Gosh! Christmas already

Thursday, 16 December 2021

A very happy Christmas and all the best for theNewYear from all of us  atOatley. Apologies to all who usually get cards from us. Iain has just had a scary week in hospital after what turned out to be a small stroke. Heis making a very rapid and what looks like being  a complete recovery, but we never got around to getting Christmas cards organised.

Looking back at Vintage 2021

A tricky, roller-coaster, late-ripening season. A moderate yield all round, good quality Madeleine Angevine, deliberately picked a bit green, with no problems of wasps or spring frost, so there WILL be a 2021 “Jane’s”. We managed to keep everything free of the widespread mildew until the grapes were safely ripening, though we did get a patch on the leaves, late-on, in the bottom Kernling block that decided us against letting the grapes hang late. So the acidity’s a bit high and the sugar levels not brilliant - we are planning a malo-lactic in the spring to round it out, and will take it from there.

Ned and Paula’s new Pinot Noir planting went in in May, established well in the rainy early summer and had its shiny steel trellis installed in November. They are now planning to plant more vines again next year in the old pony paddock at the bottom of the vineyard field. You can read about their developments @oatley2020 on Instagram and Facebook. 

Current Wines

Aaargh! All sold out of our best-selling “Jane’s 19”! The Madeleine harvest of 2020, after the frost and the wasps, was very small and went into our two barrels, so there is no Jane’s ’20. We’ll have the 2021 Jane’s next April, all being well. That 2020 barrel matured is shaping well for release next year too.

The Leonora’s 2020 (from £13) is now our flagship. Drinking very well, won 2 Silvers in September.  IEWA said, "Good fruit driven nose, a nice combination of citrus and orangey fruit, with an undercurrent of balancing herbs. Precise and aromatic nose, with fruit, freshness, and a linear palate. Orange and kernel finish with good length."

We  were delighted that all four of our current releases were featured in Tim Atkin MW’s definitive “Special Report, England.” published in October.  Leonora’s 2020 Scored 86 points. 

We have re-released the Leonora’s 2018 (from £13), now a bit softer since its emergency release last January when, although it was really too young, it was the only Leonora’s we had. It is still improving in the bottle and should continue to over several years. 85 points in the Atkin report with, “Rather interesting, quite austere with lime cordial and sage. Slender and quite Riesling-like, with plenty of tangy, limey acidity.”

The Limited Edition “Fraîcheur” Barrel Matured (from £17), Silver in last year’s IEWA, is also drinking well. Awarded 85 points in the Atkin report, “Madeleine Angevine. Cucumber, elderflower and lime, drying and pithy with a little light, floral honey.”

And the OATLEY FIZZ! (from £22). Last Christmas’s un-disgorged “Pet Nat” has now grown up into our first proper fizz. Traditional bottle fermentation, zero dosage (meaning no added sugar), 100% Kernling, Brut Nature. 86 points in the Atkin report, “Quite funky with dried peach and pear skin, autumnal english fruit and a dry, oxidative style with some herbal sage notes. Naturalistic.”

Family News

As regular readers will know, Ned, Paula and the now nearly-three-year-old twins Albert and Edie moved here from Hampshire early this year, to start taking over the vineyard, plant Pinot and oversee their barn conversion here at Oatley. They rented, short-term, an idyllic cottage at nearby regenerative agriculture hub, Gothelney Hall, just over the hill. we’ve all loved getting to know more about @gothelneyfarmer and @fieldbakery and the exciting developments and wonderful pork and bakery products there. Now the rental is over and they moved temporarily into the farmhouse here with us at the start of December as they wait for their building work to start, and are gradually taking over the heavy lifting from Iain and me.

Our Copenhagen lot have now become the Oslo lot. In February, granddaughter Liv, now 4, was joined by baby Felix.  Our daughter Liz is still keeping her horse Flipflop here, though working in the midlands, so we see her at weekends and our old vines enjoy horse manure treats.  We were all together at the Madeleine Angevine harvest, when Liv had a great time with her Aunt Liz with a first ride on Flipflop. Liv and the twins started to get to know each other and they all all except Felix did a bit of grape picking - and eating.  We’re hoping to be all together again over Christmas.

Jack and Benji, the vineyard collies, have had to learn to tolerate Ned and Paula’s enchanting chocolate sprocker pup, Nell. Now my morning round of the vineyard is enhanced by a little dog pack.

What next 

Most of the excitiement is with Ned and Paula’s developments - the Pinot’s second year, the barn conversion building work and more new vines - but we’ve a few plans for 2022 too. We have been really chuffed with how much people seem to enjoy our “Do it Yourself” tasting visits, they come down from the field looking so smily and relaxed. These are where you can book a slot with either 3 or 4 bottles of our current wines, which will be ready-chilled for your visit. And then you borrow some glassses and a corkscrew, decamp to one of  our vineyard tables, which in the summer also have deckchairs to relax in, and taste the wines at leisure, maybe with a picnic. Works well for group sizes from couples, who usually recork the bottles and take them homme, to big groups, where it makes a very good-value-outing, who ay buy expras.  So next year we are majoring on those. They’ll be available Thursdays to Mondays from May through August. We are still going to be offering private tastings, but onn a reduced scale. These are where Iain, I, Ned or Paula, or maybe combination, take you through a tasting and a guided vine walk. These will be only at weekends at 11.30 am and always for private groups. By then our new”Jane’s" will be available so we’ll have a bit more choice of styles than now. We’ll carry on with the online booking - seems easier all round.Depending on the Covid situation, we may be able to relax the “only one party at a time" rule weve had for the last two summers.

Meanwhile pruning has already started, taking advantage of