08/09/2019 // Paul Edwards, Vineyard Owner
“Wine is the only artwork you can drink”
So goes the famous saying by Luis Fernando Olaverri. And whilst we wouldn’t liken ourselves to a budding Picasso or Van Gogh, it is fair to say that there is a whole heap of expertise, talent and dedication that goes into each and every sip of our wines!
It’s not happenchance that it took us nearly a decade to be ready to release our first wines.
Time, patience and a dedication to perfection meant taking the long road, investing in quality equipment, studying viticulture techniques, landscaping the best environment for our vines and embracing the traditional method of wine making, associated with the production of the finest quality sparkling wines in the world.
It was important to us to design our vineyard to offer both the optimal conditions for our vines to thrive and the best protection from the elements. Wind can cause major damage to our yield – not just in damaging young, tender shoots in spring, but also causing leaf and vine damage later in the season that can impact the quality of the grapes.
To address this, we’ve planted over 3,000 trees to date, with plans to plant a further 500 to replenish natural hedgerows and shelter the vines from wind.
Perhaps one of the biggest threats to a good harvest are late Spring frosts. You can always count on sleepless nights for our team when the temperatures start to drop at this time of the year! Just one hour of frost on the vines can be disastrous for the grapes, freezing the newly burst buds, damaging and even stopping growth completely.
That’s why specialist equipment like our ‘Tow & Blow’ is so invaluable. Anyone who has been on one of our tours will be familiar with the huge piece of machinery that captures heat rising from the ground and then blows it back over the vineyard to protect our precious buds that become grapes.
Saffron Grange sparkling wines are produced using what is called ‘the traditional method’ – more popularly known as the ‘Champagne method’ or ‘méthode Champenoise’.
After the grapes have been hand-picked and gently pressed, the grape juice undergoes not one but two fermentation, the second of which takes place in the bottle. For the secondary fermentation, we add yeast, nutrients and sugar (tirage) to the base wine and this naturally produces carbon dioxide and results in a sparkling wine.
Our wines are then stored on the lees (the remaining sediment in the bottle) for two years to give more depth to the taste and mature the wine. The lees are then removed by gradually turning the bottles so that the bottle neck is eventually downward facing and with this gentle movement the lees transfers to the neck of the bottle, a practice which is known as riddling.
The bottle necks are then frozen so that all the remaining sediment in the bottle is captured and turned into an ice plug which is forced out of the bottle by the pressure from the carbon dioxide.
The final stage of the process is called ‘dosage’ where the ultimate style of the sparkling wine is chosen. This involves the addition of specific amounts of sugar, ranging from zero dosage (none), brut (6-12g/l), extra dry (12g-18g/l) or up to the sweetest style, ‘doux’ – a huge 50+g/l!
Our brand-new release sparkling wines are brut or extra dry which we believe provide the best balance of both sweetness and acidity whilst bringing out the best characteristics of the fruit.
The whole process from planting and nurturing the vines to bottling and ageing, takes place slowly, with expertise and dedication every step of the way. As we have always said, patience is key when it comes to producing the finest quality English Sparkling Wines.
The end result, your delicious bottle of Saffron Grange English Sparkling Wine! Not sampled any yet? Order here today or book on one of our tours, for Autumn. For those in the CB postcode area we are also offering free delivery of our wines to your door throughout September!