Winery Notes - December 2005

Breaky Bottom - Hollow Track2005 Vintage

As the years go by I am able to recall each vintage, usually attaching to something particular that marks the season and allows it to sit in the memory. There were two such events this year. Several frosty nights during the second week of May cruelly nipped off many of the young flowers within the bud, so I knew from early on that the harvest would be small. Breaky Bottom is close to the sea and late spring frosts of this severity are unusual. However, my disappointment was balanced somewhat by the wonderful autumn weather which meant that the modest crop was of the highest quality, clean ripe grapes with exceptionally high sugars, and should make some fine sparkling wine.

Breaky Bottom - SparrowhawkSparrow-hawk

The second recollection for 2005 will be the surprise visit from a handsome male Sparrow Hawk. He arrived during the harvest, complete with a freshly killed pigeon, which he proceeded to eat from the top of one of the wine tanks, feathers all over the place. Most of the time he spent high up in the eaves of the barn observing the goings on down below. He took occasional ‘shots’ at me from above but I nevertheless enjoyed his company. Despite the barn doors being open day and night he chose to stay for three days. I daydreamed that he had opted for the full winemaking course. By the morning of day four he had gone. The pigeon was picked to the bone.

Each year during high summer I take great pleasure in making the Breaky Bottom Crème de Cassis. The blackcurrants are painstakingly picked, a fiddly process, and if you can fill a bucket in an hour you have done well. Katie Exton was helping us this summer before she went off to work in a vineyard in Canada and then Australia. The fruit is steeped and pressed, sugar is added, and alcohol to bring the finished liqueur up to 20%.

Breaky Bottom - Katie
Katie in the blackcurrants
Breaky Bottom - Shaft of light
A shaft of light reveals hidden delights

I am amazed, only a few days after picking, at the intense aroma and flavour that develops with the magnificence of deep burgundy. Devotees enjoy it straight and also find it adds a touch of finesse to all sorts of desserts. The secret of the delicious Kir Royal which we launched so successfully this summer is due, in no small part, to the richness of the Cassis.

Ministers' Tipple
Sales of Breaky Bottom are up again this year. Harveys in Lewes continue to be the best retail outlet away from the vineyard. They not only brew the finest beer in the land but offer a splendid range of wines of the world – well worth a visit to browse the fine wine section. Repeat orders are a good indication of customer satisfaction and I have been delighted that the Government Hospitality cellars at Lancaster House, St James’s have taken three large consignments of Cuvée Rémy Alexandre 1999.

Christmas Orders
I have prepared a special mixed case for Christmas which may appeal. Otherwise you are welcome to chose from the full range of Breaky Bottom wines, and I am always able to mix cases as you wish. There is a free Christmas delivery during the month of December (excluding Northern Ireland and parts of Scotland). Please click on the website button for further information.


Christmas Mixed Case: £102.50

1 x Sparkling Brut 1999
1 x Kir Royal
2 x Seyval Blanc 1996
2 x Seyval Blanc 2003
2 x Seyval / Muller 1997
2 x Muller Thurgau 1996
1 x ½ Late Harvest 1999
1 x ½ Cassis


Breaky Bottom Kir Royal
The new Kir Royal label with Laurent Perrier pink!

For orders and further information about the wines:
Phone/Fax 01273 476 427

We wish you a Happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year

Peter Hall will be giving free tastings of Breaky Bottom wines at Harvey & Son, Cliffe High Street, Lewes on Saturday 3 December from 11am to 3pm