A bit of a sparkle at Oatley
Thursday, 10 December 2020
A bit of fun for Christmas! An Oatley PET NAT!
Naturally cloudy, fully dry sparkling wine under crown cap.
This wine is destined to become our Classic Method Sparkling Old Vine Kernling, next year when it has had longer on the lees.
But when we tasted it to see how it was getting on in November, we thought it was so delicious we have rushed out a few bottles just as it is, as a pétillant naturel, or Pet Nat.
Or how about our presentation gift box, with two Silver Medal winners and a bottle of the PetNat?
In many ways 2020 has been kind to us. We have, fingers crossed, stayed well. Wonderful support from regular customers and many new local ones. We have always aimed to sell mostly direct, and online sales have burgeoned to make up for fewer opportunities for you guys to come to the vineyard.
We did open in a limited way for visitors after lockdown. Mid-July to September, very cautiously, COVID-secure accreditated. Only one party at a time, and a new “do-it-yourself tasting” option that was a hit with families and friends looking for a safe space to meet up. You could buy online a pre-chilled selection box of our dry whites, borrow corkscrew and glasses and decamp to the vineyard with self-guide leaflets. We’re offering these as gift vouchers for next year, as well as our usual vouchers for our guided private tastings. Give an experience! Check out our visit vouchers>>
And though all that meant fewer visitors (and a first for us, an online booking system), people were in holiday mood and took lots of Oatley home with them.
Regular readers will remember that two thirds of our Madeleine got wiped out by a frost on May 12th. It turned out to be a VERY early-ripening year and we picked the top, unfrosted block on 12 Sep. Earliest ever. In 3 our or the last 4 years we’ve moved our record forward. But these early seasons are not ideal for this thin-skinned grape and unusually voracious wasps ate about 40% this year. We did get a crop from the frosted and stripped block, about half normal. Surprisingly, only two weeks later. Enough cooler by the time it ripened that the wasps had mostly gone. There’s enough Madeleine Angevine wine to fill our two new “Fraicheur” barriques but not enough left for a “Jane’s” 2020, so it’ll go into the Leonora’s to give it a hint of a brighter note.
The Kernling vines escaped all the drama and we harvested a medium-yield crop in great condition just slightly early on 18th October, with a big group of volunteers.
Ned and Paula came up from Hampshire with the twins to help us through the year when COVID regs allowed and daughter Liz, who lives locally lent a hand and we were lucky to have a keen local volunteer, who likes to stay anonymously behind the scenes, who trimmed, tucked and hand de-leafed all the grapes most beautifully. The vineyard has never looked so tidy, and all the grapes were completely exposed to the sun in their last weeks which should help the flavours.
There weren’t many competitions this year, but we were really chuffed to with 2Silvermedalsin the IEWA (Independent English Wine Awards) in September, for our newly-released Fraicheur Barrel Matured 2018/19, and for our Jane’s 2018. The Jane’s will run out soon but we have a very nice 2019 to follow it. Though with no 2020 we shall be a tad short of Janes in the second half of next year. Plenty of Leonora’s 2018 maturing in the winestore though.
Ned ran the harvest days - two small ones for the Madeleine and a big one for the Kernling pictured below - and Iain and I took a back seat working on the lower-key-than-usual refreshments. The twins, now approaching 2, “helped” too. Harvest volunteers are allowed. A commercial vineyard counts as a workplace, the rows are, conveniently, just over 2m apart. Though we couldn’t have our usual harvest table, our pickers did get a relaxed, socially distanced pub garden-style lunch in front of the farmhouse, and we all enjoyed the outdoor socialising.
The big news for us is that Ned and Paula are going to be taking over the vineyard from me and Iain, founders of Oatley Vineyard, after our 30-years spent happily among the pioneers of English wine in Somerset. They’ll be moving here with the twins from Hampshire to convert a barn to live in, and plant more vines. Pinot Noir are planned for next spring and the top nature area is currently being cleared and ploughed. We’re carrying on for now too in the background , trying as ever, to coax the existing 34-year-old vines into carrying on producing their award-winning dry whites.