As the 2020 harvest in Great Britain comes to an end, Lyme Bay Winery report a batch of pinot noir with potential alcohol levels of 14.7% – a record for the UK.
The pinot noir grapes with these exceptional levels of ripeness come from the Crouch Valley in Essex, which is proving to be an incredible area for English wine. The Devon-based winery has been working for years with vineyard consultant Duncan McNeill and growers across the region to develop a long term partnership.
James Lambert, managing director, LBW Drinks commented: “We are jubilant about this incredible news. For grapes to achieve this level of ripeness in the UK is unheard of. It makes us even more excited about the Pinot Noir that we can create from this year’s harvest.
“We have been working for years with Duncan McNeill and the vineyards in Crouch Valley in order to achieve this and be able to make the very best red wines.” He continued. “For us it’s all about a partnership that benefits both sides. We have been very lucky this year but not every year will be like this. That’s why we work with the growers on a long term basis, and it is paying off.”
“The natural ripeness and physiological development of these pinot noir grapes means that we can really go to town on the extraction of flavours and colour to make truly singular wines.” He added.
The winery has been open 24 hours during this year’s harvest with teams working 12 hour shifts to ensure the grapes come directly from the field to be processed straight away, even if that’s in the middle of the night.
Duncan McNeill, said: “Before we started the harvest this year, we had an inkling that we were going to get some very ripe fruit. The dry summer, followed by a bout of rain and then a late burst of warm weather was all very hopeful. But then we had four inches of rain. We held our nerve and didn’t panic pick, the work we did over the summer paid dividends and meant we could wait, and now the grapes have reached peak ripeness. Letting the grapes bathe in a bit of autumn has given them a certain nobility.
“Crouch Valley is an astounding area and we have a great partnership with Lyme Bay Winery which is enabling us to reach our full potential. James (Lambert) encouraged me a few years ago to aim for the best and that’s what we are achieving together. This ripeness signals the crossing of a threshold, and I believe that Lyme Bay are going to make world-class still wines from these grapes.”
The first Pinot Noir will likely be released at the end of 2021. The winery is creating two tiers, to include a more premium wine and a limited release in 2022.