The first still wines from Bride Valley Vineyard – explained by Steven Spurrier
I had always promised myself that if ever the vintage was good enough I would make some still wine and last year the opportunity was too good to resist.
Sparkling wine is ‘manipulated’ to become sparkling, the grapes not needing to produce more than 8 degrees of alcohol as sugar can be added to the first fermentation (a process known as ‘chaptalisation’). But for still wine, you need at least 11 degrees to start with and for English vineyards this is not something to be expected and certainly not every year. However, as the harvest opened in late September, a good two weeks earlier than usual, the Pinot Noir grapes looked so perfect and tasted so good that the first morning’s work went over to Ian Edwards at Furleigh Estate with instructions to vinify it as red. The natural alcohol was 11.5 and it was chaptalised up to 12.5, the small addition of sugar actually prolonging the fermentation and ensuring a longer extraction of colour. The wine is bright red with violet tints and about one fifth of it will spend a few months in new American oak barrels to add roundness, before being bottled in September.
The total harvest in 2018 was an extraordinary 55,000 bottles of wine from our ten hectares, more than all the seven previous vintages put together. It lasted over 3 weeks and nearing the end we noticed that the Chardonnay was being attacked by a little botrytis or rot. Having filled every tank at Furleigh Estate for potential sparkling wine, Ian Edwards said he had just one small tank free which could take up to 2,500 litres, so on the very last day, the slightly botrytis affected Chardonnay was vinified, at 11.5 degrees, as a still wine. In fact, the botrytis has added a touch of richness and this wine is being bottled at Furleigh right now, we hope to be drinking it very soon.
Bride Valley Chardonnay will be available to purchase very soon… we’ll obviously keep you posted.