Talking Wine – May 2015

Scientists are convinced that the taste of fine wines is being altered by climate change. Grapes such as the well known Merlot, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay are now growing at a faster pace making it more difficult to decide when to pick. The subtle change is in the compounds produced when ripening and the synchronisation between maximum flavour and the ratio of sugar to acid. Therefore climate change is affecting the flavours people expect from certain grapes. In some cases vineyards are grubbing up and replanting different varieties and in other cases vignerons are seeking higher ground to produce the ideal cooler climate wine. All this, of course, suits us here in the UK. When we first started planting grapes back in the 80’s we tended to plant Germanic style grape varieties which thrived in cooler climates but these are now being replaced by others including Pinot Noir and Chardonnay which make wonderful Champagne-like sparkling wine but also still wine. Gusbourne Estate who have vineyards in Kent and Sussex (and are noted for sparkling wines) make a decent still Pinot Noir which sells at around the £20 mark and is improving year on year. Bacchus is a grape which seems to suit the English climate and superb examples are made at Furleigh Estate near Bridport in Dorset. The owners, Rebecca and Ian, make an oaked and unoaked version which are not cheap at about £15.00 a bottle but need to be thought of in the top Loire mould rather than a quirky and rustic local brew which is the way that many people still see English wine. The problem is that much regional UK wine is very poor and we are constantly reviewing our English selection to concentrate on quality over price. Interestingly, at Furleigh they also make a Tyrannosaurus Red which is a wonderful name for a wine grown on the Jurassic coast but as yet not quite up to the quality. I look forward to tasting the 2014 which was a wonderful summer for grape growing!