fresh fish and chips or a creamy seafood gratin, but I loved it with sea bass with sizzled ginger, chilli & spring onions, which I cooked the next day.

After a 15-hour shift by all the winery team, followed by a wholesome and hearty harvest supper I imagine sweet dreams were indeed had by all.