As a winemaker I take pleasure in the fact that every season is different and this year has been no exception. The national forecast was for a record crop with several new vineyards coming on tap for the first time. But the weather was difficult and the slow spring and early part of the summer set the flowering back well into July. The rest of the growing season was for the most-part cool and overcast and sunshine was scarce. The harvest didn't start until 24th October, finishing only on 9th November. A challenging year, but worth the wait to finally achieve a good level of ripeness, beautifully captured by our photographer friend Axel Hesslenberg.
The ever-increasing acreage of vines being planted in the UK continues. Last week it was announced that the Champagne house Taittinger has acquired some land in Kent and will be planting around 100 acres in 2017. This is of great significance; an endorsement from the 'top' acknowledging that the quality of the best sparkling wines from the UK are not being overlooked by the Champagne masters. They anticipate their first vintage will be on the market in the early 2020s. I wonder whether they plan to market the wine in the UK or in France!
This year Breaky Bottom has won another Gold Medal in the International Wine Challenge, the 2009 Chardonnay/Pinot. I have named it 'Cuvée Gerard Hoffnung', remembering a great humorist, cartoonist and musician who was a dear friend of the Hall family. Sadly he was only 34 when he died; he would have been 90 this year so appropriate to celebrate a most wonderful man who left such an impression on me as a child. And, by the way, the wine is excellent!