Talking Wine – August 2018

With such lovely warm weather throughout June and July it looks as if England is set to have a bumper wine crop this year . In fact following the small 2017 vintage this year is expected to produce the best ever quality too. For those interested 2006 was big in terms of yield and 2009 and 2014 were considered very good years. The only real causes for concern are if the drought continues relentlessly or if we get hailstorms at any point. The wine writer Steven Spurrier has his own vineyard in Dorset and is apparently a “happy bunny” whilst Frazer Thompson of Chapel Down says ” As an industry we rely heavily on the good Lord and we realise he is a pretty unreliable partner but this is the best I have seen for 18 years”

In the meantime we can report that Jenkyn Place which produces excellent quality sparkling wine in Hampshire has hired a new recruit to help protect 2000 new Pinot Noir vines from rabbits and pheasants. His name is Bertie , a spaniel, and he is equipped with a highly visable jacket to deter unwanted visitors. Berties “job” is to send the rabbits scurrying home and make the pheasants feel very unwelcome too. Both can prey on the rootstock and destroy their future health. I’m not sure that he has been specifically trained but maybe there is a business opportunity here !

Aurelio Montes , the famous Chilean wine maker, has planted vines on one of the most southerly regions in the world – the tiny island of Chiloe in southern Patagonia. The project will see plantings of Chardonnay, Riesling, Albarino, Sauvignon and Pinot Noir. They are planted in tiny plots and only time will tell which perform the best. “I have been thinking of doing this for 50 years” says Aurelio “but I now understand the extremes and am determined to succeed”. The soil is very much volcanic ash so drainage should not prevent a problem and some lagoons tend to trap warmer waters in them which should stop frost being an issue. One of his ambitions is to produce a sparkling wine within 5 years.