A WINTER LANDSCAPE

A WINTER LANDSCAPE

Deep snow last week left Breaky Bottom briefly cut off from the rest of the world, yet had we chosen we could have walked along the track and out of our valley. That would always have been so, the option to walk, but in the past the feeling of isolation would have been greater; no car, no phone, no electricity, no radio or television, no deep-freeze…. Yet on reflection, we only miss these because they have become part of daily life. When I first came to Breaky Bottom there was no electricity or telephone. It was wonderful!

We have had the pleasure of our friend Axel Hesslenberg photographing at Breaky Bottom, monitoring life in the vineyard over the year, his lens focusing on particular images he is drawn to - from fine traditional landscapes to the most delicate study of the tendrils of a vine.

THE WINES, WAITROSE AND 2010 AWARDS

The past twelve months have seen a considerable increase in wine sales. Waitrose branches in Lewes, Brighton, Eastbourne, Burgess Hill, Horsham, Worthing, Tonbridge and Paddock Wood all stock Breaky Bottom and Harvey & Son of Lewes, famed for the excellence of their beer, continue to sell as much Breaky Bottom as ever. This year Waitrose encouraged me to enter the Sparkling 2006 into competition and the wine did exceptionally well, gaining a Silver Medal in the Decanter World Wine Awards and a Silver Medal and Best-in-Class in the International Wine & Spirit Competition. This wine and the 2005, which won a Gold Medal in the UK competition, are both available for Christmas orders, along with the ever-popular Kir Royal.

Over 30 years ago I planted a trial plot of all the vines grown along the length of the Loire, including the renowned Champagne varieties. None ripened sufficiently to be considered for serious winemaking. More recently-established vineyards have profited by plant-breeders selecting from early ripening clones of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. I am not able to judge whether it is this cloning or the (apparently) warmer summers of the last few years which have allowed the young Chardonnay and Pinots at Breaky Bottom to ripen to such perfection. But they do, and the 2007 will be released next summer, the first of the classic Champagne varieties. I have blended these with the Seyval Blanc, as I had originally planned. They seem to support the elegant sweet-natured Seyval by adding extra weight and authority to the wine. In Champagne the assemblage (blending) of the various cuvée is the principal skill which the assembleur brings with him to a great Champagne house – at the peak of his profession.

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It was our pleasure last week to welcome to Breaky Bottom Jean-Manuel Jacquinot, a much respected man of Champagne. He was full of enthusiasm for our 2007, including in his tasting notes "…good mousse, nose clean and delicate, citrus as in fresh lime, a wine with good balance which will age well."