Posts Tagged ‘Pinot Noir’

There are many lovely things about Sussex: fairy-tale castles; stunning cricket grounds; sheer, beautiful cliffs and coastlines.  But in my view, one the very loveliest, is the knowledge that wherever you are – East or West of this once-enormous county – you are never far away from a vineyard.

Bolney started as Bookers Vineyard back in 1972

Bolney started as Bookers Vineyard back in 1972

Sadly (due to the length of the journeys required, and with small children inevitably in tow) I have not yet been able to get to as many in the West as our native East, but last weekend, combined with a family camping trip in the new-to-us campervan, we managed to squeeze in a corker.

To tell the truth, I am not a brave camper.  And the Bongo – whilst being her very own dream come true – has been Ruth’s canny attempt to coax me ever-so-gently out of a stubborn resistance.  The resolve is definitely weakening, and it was not even by connivance that, left in charge of the campsite choice, I chose one a spittoon’s distance from Bolney Estate.  It was all just a happy coincidence!

So let me say first of all that for any reader needing to camp somewhere near Henfield, Blacklands Campsite – http://www.blacklandsfarm.co.uk – is a very welcoming place with good hot showers, a playground and a well-stocked shop!

And to add to its general acceptability to anyone with a passing interest in wine, it is a ten minute drive from Bolney Estate – one of the best-marketed wine brands in Sussex.  Their email newsletter is always jaunty and warm, and worth signing up to via http://www.bolneywineestate.com.

But wow.  I had not really been expecting the Estate itself to be so beautiful.  Diversified certainly – besides the viticultural buildings, machinery and paraphernalia there is a café, a function room and (would you believe it) a Post Office – but also incredibly manicured: the photos don’t really do justice to the way that the vines and vegetable gardens are kept.

The vines were manicured to a level that I have not seen before in Sussex

The vines were manicured to a level that I have not seen before in Sussex

We were lucky to visit on a wonderfully sunny July day, but I am sure the beauty of the site – ‘on a hill which was part of the Butting Hill One Hundred, listed in the Doomsday Book’ – would command attention whatever the weather.

When we arrived there was a group of wedding-dressed revellers enjoying what looked like a buffet lunch and a tasting.  There were folk sitting outside, relaxed under umbrellas, tasting.  And there was a busy but small staff team trying to do their level best with the assortment of paying guests and off-the-street browsers that arrived in the vineyard shop.

Amidst all this I managed to score a taste of their Pinot Gris, their Bacchus (2014), their Cuvée Rosé (sparkling, 100% Pinot Noir, 2010) and a slurp of their Bolney Bubbly at the end.  Sadly, I didn’t write notes, but suffice to say that I remember the Pinot Gris being much more mineral on the palate and less aromatic on the nose than I had expected.  Conversely, the Bacchus was much more stone-fruit and succulent – a beautiful off-dry apéritif for a summer’s day.  (I bought two bottles).

Nicely stocked shop, but the layout doesn't help staff to mingle with customers

Nicely stocked shop, but the layout doesn’t help staff to mingle with customers

The still whites were in my view significantly better than the sparkling wine that I tasted.  Not that the sparkling was unpleasant, at all, but it just didn’t have the same depth of quality.  The rosé was startlingly pale – not sure if it was bled or pressed – and had a biscuity Pinot nose, but the palate was much thinner by comparison.  And the Bolney Bubbly?  Very drinkable, but without any punchy, memorable features.

The Estate website says that they consider themselves ‘specialist red wine producers’ and I saw a still Pinot Noir and I think a sparkling red as well, neither of which I tried.

But when you go, perhaps you will, and you’ll let me know what you think?


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Best gardening equipment that I have seen for a while!

Best gardening equipment that I have seen for a while!

Well the elections are done and dusted, and there is nothing left for Liberal Democrats to do but to turn to drink.

Luckily, here in Sussex, we have some of the finest premium sparkling wines in the world on our doorstep, and what better way to hammer a public sector salary than to buy a bottle or two?!

Happily, I am still finding wines that I have not yet tried and there are numerous vineyards that I have not yet visited across our rarefied county.  I am hoping very much that the summer months will allow for a trip or two.

And of course there is always a random, choice find, to brighten the day!

I had been on the road to Hellingly the other morning, taking a little scallywag of mine to the Herstmonceux Observatory, and we decided to stop at Lime Cross Nursery.

