What an action-packed couple of weeks! The winery has been a rush of activity, with grapes coming in from our own vineyards in Kent and West Sussex – in concentrated bursts, thanks to the few days of rain we experienced – being weighed, pressed and then transferred to either stainless steel tanks or oak barrels.

The quality of the fruit harvested this year has been exceptional, with very few areas of concern, almost no disease pressure despite the few days of rain, and superb levels of ripeness.

With all the juice now in tanks and in barrels, the winemaking team can start to breathe a sigh of relief. However, the hard work is not finished yet; far from it. As the juice starts its first fermentation, it’s monitored daily by Charlie and the team.

Having tasted through some of the tanks last week, it seems we have the beginnings of some really attractive base wines. Indeed, just from tasting the ferments, we’re starting to pick up many wide-ranging flavours within the wines and within each of the different grape varieties, which will make the blending process particularly interesting.

Between now and Christmas, the wines will finish their first fermentation, undergo a malolactic fermentation – a conversion of the harsh ‘malic’ acids to softer ‘lactic’ acids – and then be ready to taste during our base wine tastings in the New Year. These tastings each January are really important in deciding which base components will be blended into each of our wines and these base wines, as they develop in the winery over the next few months will really form the foundations of our 2020 vintage wines.

Overall the quality of the grapes and indeed the juice this year has been exceptional. The fruit was ripe, and the resulting base wines have a certain weight and intensity to them, balanced of course with the tell-tale acidity structure of any base wine. I look forward to revisiting them in tank and barrel over the next few months and to tasting them en masse in January.

Laura Rhys MS


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