OATLEY WINES

from our Somerset Vineyard

 
 





Winemaking


Winemaker is Steve Brooksbank, at Bagborough, near Shepton Mallet.  We take our hand-harvested grapes to Steve for de-stemming, crushing and pressing, decide jointly on the winemaking. We aim for as  little intervention as possible, allowing the wines to express the vintage, the variety and the terroir. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks. Since 2010 we have matured 225 litres of one of the wines wine for a few weeks in our French oak barrique. 


We get our wines back the following spring in plain bottles that we capsule and label by hand.  Our labels are FSC certified “Tintoretto” paper. We use lighter weight, (400g) bottles to keep our wines’ carbon footprint down, and have then sealed with top-quality corks, because we’re romantic and like the traditional pop.


Quality Status


Our wines have all been submitted for and passed the official UK wine quality scheme, which involves independent analysis and professional tasting. Our 2013 wines meet the English Wine PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) standard. Our 2011’s and the Barrel Matured 2013 were low sulphur, not enough added sulphites for PDO, though they otherwise met the standard. They were English Regional Wine PGI (Protected Geographical Indication). 


English Wine PDO is the highest quality standard for English wines. English Regional Wine PGI is of similar technical standard but can include wine from hybrid vines and wines with no, or little, added sulphites. An official list of English PDO  and PGI wines is on the UK Vineyards Association website here>>


Vintage Notes for current releases


2013 had an unusually cold spring leading to late flowering. As the flowers opened, the summer turned hot and sunny, with a good, quick fruit-set. Ripening went well but everything was a week late. Autumn was cool-ish, leading to low sugars on later varieties, although they had good phenolic ripeness from the sun. Our early-ripening Madeleine Angevine did well, but an unusually ferocious wasp attack led us to pick earlier than optimally on 30th Sep (blogpost here>>) on a dry, sometimes sunny day. The Kernling was dark red, almost black in the vineyard’s warmest corners, but the sugars did not reach the variety’s usual 80+ Oe and we picked, quite late on 27 Oct, at only 70 Oe. The day was a sunny, blustery interval between storms that would become the hallmark of the 13/14 winter (blogpost here>>). Both varieties were in good, clean condition at harvest. We made Barrel Matured 2013 from 100% Madeleine in our oak barrique’s 3rd wine, keeping it in the barrel for a couple of weeks longer than earlier ones as the intensity of the light-toast oak flavour declines with each vintage.


2014 has been dubbed “The Vintage of Dreams”. A heavy crop and enough warmth and sun to ripen it well, with just enough rain to swell the grapes.  It was an easy growing year with little disease pressure and a fairly early harvest. The wine is promising well and the recently-released Jane’s 2014 was awarded a Silver Medal in the Summer 2015 UKVA competition, pre-release. You can taste the Leonora’s 2014 at the vineyard but we’re not releasing it yet. We have high hopes of it and want to wait till it’s properly ready.


We released our 2014 Barrel Matured in July 2016. It’s mainly Madeleine Angevine but with 15% Kernling, in the same proportions as in the popular Elizabeth’s 2012. A hand-crafted wine. Each bottle hand numbered.


2015 was another cold spring but unlike 2013, also a cool summer, saved by a warm, sunny September.  The Kernling sugars were respectable but it struggled to colour up and the acid remained stubbornly high. We tasted the wines in March 2016 before bottling, and whilst the Madeleine was good, the Kernling lacked intensity in the mid-palate. Winemaker Steve suggested we taste a blend of the two varietal wines in the proportion we had, 62% Madeleine, 38%. Once tasted, we all agreed the blend was greater than the sum of the parts, so our 2015 vintage is another “Elizabeth’s”.


It was a small vintage. On the Madeleine because we had re-worked the vines, cutting back aging gap-filling cordons to give the replacement babies room to grow, knowing that this investment in the future would reduce the crop by a third, then we had had quite a damaging spring frost (-2.8C) that lost us about half the buds in the bottom quadrant of the lower block. The Kernling just had a duvet year after producing a big crop in 2014. We made 2,680 bottles, less than half our 2014 vintage, but we are excited about the resulting wine, which gained a Silver in the UK national competition on its first outing.


Current releases and online shop >>


Awards >>



 

delicate white english  wines, ripened slowly on old vines growing deep

2013 Kernling grapes, unusually dark, 3 days before harvest.

We normally produce two dry white wines a year year from our two grape varieties on what are now old vines.  Each vintage is different but the varietal characteristics give us our two wines, Leonora's and Jane's.


“Leonora’s” wines are generally dry and elegant, can be drunk young but develop complex honey overtones over five years or longer. They are made from Kernling grapes, a first cross from Riesling that ripens to pink.


“Jane’s” wines, from golden Madeleine Angevine grapes are light and crisp with a flower-scented nose and citrus notes, sometimes with a hint of elderflower. Delightful as an aperitif,  for a party, in a summer garden or just for a refreshing glass at home. Best drunk young and fresh, within 2-3 years.


Every now and then we produce a blend of our two varietals, named “Elizabeth’s” after our daughter Liz.


We have one hand-coopered French oak barrique, light-toasted and fine-grained for subtlety, and matured a little of our wine in it in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014, giving a small quantity of barrel-matured wine.

Steve Brooksbank, checking the acid on the free run juice of our Kernling 2013