It’s been a whirlwind year here at Bolney, with unprecedented demand for our wines and a seemingly endless queue of visitors to the vineyard.
I’ve needed to base myself at the vineyard a lot more than used to be the case and am on the road much less. On the one hand this is great for decreasing fuel usage and environmental impact but, on other hand, it means I need to rely on other means to ensure that I’m staying in touch with you. I am therefore committing to a monthly Bolney Trade Newsletter to ensure that you are kept up to date with the various goings-on from the estate, new vintages, releases, awards, and so on. This will be especially important as we head into 2022, marking our 50th anniversary, when we will be sharing some exceptionally exciting news.
I hope these newsletters prove informative and interesting, and I welcome your questions and suggestions!
As you’re no doubt aware, it’s been a challenging year for wine producers across Europe. At Bolney we were blessed with a trio of relatively straightforward vintages (2018, 2019, & 2020) leading into it, but 2021 involved a good deal more graft in the vineyard. Initially, an unseasonably warm start brought forward budburst, which was then followed by a month of brutal frosts. Our vineyard team did an extraordinary job, working through the nights to keep the frost at bay. Whilst the impact on yield wasn’t too bad, the cold weather did put the vines to sleep for a few weeks which meant we were in for a long growing season. Some of the many challenges thereafter included labour shortages, logistical headaches, and a risk of botrytis leading into the harvest. In total, the picking, grape processing, and vinifications will have lasted a total of 8 weeks once concluded, probably our longest ever. The team have done an amazing job and everyone is exhausted!
For those that haven’t met her, we have a new member of the team – Cara Lee Dely – overseeing all things Production and Operations. This is Cara’s first vintage with us, having spent much of her winemaking career so far in Franschhoek, South Africa, before moving to the UK in 2019. Cara is buzzing with excitement for this year’s still Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and tells me the sparkling base wines are looking especially good too. Despite the challenges above, and some unusual twists and turns with fermentations, all of her teams’ efforts are so far looking worthwhile, so I’m excited to share the results with you next year.
New Vintage Release: LYCHGATE RED 2019
We have a just released the new 2019 vintage of our ‘core’ red wine – Lychgate Red. This has always been our most robust red, with a dark fruit and black pepper flavour profile, and firm tannins. However, in 2019 we blended in a proportion of Pinot Noir with the Rondo, which in my opinion adds a greater sense of roundness to the wine, as well as softening the tannins. For me it’s the most refined Lychgate Red we’ve ever released. In fact, a sommelier friend who is a longstanding Bolney customer told me that, in his opinion, this is the best red wine Bolney has ever made. Quite the statement!
People often ask me about the name. A ‘lychgate’ is a roofed gateway to a churchyard. Bolney village’s church, a protected Grade I Listed building, has a particularly magnificent 20th century lychgate which is made of local materials including Sussex Marble, Sussex oak, Sussex millstones and Horsham stone. It is pictured on the Bolney signs around the village, and it is this that the wine is named after.
We produce three Lychgate wines: Lychgate Rosé (100% PN), Lychgate Bacchus (currently 100% Bacchus, though in some years up to 10% Reichensteiner), and Lychgate Red. Together, these wines make up our ‘core’ range of still wines, characterised by their fresh, linear flavour profile and no use of oak. They are our entry-level price-point.
Thanks for reading. I’ll be in touch again next month but, for now, good luck with the stock-builds and early Christmas sales. I hope it’s a prosperous Christmas period for everyone.