December 2004  

Winery Notes


New Wine Cellar, New Plantings, Harvest………

I apologise for the long silence. I see that I last posted Winery Notes about a year ago, a short piece announcing the success of the 1999 Cuvée Rémy Alexandre sparkling wine at the English Wine Festival. It was awarded the top prize as Best Wine of the Show. Sales of this wine are stronger than ever and I have recently received enquiries from a couple of major distributors who are interested in stocking Breaky Bottom fizz. In September 2004 the 1999 was awarded a Bronze Medal in the International Wine Challenge beating many champagnes, including vintage champagnes.

I also noted that recovery from the floods of October 2000 was still part of our daily lives and although we are winning the battle I must admit that there is more work to be done. However, major mud removal from around the house and garden has allowed us to re-seed the lawns and they are already looking beautiful. I have sown a special chalk wild flower meadow mix in the outer orchard – not cheap and not easy to establish but certainly very worthwhile. It will not be cut until August and will encourage more butterflies, insects, birds and all sorts of other creatures such as lizards, slowworms, hedgehogs, field mice etc.

The fine summer of 2003 produced some good-looking wines. In September we completed work on the new cellar. It is a purpose-built fully temperature controlled construction set within the flint barn winery. I am delighted to have this new facility which will give increased capacity (40,000 bottles) and enable wines to be stored at a constant 10-12 degrees, perfect conditions for optimum maturation of still and sparkling wines.

By the end of May 2004 we finished planting nearly 2000 vines, specifically with sparkling wine in mind - principally Chardonnay but also several rows of Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. Breaky Bottom has produced fine sparkling wines since 1994 with 100% Seyval Blanc but the inclusion of these noble Champagne varieties should add an extra dimension and finesse to the wine.

The harvest this year was very light after the most unseasonable winds which blew for three days at the end of June, just when the Seyval were coming into flower. Interestingly the small three-year-old plantation of Chardonnay flowered a few days earlier and set a full crop. The margin between success and failure in the vineyard is finely balanced. Despite the small crop we had the usual eclectic collection of pickers, among them a genealogist flown in from Manhattan, three surgeons, an opera director, a bomb disposal expert – and, at the last minute, a Mr Jingle from Pickwick Papers who timed his arrival for lunch!

Peter Hall 2004