We’re already well into the year, but still waiting for bud burst, and I can’t stop thinking about the infamous English weather. Last year was a stern reminder how all sorts of crops, including vines, can be dramatically impacted by a poor summer.
To me, having spent my last 10+ harvests in California, it looks like we can expect a late bud burst. Apparently, this does not seem to be unusual for England. Which is good, bud burst appears to be about two weeks late so far!
Provided we get a nice summer, and the vines aren’t the only things that could use some sun and heat, a nice harvest could await.
You might ask: what if we don’t? Or, the dreaded question, what if there’s a repeat of last year’s season?
Well, either we’ll get very light volumes, or worse, nothing at all. If that happens, what options do English wine producers have?
This leads me to a vital question: what are English producers’ positions on reserve wines?
The incorporation of reserve wines into a producer’s portfolio strengthens their business plan: it helps both to maintain constant quality, for those who produce a non-vintage, and constant volumes, to cover for low yield harvests over the years.
While I am a strong proponent of reserve wines, one potential drawback is that it requires valuable storage space; winemakers need to be prepared to “sacrifice” tanks for this purpose. It’s part of our long-term winemaking vision at Rathfinny.
In essence, the debate is whether or not it’s more sensible to produce vintage wines every year, or to produce non-vintage by blending different wines.
Vintage (millésime) Champagne is produced only in growing years considered to be of great quality and, during those non-optimal years, wines are a blend of different vintages.
I can’t help but wonder, as the English wine industry continues to grow is this a trend that will dictate winemaking expectations of English producers?
Jonathan Médard – Winemaker at Rathfinny
PS: I had to share this picture of the grass roof on the winery….