Well if you haven’t stopped at Lime Cross Nursery before, let me tell you, you are missing a lovely place to stop.  Take a look: http://www.limecross.co.uk

The plants and garden paraphernalia seem to be of very good order, and there is a little coffee shop which does quite acceptable and reasonable coffee (drink in, or take away), and – would you believe it – there is a table of produce in the middle of the shop which included a wine rack.

[This is my kind of garden accoutrement, I thought.]

There, standing before me, was a clutch of bottles of the local brew – Henners sparkling wine – of Herstmonceux.  And here they are: http://www.hennersvineyard.co.uk

I had no idea that there was a vineyard in Herstmonceux.

And not only did their 2010 vintage have an extremely classy livery, but the wine was delicious too.

I saved my scrappily written notes – ‘blizzard of bubbles; light gold; floral nose; almonds; cut grass; orangey palate; not too gaseous’.

Perhaps I am wrong, but my recollection was that it was high percentage Pinot Noir.

An experience certainly to savour.  Particularly as there was not much change from three tenners.

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Ian Jarman is still going great guns up at the Ivy House Lane industrial estate.

If you’ve not yet been up to Cooden Cellars’ Hastings hub, then I suggest you get yourself up there.

Not only does he have a wide range of wine – geographically and budget-wise – but he has time to talk to you about what kind of wine you like, and that’s something you don’t get at the supermarket.

Given that I generally try to give value for money tips in this column, I was keen to know what he feels is his best offer of the moment. And I have to say that he came up with a corker.

Pinot Noir Viile Timisului 2011, a Romanian wine made by the wine house Căluşari, is currently retailing at £6.50 but if you take your copy of The Resident with you, then Ian will give you a 10% discount.

To be honest, Pinot Noir isn’t my favourite grape, so I had a bit of heart-sink when he recommended it, but boy was I wrong.

This pale ruby wine is unexpectedly complex on the palate.

Tobacco, licquorice, nectarines, peaches. All these flavours melding with aromas of sour cherry and caramel. Quite extraordinary. And the finish just goes on and on…

We spoiled ourselves and drank it with a takeaway from the Jali restaurant at Carlisle Parade. The match was pretty darn perfect.

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So we did indeed have the Trinity 2009 from Chapel Down last night – 12% vol, and priced at £11.99; a blend of Rondo, Pinot Noir and Pinot Noir Precoce grapes.

I deliberately tried not to re-read the info that I had about it so that I could compare my own tasting notes to those of Chapel Down – and the winemaker there, Andrew Parley.

Throughout this blog I will be posting tasting notes more or less in the format that I learned from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust.  Take a look at their ‘Systematic Approach to Tasting Wine’ here.

The only real difference will be the record of the wine on the nose.  When I went on to do training at the École du Vin de Bordeaux, one of our tutors, Sabine Sylvestrini, taught us that the French tend to look for a first, and then a second nose.   The first is as the wine sits still in the glass; the second is after it’s had a bit of a swirl.  I actually agree that there can be considerable differences between the first and second nose on a wine, so I’m incorporating that into my tasting note style.

Here’s a picture of Sabine – just for the hell of it.  We were doing an exercise creating our own Left and Right Bank Bordeaux blends.  But I digress…  Here we go with my tasting note –

Clear, bright, medium+ ruby colour; had a little bit of a spritz

Clean, medium intensity; youthful; first aromas – red cherries, red plums, liquorice, cinnamon; second nose, strawberries and cream, blueberry jam

Dry, medium+ acidity; medium‾ tannins; medium alcohol, medium+ body; medium flavour intensity – flavours of fresh red (and stone) fruit, particularly raspberries and unripe nectarines, a little bit of leather there; medium length

Very good; high-priced (ie £10-15); drink now – won’t keep for ages.

Chapel Down’s own note
‘The nose has plums, brambles and hints of cherry and liquorice.  This wine has a soft round palate, smooth tannins, plenty of fruit and a touch of spiciness on the finish’.

Not so very different then in our respective takes.  I thought this was a soft, velvety wine in the mouth.  I am not a big red Burgundy fan myself but this wine is at a level of quality that gives the Burgundians a good run for their money.  We had it with pan-fried, thyme-crusted pork chops and home made roasted chips; a lemon-dressed salad, and a mustard mayo on the side.

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