Friday, 27 September 2013

Our first taste of Albury Estate sparkling

Together with winemaker John Worontschak, and Stephen Skelton MW, I excitedly tasted the very first bottle of Albury Estate sparkling wine earlier today, a NV blend of wines from the 2011 and 2012 vintages.

It was only bottled earlier this year and has therefore just been through secondary fermentation to give it it's fizz. It will continue to rest on the yeast in the bottle (known as sur latte) for at least another year to develop it's character.

It's far too early to make a final judgement but I was delighted with the results so far. Stephen commented "Whilst the wine was still young and heavily influenced by the evident yeast sediment, it had good structure, with a fine, slightly creamy acidity and good length. Given another 12 months on the yeast, and with the right level of dosage (sweetening wine), I am sure it will be excellent."

Sometime next summer we will decide whether to release it for Christmas 2014 or wait until the summer of 2015. Not sure if I can wait that long!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Veraison and the Harvest

We are probably still 5 weeks away from the harvest as veraison is late this year. It started week beginning 26th August with the Seyval, week commencing 2nd September for the Pinot Meunier with the Pinot Noir a week later. Last week the Chardonnay were still pretty green.

Grapes have two distinct growth phases. The first phase is when the cells divide and expand and the grapes begin to swell and fill out the bunch. Veraison is when they move to the second phase, when the acidity decreases and sugars are accumulated which gives them colour.

The level of sugar accumulation in the berries is dependant on leaf photosynthesis, which is why we could do with some more sun! As we have a lot of fruit on the vines this year its going to be quite a struggle to get them ripe and as a result the harvest is likely to be in the second half of October or even early November. The later it gets the more prone we are to botrytis bunch rot.

As the fruit begins to ripen it becomes more attractive to the birds (and the pheasant) so we have started to deploy the Hawkites and will be netting parts of the vineyard.

There's always something to worry about on the vineyard!