Notes from the vineyard: settling


Brad Greatrix and Cherie Spriggs

As much of the country is dusted with snow, something else is settling in the tanks at Nyetimber. In his final post for 2017, winemaker Brad Greatrix follows the festive season in the winery

Most of our tanks have now finished their fermentation processes and are starting a slow, natural clarification by settling. We’ll be tasting all the wines over the next couple of weeks for an early first impression, but the real work on that will begin in earnest in January, when the wines are better clarified and the true characters of the wines are revealed.

At this stage, with the wines having just completed the malolactic fermentation, Cherie and I taste them and consider lees stirring for the individual base wines. Bâtonnage benefits wines that need a bit more mid-palate weight, and so suits certain parcels of Chardonnay. Pinots get assessed in this way too, but, as they naturally have more body and weight, tend not to receive bâtonnage. I’ve mentioned before that, when assessing wines at this stage, we pay most attention to texture and balance, because the flavours of young wine are transient. This year, certain parcels of Pinot Noir slide across the palate with a silkiness we’ve not seen in quite a few years. I am eagerly awaiting January when blending can get underway!

In the meantime, as we cross over to December, one can’t help but think of the festive season. It’s an exciting time, and there are many occasions for which sparkling wine makes the perfect accompaniment. Behind the scenes, the flurry of parties keeps us very busy in the winery preparing Christmas orders. The whir of the labelling line is as sure a sign as frost on the windscreen that the holidays are just around the corner.

One of the things I’m most excited about this year is all the festive events taking place, including our presence at the Royal Exchange, bringing festive sparkle to the City of London this Christmas. If you’re in the area, do join us for a drink at the Threadneedle Bar, Gallery or Grand Café. All three venues will be offering delicious food pairings with our wines, providing a great opportunity to discover perfect seasonal dishes to accompany a glass of Nyetimber.

As one can imagine, the meals of Christmas Day at my home always feature sparkling wines. This year, I will be pouring a few special vintages of Blanc de Blancs, including our 2007. If you would like to do the same, I can’t help but notice that Berry Bros. & Rudd has some of this special vintage available in magnum. It’s a sentimental favourite of mine, and at recent tastings this has been showing beautifully as it approaches its 10th anniversary in bottle.

Whatever you’re drinking, I wish you all very happy holidays.