The end of the 2022 harvest brings optimism for the English wine market as we head into the New Year. We sat down with Knightor Head Winemaker, David Brocklehurst to look at the grape varieties picked this year and the 2021 vintages that have recently been bottled ahead of the festive season.
Warmer summer months bringing an abundance of dry days and a milder autumn, without waking up to the early frost have contributed to the perfect year for vineyards across the UK. With English wine continuing its rapid ascent in stature, this year has assisted with the quality more than ever before. David explains that “Flowering began around two weeks earlier than we usually expect, with good weather during flowering resulting in a good fruit set. The summer then progressed things even earlier. There was only a slight disease pressure with powdery mildew with some varieties, but thankfully, we were able to contain this.”
Climate change and the challenges it brings are well documented, however, it is currently presenting a very different landscape for the English wine industry in more ways than one. Euro News* have put together a research article looking into this further and they report that “English winemakers are now able to produce a wide variety of still and sparkling wines from grape varieties including Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Riesling that before were not possible - and this production could increase exponentially in the next few decades.”
The changing climate has not always been so kind with warmer, wetter winters when the vines are dormant and cold wet springs shortening the growing season. However, this year warmer summer months brought an abundance of dry days and another milder autumn. Whilst low rainfall in East and South East England limited production, in Cornwall there was both reasonable yield and high quality at both the Portscatho and Seaton vineyards on the South Coast of the county.
The harvest began in the first week of September for the Knightor winemakers, with the team picking a high quality Pinot Noir Précoce grape from the Portsctaho vineyard. After a month of picking, the final variety of Seyval Blanc was collected in the first week of October from the Seaton vineyard. The overall quality is something that David and his team are very happy about, with a great anticipation that next year’s offerings will be some of the best yet. “It is outstanding across the board and yields up on the previous two years, with some good sparklings predicted, very good still whites and rosés, plus the return of a few reds being produced which is exciting,” says David.
There is plenty to look forward to for the year ahead at Knightor and David provides a little insight into what to look out for. “Some wines to look out for in the coming year will be a Portscatho Pinot Noir précoce red, which will need a year in the barrel to soften. The Portscatho Bacchus has gone into the barrel but won’t need as long. We have a really promising still unoaked Chardonnay, and a one off small batch of Muscat 'orange wine' [White Muscat fermented on skins]. In general everything from this year will be more full bodied than typical, probably most likened to some of the 2020 collection, a similar harvest to what we have seen this year.”
Conclusion of the 2022 season brings with it some of the 2021 vintage collection from last year’s harvest; David highlights what has been bottled in recent weeks. “The recent releases include the Bacchus 2021, a perfect reflection of the cool 2021 year - very light, delicate and medium rather than the usual dry Bacchus. The Madeleine Angevine 2021 is a light, youthful and gently aromatic offering with a spritz. Finally, our Pinot Noir Rosé 2021, a dry, super pale and delicate wine, but very characterful having spent 10 months in a mix of American and French oak”.
Keep an eye out across the Knightor newsletter, blog and social media channels for more information on more of the 2021 collection to be released soon - including the much anticipated return of the sparkling red wine!