‘Growing Aspirations….

The gang made a different visit to the winemaker this week because the first release from 2013’s crop will be out in a matter of weeks. Our debut still wine is going to be a rose made from Charles Palmer’s Pinot Noir grapes, and as it’s now ready to be bottled we thought we should give it a taste!

As far as tasting notes go it has loads of soft fruit notes on the nose, with strawberry and plum on the palate. It is crisp and dry, a great summery number for the scorcher we have been forecast for this year. But perfecting this one is all down to mother nature, anyone who doesn’t want to read the technical stuff, look away now….. The key things for us will be to harvest the grapes at 70 Oechsle or above, and to keep the Titratable Acidity at around 13.5 max. We managed to get these levels in 2009, 2011, and 2012 vintages, so it is perfectly achievable.

We did discuss with our winemaker, Will Davenport, the possibilities of blending the rose with our Chardonnay and producing a sparkling rose, having discovered that the still one can be so good. Watch this space, but having such limited stock for now we thought we should wait another year – with only 220 bottles produced it is obviously very exclusive!

The tasting didn’t stop at rose, oh no, next we started on the 2013 sparkling!

Will has already carried out the primary fermentation of both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as two separate wine bases – this is the first year that we have picked sufficient volume of both grape varieties to be able to do this! It will allow us to produce three different sparkling wines of 2013 vintage; a Blanc de Noirs (white bubbly made form the black Pinot Noir grapes); Blanc de Blancs (bubbly made solely from the Chardonnay grapes); and our classic blend of the two.

Back to the tasting, and the Chardonnay displayed typical still Chardonnay flavours and characteristics but the Pinot Noir was quite different from what you would expect a still wine of this variety to be, it did however present some interesting fruit flavours and a nice subtlety. Obviously we were tasting these base wines before their secondary fermentation and it’s not like drinking wine from a bottle as the process is only half complete. Really it is just to check that there’s no fault in the wine, and that we are happy with the flavours they are creating for the blend.

With our 2013 classic bubbly we are going to stick with the Pinot Noir predominant blend that has worked so well in previous years and become our hallmark. We think it’s definitely a trend to keep running with and it seems to be continuously gaining in popularity throughout other sparkling wine and Champagne producing regions at home and abroad, for its softer and more mellow results. This will be the 5th vintage sparkling wine that Charles Palmer Vineyards has produced, but a first with respect to variety, and there will be a lot more of it this time round which leads me on to…..

Spring 2014, and we have had a successful year so far for attaining new stockists and appearing at shows and competitions with more still to come, only this year we can present more than just our first vintage; our 2010 sparkling is already billed to join the award winning 2009 in upcoming judgments. The inclusion of a still wine into our repertoire also means that we will not be adding to the market just once a year, which is going to be better for getting the name of Charles Palmer out there.

In February we were delighted to connect with Sam Gould, the creator of Mimi Macarons. Her macarons, I must tell you all, are spectacular! The Valentine’s season saw the birth of Sam’s new ‘Champagne’ macaron, made with a white chocolate ganache and Charles Palmer 2009 Brut. We were both very eager to marry up local producers of premium artisan food and drink products and the result is wonderful thanks to Sam’s passion and expertise.

The ongoing Twitter and Facebook campaigns are still working well with 260 followers, likers, and commentators.We’ll be looking at creating more competitions and chances to win bottles, vineyard tours, or tastings for small groups of people, so keep your eyes on our Social Media for updates on these, and get all your friends to join in too! We’re also going to be doing more events in the area, hosted by stockists (both merchants and restaurants). We already have private party tastings lined up for early summer but there will be plenty of opportunity to find us as we pop up here and there throughout Sussex and Kent. All this and still a Charles Palmer Rose label to design, oh, and the small matter of storing 8,100 bottles of bubbly after a whopping 2013!!