Don’t make English vintage every year, says Exton Park winemaker

Don’t make English vintage every year, says Exton Park winemakerExton Park, in Hampshire, has just released its first vintage sparkling wine – a 2011 Blanc de Blancs – deferring from the trend amongst English winemakers to regularly produce a vintage. Exton Park, in the Hampshire South Downs. Exton Park winemaker Corrine Seely – who was part of the winemaking team for the first colorless wine at Chateau Lynch-Bages – believes that in England, because of the unpredictable weather, ‘it would be quite hard to make a excellent vintage each year.’
Exton Park Blanc de Blancs 2011
‘Of course you can make a vintage each year – apart from perhaps 2012,’ Seely said ‘but in general, you could make a vintage each year, but what I call a vintage is the finest quality possible. I don’t believe that would be possible to do here each year.’
Only 2500 bottles of the single-vineyard Blanc de Blancs 2011 were made.
Exton Park’s previous releases were non-vintage Brut, Blanc de Noirs and Rosé – all of which were awarded medals in this year’s Decanter World Wine Awards.
Seely credits Exton Park owner Malcolm Isaac for letting her take a gamble in 2011 and order extra vats to make a reserve wine – which requires more time and work to look after.
In 2011, the rainfall was low in the July flowering season, at only approximately 50ml – compared to 120ml in the washout year 2012 – followed by a warm and dry autumn.
The team at Exton Park are also feeling positive about the 2015 harvest, which is due to start on 15th October.
Vineyard Manager Fred Langdale said that the ‘fruit is looking really promising’  and he was feeling ‘quietly confident’ about it– especially after the Met Office has reported that the UK is set for an Indian summer, to last three weeks, with temperatures reaching up to 25 degrees.
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Napa Valley wine train ‘100 percent wrong’, says CEO

Napa Valley wine train ‘100 percent wrong’, says CEOThe chief executive of the Napa Valley wine train has apologised for his staff's 'insensitive' actions after their choice to eject 11 women spurred a wave of criticism on social media. A carriage view of the Napa Valley wine trainSome Chirrup and Facebook users saw the Napa Valley wine train incident as a racial issue – a motive also suggested by the women themselves – and the hashtag #laughingwhileblack has been circulating widely.
The 11 women, most of whom are African American, are part of a book club and travelled on the wine train over the weekend. Staff ordered them off the train for building too much noise.
‘The Napa Valley wine train was 100 percent incorrect in its handling of this issue,’ said wine train chief executive Anthony ‘Tony’ Giaccio. The organisation hired crisis management pr consultant Sam Singer to handle the situation. Read more

California fires rage but vineyards safe, says Napa Vintners

California fires rage but vineyards safe, says Napa VintnersNapa Valley Vintners has tried to cool concerns that the 2015 Napa wine harvest is below threat from wildfires that have seen California fire crews working day and nighttime to hegemony blazes. The Jerusalem fire in Lake County, northern California, which has burned 25,000 acres of land.Hot and hazy conditions lingered over parts of Napa Valley last weekend as California fire crews continued to battle some of the worst blazes seen in the state for years; exacerbated by a long running drought in the province.
Trade body Napa Valley Vintners (NVV) told Decanter.com on Monday (17 August) there were no reports of wildfires damaging vineyards, despite several of the California fires burning on the Napa County border. Read more

French drop tradition for private wine storage, says cellar owner

Owners of a new private cellar near Paris say growing numbers of French collectors are looking for professional wine storage to protect the value of their most precious bottles. Underground cellars at Issy-Les-Moulineaux, a former chalk quarry south of Paris.
Read Jane Anson’s column on the cellars at Issy-Les-Moulineaux from 30 July Read more

