I returned to Denbies at the weekend, joining family members on a tour around the vineyard itself.
Unlike the previous tasting tour a few months ago, which was based inside the winery, this one involved a ‘train’ ride around the grounds.
You may have read that a few weeks ago, a late frost affected growth in most UK vineyards. Denbies was not immune to this either, with over 70% of the crop being affected.
Unusual weather like this helps to explain the variation in vintage years in different regions. Although not great for business, it does help one understand how the process works first hand and some of the difficulties in wine production.
Upon entering the estate, the sparse vines highlighted the reported issues. However, whilst on the tour it could be seen that some of the higher slopes were not as affected, with many more leaves on show. This slope, which recieves more sun, is planted with established Chardonnay vines used in the production of Denbies Greenfields sparkling wine.
Still, there was no frost at the weekend, with the sun being out when not hidden by cloud. We overtook many hikers and trail runners, whilst sipping bubble from the comfort of our carriage.
This part of the vineyard is hand picked due to its steepness, but modern methods are used in other fields.
It is the chalky top soil make-up which has contributed to English sparkling wines recent challenge to Champagne, on a good year anyway.