Posts

Glasses.

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I’m writing this in the continuous long Sunday afternoon that is the week in-between Christmas and New Year. The intake of food and drink at Higher Plot and at various relative’s abodes has been prodigious and the urge to write an article about further indulgence isn’t as strong as it could be. We don’t feel too guilty about taking advantage of the Slackmus period partly because the end of the holidays means getting our big coats on for the start of winter pruning and also, I’ve just read an article about the alcohol intake of one of the greats of the wine trade 90 year old Michael Broadbent’ His son wrote -
"Though my parents were in the wine business they aren't big drinkers. Champagne for breakfast because orange juice is so boring without Champagne. Then nothing until lunch, except perhaps you'd be given Madeira because their coffee was so bad. But otherwise nothing except for a Bloody Mary. They'd then have white and red wine with lunch and Port after, but that&#…

Post Harvest R&R

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By the time you are reading this, me and Mrs Grape will have our feet up, furry slippers on and will be on the sofa drinking cream sherry and nibbling Garibaldi biscuits whilst shouting at the telly Gogglebox style. Fred the vineyard dog will be asleep in his bed dreaming about that day when all those people turned up in waterproofs and wellies to disturb his tenacious all day snoozing.  With the help of our friends and neighbours we will have harvested six or seven tons of grapes that have been crushed and are happily bubbling away in a spic and span winery in near Bridport. 










The trouble is, as I’m writing this, we are four days before  harvest and my weather forecast habit has gone completely haywire. I am bingeing on a random rotation of half hourly Met Office, BBC and Accuweather. I am willing the band of rain predicted for Sunday to arrive early and be through by early morning. In my wilder moments I have contemplated reaching out to the owners of any convenient off shore wind tu…

You don’t always need to be small to be beautiful.

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You don’t always need to be small to be beautiful. 


Why do people with more money than sense ( which incidentally is something that I aspire to) sometimes pay thousands of pounds for a single bottle of wine? One of the main reasons is scarcity. If there are only a few hundred bottles of something then wealthy people can pay ridiculous prices to own one of them. This is all very well but are there wines that are real classics that are produced in large enough quantities for us mere mortals? One of the best places to find the answer is Rioja where producers such as Muga and Rioja Alta make large volumes of absolutely consistent genuine quality. My absolute favourite is a company called called CVNE (Pronounced Coonay) - Compania Vinicola del Norte de Espana or roughly translated as The North Spanish Wine Company. So far so glamourous.  A few years back ( well, almost 20 if I was being honest) I worked for their British agent and have loved their wines ever since to the extent that more of…

Here's a winemaking game to play, Twist or Stick?

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The information available to play this game is - as of 5th October your grapes are ripe enough to pick. They would produce a wine of around 9-9.5 % alcohol which is plenty and would make a nice wine but you'd probably need a tiny amount of sugar added to the tank to bring it up to 10%. The key thing isn't this but, it's ( adopts Greg Wallace from Masterchef voice) flavour. They are already picking up some nice interesting qualities beyond just tasting of sugar and acid but, if you left them for another week, they could get really interesting. So, it seems obvious that you'd leave them. The dilemma is, the weather is currently perfect but, next week there's a chance of rain which adds the risk of disease and would dilute the juice. Here's the Met Office forecast.
UK Outlook for Sunday 9 Oct 2016 to Tuesday 18 Oct 2016: The largely settled weather is expected to continue through much of this period. Despite som…

Living the dream - Ten things that might help you if you are planning to make wine from scratch in England.

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As we followed the big removal truck down our road in the burbs to start our life back in the West Country, one of our neighbours shouted "livin the dream" by way of goodbye . Life was going to be one extended  daytime TV property show. The sun would always be shining, all year round lambs would be frolicking in the fields  and horny handed sons of toil would be leaning on gates and chewing straw ready for a chat and a glass of cider. Of course, this has absolutely no resemblance to how we were feeling - we were completely arse clenchingly terrified.  What sort of practical things would our 1997 selves have liked to have known before we started our big adventure  that may have helped us on the way?


1. If you are in possession of a large fortune, welcome to having a small fortune. If you are in possession of a small fortune, say goodbye to it. If you don't have any fortune, you are about to give every waking moment over to your dream of making great wine and so, ask you…

Jancis Robinson.

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When I started out in the wine business, there were two people neither of which I have ever met that had a huge influence on me. One was Hugh Johnson and the other was Jancis Robinson. Today there is a whole industry of wine commentators all vying for PR spend of mega bucks wineries but it is still frustratingly rare to find writers that have their happy combination of a fine palate and unforced erudition. Because of this, it is a distinct honour that of 84 English wines tasted on Jancis Robinson.com, only three scored higher than the 17/20 of our 2011 Sparkling. The article is on the purple pages of http://www.jancisrobinson.com/ which are subscription only (something well worth paying for if you're into your wine) but I hope they won't mind me posting it here. Almost everything about English (and Welsh) wine gives cause for cheer. Labelling is getting better and better, with only a few old-fashioned 'cottage industry' style brands remaining. Plenty of newcomers are …
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We've made it into print in the Western Daily Press - 
West vineyard has something to celebrateBy Western Daily Press  |  Posted: August 07, 2014 By JEFF WELLS Guy Smith and Laura Evans of the vineyard in Aller celebrating the first batch of Somerset's only sparkling wine PICTURE: SWNS  Comments (0) Somerset's first sparkling wine to be made from the same grape varieties as champagne was launched with a pop last week at a vineyard in Langport. Guy Smith and Laura Evans, of wine-makers Smith & Evans, based at Higher Plot farm in Aller, celebrated the success of their unique venture at an official launch party at Great Bow Wharf. The 2010 Vintage was made from grape varieties harvested four years ago and is the first sparkling wine ever made in Somerset using the same techniques as champagne. The sparkling wine will now be on sale at outlets across the county including Williams Supermarket in Somerton and Evans The Butcher in Langport. Mr Smith, who has been in the wine …