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All Angels Vineyard with Mark Darley
First, I want to say a little on something that has been in the press recently and is allegedly “controversial” – the award of a special protected name status for Sussex produced wine. The idea behind this is that Sussex Producers will market their wine under the Sussex brand in the hope / expectation that it will be recognised as maybe superior to wine produced elsewhere. The press has suggested this is causing a rift among English producers though I think that is just the press trying to create a story out of very little. For my part I say “Well done Sussex” if that’s what they want and “good luck”. But I also wonder if it is a little premature for our fledgling industry to be making any such decisions and possibly mis-directed. The terroir in Sussex varies as it does in every region (our vineyards also share some of the Sussex characteristics) and the practices that will regulate the production of the wine are not unique (again, we only use grapes grown in our vineyards in producing All Angels (not from anywhere in our region, unlike Sussex) and we mature our sparkling wine on lees far longer than the 12 month minimum required for Sussex Sparkling). I tend to agree with an industry elder Bob Lindo who said it is far better to look at the individual vineyard and its practices. After all Bordeaux has protected name status but there is a big difference between Petrus / Le Pin and the average Village Bordeaux.
I’m afraid it is pretty much time to say Good-bye to our Sparkling Rosé 2016 as we have less than 200 bottles left. I’ve been immensely proud of this wine: a pure Rondo sparkling wine is pretty unusual / unique(?) but its popularity has soared and we have given an insight into what can be achieved with this versatile but little planted grape variety. Rest assured, we will be doing more pure Rondo wines going forward but we always have some Rondo in our Sparkling Rosés and you can get a reduced (54%) hit in All Angels Sparkling Rosé 2017. The 2017 really is a great foodie drink – I had a bottle last night with BBQ and I think it evaporated in the heat as there was none left in the bottle when I looked for another glass.
As one wine departs, another arrives (well, in about a month). The unlabelled bottle on the left is All Angels Classic Cuvée 2015 and this is a stunner. Once again long aged on lees – over six years yet again – 12% ABV and a dosage of 6 g/L, so it is Brut but a little less dry than the 2014 Classic Cuvée Long Aged on Lees. We’re working on new front, back and neck labels and we will reveal all once we’re ready.
There’s a lot going on in the vineyards right now – unfortunately not just a case of sitting back and watching them grow with a glass of fizz in the hand (as some of my ex-City colleagues seem to think). We are now at the flowering stage for many of the varieties and this is a critical time to protect them against mildew (which last year devastated many other vineyards). So far we are in good shape, touch wood, and are well on top of our protection plan. With the vines growing inches by the day we’ve spent a lot of time raising the wires and tucking in the vines to prevent them flopping over and breaking either in the wind or under their own weight and we will be calling on some of you kind volunteers for help at the weekends or during the week over the next couple of months: given labour shortages generally you are key to the health of the vineyards, so thank you. We’ve kinda got the weeds under control so you won’t be put to work with a hoe this year!
We’ve been on the road a fair bit this last month, starting with a great time at Highclere Show and thank you to all who came along to say hello. It was suggested at one point that this was just a social occasion for me as so many of my friends came along to chat. We were blessed with good weather, great entertainment and plenty of new friends to spread the word.
Now if Highclere Show was busy, The London Wine Fair at Olympia was off the charts – I managed an apple for lunch over two days. Being in the Wine GB Pavilion was ideal as it gave us the opportunity not just to meet with members of the on and off-trade but also with other English wine producers. It was great to get the word about All Angels spread more widely: there was enormous interest in what we are doing and the wines and that has led to a lot of new opportunities domestically and overseas already.
We’ll be at Cobbs Farm just outside Hungerford on 25 & 26 June as one of the 12 wine producers from the Thames & Chilterns area exhibiting and pouring tasters so why not come along and say hi. Entrance is £5-00 or £15-00 for six tasters as well
On Saturday 30th July we’ll be at Highclere Castle again as one of the Battle Proms partners. If you’ve not been before you really should check it out, From Napoleonic Cavalry Displays, The Red Devils, Gun salutes, Spitfire Air Display and, of course, a full 2 1/2 hr musical performance which includes the only place in the world you can hear the Battle Symphony performed as Beethoven intended, with 193 cannon. So come along with your picnic and we’ll be there to provide you with your chilled All Angels. Keep an eye on our social media as we will be offering a few pairs of tickets for free.