Forget gadgets and age wine gracefully, says Tony Aspler

In this age of communal Attention Deficit Disorder Syndrome a whole cosmetic industry has grown up around wine – not to make the fermented grape appear younger, but to make it taste older, writes DWWA judge Tony Aspler, who isn't having any of it. Does the sonic decanter deserve Tony Aspler's ire?It’s an industry that wants to botox away a wine’s bodily flaws with oak treatment or additional dubious implants.
As a wine writer I get deluged with gadgets and gizmos that purport to age wine quicker and smooth out its tannins.
My kitchen drawer is full of magnets the size of hockey pucks, funnels that flow like watering cans, plastic spirals like miniature water slides and pouring implements that spew wine in dizzying circles. All of them are engineered to introduce air that will unlock the wine’s bouquet and flavour. And these are just the low-tech contraptions.
If you want to get fancy you can spend the fee of a Second Progression claret on a sort of electronic push-up bra that uses electro-magnetic and acoustic waves to heighten a wine’s pH, thereby reducing its acidity.
A mild application takes 15 minutes; for a stubborn wine that needs punishing, an hour. You could even torture the wine in front of your dinner party guests.
Or you could invest $129 in the Sonic Decanter that will give your adolescent wine a frontal lobotomy. This cut of equipment, according to online publication Gizmag, uses ‘high frequency signal waves to break down preservatives, such as sulfur dioxide, transform the molecular and chemical organize of wine, and accelerate the aging administer’.
There is also a product called the Oak Bottle. And it’s just that, a bottle made of oak. You fill it with water for 24 hours, empty the water, then pour in an inexpensive wine and leave it for 48 to 72 hours to ‘impart an authentic oak flavour’.
My pal and fellow wine scribe, Oz Clarke, said of it, ‘As I take my first sniff, I immediately get a tasty aroma of vanilla. My spirits rise, but after the first sip they crash. It’s wine — with a hint of furniture polish.’
Call me an oenological Luddite but I don’t want to force my wine to grow up, so I don’t use any of these appliances.
If I want my wine to breathe, the tumbling look of pouring will do the trick and if you feel that a young wine needs a lot of aeration, double decant. That is, pour your wine into a decanter or large jug, sponge down out the bottle to remove any sediment and, using a clean funnel, pour the wine back into the bottle.
Let wine delight in its youth and watch over it with patience. Repeat this mantra after me: ‘Wine improves with age and I will increase with wine.’
Do you agree? Let us know either below tweet us @Decanter.
Tony Aspler is a Decanter World Wine Awards (DWWA) judge and was regional chair for Canada at DWWA 2015.
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Anderson Valley can be Burgundy of California, says producer

Anderson Valley can be Burgundy of California, says producerLong Meadow Dairy farm winery has bought a 59 hectare estate in California’s Anderson Valley, where it intends to emulate Burgundy by focusing on single vineyard Pinot Noir and also Chardonnay. Stephane Vivier, new winemaker at Long Meadow Dairy farm vineyards in Anderson Valley.Named Anderson Valley Estate, the site is already planted with 20 hectares of Pinot Noir, as well as seven ha of Chardonnay and just below one ha of Pinot Gris, Long Meadow Dairy farm said. It did not release financial details of the deal.
It has recruited native Burgundy winemaker Stephane Vivier (pictured) specifically for the newly bought vineyards, which lie at the ‘deep end’ of Anderson Valley close to Philo, around two hours north of San Francisco by car.
‘Expanding into estate-grown Pinot Noir and Chardonnay is a natural fit, and we believe Anderson Valley is the ideal location to produce premium, Burgundian varietal wines,’ said Long Meadow Dairy farm’s chief executive and president, Ted Hall.
‘We’ve [already] established strong positions with the classic Bordeaux varietals of Cabernet Sauvignon, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot at our Rutherford and Mayacamas Estates in Napa Valley,’ he said.
The vineyards are planted in several distinct blocks with varying elevations, soil composition, sun exposure and proximity to the Navarro river, said Long Meadow Dairy farm.
A map of Anderson Valley, northern California. Credit: Anderson Valley Winegrowers Association
Winemaker Vivier said, ‘The subtleties and complexities characteristic of the Burgundian varietals are not always simple to achieve in the United States. Pinot Noir here can have a tendency for high alcohol and can be overly fruit-forward, in part because that’s what the climate allows.
‘But in the Anderson Valley, and specifically in the deep end of the valley, the possibilities are intriguing.’
See additional recent vineyard deals in California: Read more