Nigel's thoughts....

AUTUMN ARRIVES....

Is this a news posting based on guilt? Well, a little bit as I’m sitting here having gone on the website and having realised with some horror, that the last entry was last October.

Right now it is early March… the first snow of autumn caked rather than dusted the mountains last Sunday, and the by now regular weekly rain has cleared for a few days. I know for many of you weekly rain might be a welcome dry average, but for us, used to about 30mm a month, this has been the wettest year we can remember. Rain and grapes is not a great combination as a rule, but it has been heartening to see that the grapes have behaved with great composure in a moister environment. Very little viniferous misbehaviour is taking place and with about a week left to vintage, all seems pretty smart.

It will be the earliest harvest yet. Not as a result of a warm summer, but because of an early spring in which we had near perfect weather up until just before Christmas. The cool and steady weather since, with its regular showers, has been allowing the grapes to ripen at an even pace and we have some satisfaction that we’ve seemingly called it quite well for the third vintage in a row. That might be hubris, so watch out for fast retractions if it all turns to custard.

2010 is being racked right now and the smugness on Blair’s face when he comes up from the cellar bodes well for the wines. The unusual truth is that we are so hands off in the wine-making that we actually don’t get to taste any of the finished wines until they are assembled in a bottling tank and beyond our help (or hindrance). That, of course, is the idea: let us interfere and we’ll probably stuff it up, so just make it and act of faith and place and hopefully it will be OK.

Two goats went to meet Mr Smith and Mr Wesson this week in readiness for pickers lunches in a few days time. A silver lining in a very black cloud has been the arrival of Gilles and Nikki: the next generation of a family we know well in Christchurch, Gilles was chef at the Grand Chancellor, which has become a skyscraper rivalling the leaning tower of Pisa in terms of being vertically challenged. Before that he has had spells in London with Tom Aikens and Gordon Ramsay group (at the Boxwood café), so should find working under me a complete doddle!

So, that’s all for now… 

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