A bientot, mes Braves!
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NEW NEWS AND OLD NEWS
Starting with the matter most urgently requiring of your attention, for immediate action … before the general public gets access to the same opportunity. We are releasing All Angels Sparkling Rosé 2017! Incredibly we’ve now arrived at the third vintage of our hugely popular rosé fizz – and it’s yours to get exclusively for the next week before it goes on general release.
n design terms while the front of the bottle may look pretty much the same as the 2016 Sparkling Rosé (it’s identical apart from the year), the back label tells a different story.
Our 2016 Sparkling Rosé was pure Rondo and has received great acclaim from critics and reviewers as a true “foodie fizz”, a “lovely aperitif but also a very good gastronomic wine” – pairing so well with bold food flavours that one restaurateur chose it over the Classic Cuvée 2014 both because of its pairing capabilities but also being superbly distinctive.
But as we know, siblings can be very different … and the new 2017 Sparkling Rosé is completely different in composition and style. To start with we have every variety of grape we grow in there: 54% Rondo, 28% Chardonnay, 7% Pinot Noir, 7% Pinot Gris AND 4% Pinot Meunier. What’s more, apart from the Rondo it’s all undergone malolactic fermentation to smooth out the acidity. The truth is that 2017 was a hideous frost year for most vineyards in England and the yields were tiny (our smallest to date) but the quality was really excellent. So we blended the small amount of Rondo we had with some of the 2017 Classic Cuvée to produce just 1500 bottles of Sparkling Rosé 2017.
With an ABV of 11.61% (rounded to 12% on the label) residual sugar of 6.6g/L and total acidity of 7.8g/L it’s a total gem, with something for everyone.
So how do we describe it? Here’s how: “Salmon pink in colour, with exuberant bubbles, smooth red berries, ripe peaches, and cherry blossom on the nose and palate. Balanced and lifted by a subtle refreshing acidity, its structure makes it wonderfully assured on its own, but also a treat in the company of canapés, cheese, a traditional English picnic, or even Eton mess.“
You could say we’d say this anyway, but it is so different from the 2016 that we really would recommend trying the two side by side so you can see how the different growing years led to fascinatingly different styles and blending requirements. And at those low numbers for the 2017, we wanted to mention it here first.
In terms of our adventures, Easter Monday blessed us with warm Springtime weather and vibes, and we had a great day out at The OBH Point to Point at Lockinge with what they think was a record crowd. If you’ve not been to one of these events, we can’t recommend it highly enough. There is always something for everyone of all ages – not just an All Angels gazebo – and it was great to see some old friends and make some new ones too.
Around the same time we also popped up presenting All Angels Gift Boxes to the winners of the first “Time to Talk Charity Golf Day” at Donnington Grove. If you’re not familiar with that Charity, check it out: it was set up in 1986 to promote the mental health and emotional wellbeing of young people aged 11 -25 in West Berkshire.
The Golf Day was a great success, with a huge number of teams entered in what will now be an annual event. It was the fifth charity event we have supported this year and we are already committed to more.
Before then we’ve a busy month in June, starting with exhibiting at the London Wine Fair and ending with taking a stand at the English Wine and Food Fair at Cobbs Farm on 25 / 26 June. Lots of wine producers are represented at the latter, so make sure you get a ticket or two!
Finally, some news on changes. After many years at Hattingley, our wonderful winemaker Emma Rice has decided to take a career break and focus on new horizons. We are naturally very sad to see Emma leave as she has always been a great friend to All Angels as well as great fun to work with but we have no doubt that massive as her boots are to fill, Simon and the team at Hattingley will find a fitting replacement master winemaker and we look forward to working with them. Meantime, we offer Emma our sincere thanks and wish her our very best for her break and future endeavours which we will follow with great interest.
As Dylan said Times they are a changin’
That’s all folks!!
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