Thursday, 29 January 2015

Assemblage for the 2014 harvest


Yesterday Alex and I met up with our sparkling winemakers at Litmus Wines, together with Stephen Skelton MW, to taste the base wines from the 2014 vintage in order to decide what sparkling wines we would produce. In Champagne this process is called Assemblage.

There were many wines to taste; first and second pressings from the Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, as well as small amounts of Pinot Gris, and a biodynamic Chardonnay. And of course we mustn't  forget Monty's Pet Nat!

We were delighted with all the wines, especially the Pinot Meunier which Stephen was particularly impressed by. 2014 was a very good year for English wines, with no frost, good fruit set and plenty of warm sun (for England!) which has resulted in some excellent wine.

After much debate we settled on producing three quality sparkling wines; a Classic Cuvée made from the first pressings of the traditional Champagne varietals of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, an English Blanc de Blancs produced by blending Chardonnay with the Seyval, and a sparkling Rosé made from Pinot Noir and some Pinot Meunier. These will all be bottled in May for secondary fermentation which will give the wine it's fizz. The wines then mature in the bottle for around two years with the lees to give them character. Most of the wine won't be released until 2017, although we may make a small amount available for Christmas 2016.

We have also decided to make a very limited edition of a still white wine by blending the Pinot Gris with some Pinot Noir. This will be released in May but will only be available to Wine Club members and through the Cellar Door as we will have less than 300 bottles available for sale!

We will be bottling Monty's Pet Nat next week and then tasting Silent Pool Rosé 2014 in February, both of which will be released in May this year.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Attila's Bite Unleashed (Drink Carefully!)

Attila is Vineyard Manager Alex's Parson Russell Terrier

Attila's Bite, the first spirit from Albury Vineyard, will be released for sale at the end of this week.

It is a fragrant, aromatic eau de vie de vin made from Seyval wine (produced from the 2013 harvest) by the Silent Pool Distillery. It is excellent as a digestive after a meal and, from personal experience, I can recommend it with some good chocolate!

Only 350 bottles (40%, 35cl) will be available for sale from the following retailers, where limited tastings are also available for those intending to buy:

It makes an ideal Christmas present;  each bottle has a Limited Edition gift tag showing the bottle number.

Albury Wine Club members can purchase Attila's Bite direct from the vineyard but we expect it to be sold out by Christmas.

Drink Carefully!


Thursday, 4 December 2014

The PM toasts Surrey with Silent Pool Rosé

David Cameron intrigued by Attila's Bite! 
Last week Anne Milton MP hosted an event at the Houses of Parliament to showcase all the fabulous things that Surrey has to offer, including of course our wine.

Silent Pool Rosé was enjoyed by many MP's and their staff as they visited us between important debates and votes in the House. We were particularly delighted that David Cameron stopped by and tasted Silent Pool Rosé which he declared as "lovely".  He also seemed intrigued by Attila's Bite which we will be releasing for sale next week.

As a bottle of Silent Pool Rosé was included in the Christmas hamper (full of Surrey goodies) that was presented to the PM, he will hopefully be enjoying our wine on Christmas Day!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Attila and the Cow Horns



Now that the harvest has finished we are busy tidying up the vineyard and preparing for next year. This of course includes burying our cow horns, filled with dung from a lactating cow, which will form the basis of biodynamic preparation 500.

Biodynamics is an advanced form of organic viticulture. "Bio" means life and "Dynamics" means energy. It's an holistic approach which aims to harmonise nature's elemental forces of the earth (the soil), water (the vines), air (the weather) and fire (the sun). It also recognises that the phases of the moon have a significant influence on plants through gravitational forces.

The cow horns will be dug up in the Spring and the contents dynamised in water. The solution is then sprayed on the vineyard to improve fertility and encourage the natural sense of terrior in the grapes which will help produce great wine.

I know that some of you will think that we are crazy (including Alex's dog Attila!) but many of the great vineyards around the world are convinced by the biodynamic approach, including Romanée-Conti in Burgundy, Coulee de Serrant in the Loire, Beaux Freres in Oregon, Hensche in Australia and Jean-Pierre Fleury in Champagne. I'm just happy to be in such great company.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Cow Pat Pit



Cow Pat Pit (CPP) is a biodynamic preparation that stimulates soil activity and enhances the humus forming processes of the soil. It also helps to initiate the fermentation of manure and activates organic matter conversion in compost. Research carried out after the Chernobyl disaster showed how it helped reduce the effects of radioactive fallout on land where it was applied.

It is made by mixing cow manure with crushed egg shell and basalt dust, which is then fermented with biodynamic preparations 502-507 for a three to four months in a 12 inch deep pit lined with bricks.

Unfortunately we didn't get around making our own CPP this year, but instead have sourced some from the Biodynamic Association which we have added to a compost pile that will be spread on the vineyard in the next few weeks. This will help address deficiencies some nitrogen and minerals deficiencies which were identified by a petiole analysis earlier in the year. Biodynamics and science working in harmony!

Friday, 24 October 2014

The weather shines on our 2014 Harvest



At around 8.30pm on Wednesday we delivered our final load of grapes to our winemakers - 5 tonnes of of lovely clean ripe organic Pinot Meunier which concluded a mammoth picking day of 12 tonnes of grapes, totalling around 28 tonnes of fruit for the harvest overall.

Undoubtedly this has been our best year so far. Unlike the last three years, the weather has been really kind to us; no frosts in the spring, good fruit set in the early summer and lovely warm sunshine in July, some of August, September and early October. The rain even held off, and the sun made a showing, on our picking days.

This has resulted in some really lovely must (grape juice) with good sugars, which is now fermenting at the winery. Overall we will probably be able to make around 6,000 bottles of our Silent Pool Rosé and 18,000 bottles of classic cuvée, blanc de blanc, and rosé quality sparkling wines.


Huge thanks to Alex, Andrea, JB, Peter, Linda and Lucy, as well all of you who have been involved during the year, especially family, friends and wine club members who picked last Saturday.

Time for a bit of a rest, but not for long as we will be bottling Attila's bite in a couple of weeks time and then pruning will start in December! There will be a harvest party on December 13th for wine club members and those involved in the harvest - details to follow soon.


Saturday, 18 October 2014

Crushing grapes by hand!


Last week we picked some of our Chardonnay grapes and crushed them by hand to make a Pied de Cuve. The idea of this is to cultivate naturally occurring yeasts on the skins of the grapes which can be used to ferment wine.

Using natural yeasts in this way, instead of commercial yeasts, means we can make two types of ‘natural wines’ - a biodynamic sparkling and a Petillant Naturel. We hope that these wines will have a real sense of ‘place’ or terroir, having been made with natural yeasts from the vineyard. Many people enjoy biodynamic and natural wines as they are lower in alcohol, softer in bubbles and have very few sulphites added.

The winemaker has very little control over the process of making these wines and has to rely on nature to do its work. As far as we are aware, no other vineyards in England have made a Pet Nat so maybe Albury Vineyard will be the first. Most people either love or hate wines made in this way. We will be interested to see what you think of ours!