Divico is something truly special.
The first Divico I tasted was from Pattingham vineyard in Staffordshire & I was simply thrilled. A spicy, black cherry wonderland. An exciting wine.
From that moment it was clear to me this grape had a huge future in the UK. A candle of hope was lit that all Divico vines that call the UK home will be capable of making insanely good reds. Reds that will totally shatter people’s expectations of what a British red wine tastes like.
The word Divico comes from a Celtic king and the leader of a Helvetian tribe in present-day Switzerland. He fought Romans in Gaul but eventually led his people back to the Jura Mountains near Lac Leman. Ever wonder why Switzerland’s country code is CH? CH stands for Confœderatio Helvetica.
The Divico grape is a red wine grape variety that is a relatively recent addition to the world of wine, having been developed in Switzerland in 1997. It is a cross between two other grape varieties, Gamaret (Mother & child of Gamay) and Bronner (Father & mildew resistant). Bronner gives Divico the genes required to resist powdery & downy mildew fungi.
So what can you expect from a glass of Divico? Prepare your senses for an explosion of dark fruit aromas – black cherry, blackberry, and blueberry – with hints of vanilla, chocolate, and spice. And when you take a sip, get ready for a full-bodied, rich wine with flavours of dark fruit, chocolate, and spice, and well-integrated tannins.
This grape will start the Cabernet party in British red wine.
British Cabernet? Yes really – British Cabernet. Those intense summer heatwaves will create a new standard in the ripeness we can achieve in the UK, all to the benefit of Cabernet Cortis. We are destined to produce a big cab as good as anything from some far away land. A crazy dream but arguably a climatic certainty.
Let’s discuss the most famous Cabernet, Cabernet Sauvignon – a truly legendary grape vine that has been planted far and wide across the Earth, making plenty of our favourite big reds for decades. All this cab sav has come at a cost though as it requires consistent spraying when grown commercially. Plenty of vine breeding has looked at how to improve the immunity of Cabernet Sauvignon so that we can enjoy Cabernet with minimal intervention.
Meet Cabernet Sauvignon’s child – Cabernet Cortis.
The Cabernet Cortis grape is a red wine grape variety that was created in Germany in 1982. It is a hybrid grape, created by crossing Cabernet Sauvignon (Mother) with a quick ripening, disease-resistant grape variety called Solaris (Father – plenty of Solaris planted in the UK). The Cabernet Cortis grape was developed with the aim of producing a grape that was well-suited to cooler climates and resistant to common grape diseases.
Here are some of the wine characteristics that are typically associated with the Cabernet Cortis grape:
Cabernet Cortis wines are known for their rich, complex aromas, with notes of dark fruit such as blackcurrant and black cherry. It inherits baking spices, graphite and cedar ‘Cabernet’ aspects from its mother. On the palate, Cabernet Cortis wines are typically very herby & have an intense tannic Cabernet style, rich in extract and phenolics. At their best full-bodied and rich, with flavours of dark fruit & spice.
Cabernet Cortis grapes are well-suited to cooler climates, and are particularly popular in regions with shorter growing seasons.
Pinot Noir, the noblest and most historic of vines.
This grape is right at the top of the wine world. When you have a really good pinot noir you realise why. It’s just legendary stuff. For me that moment came not drinking some Burgundy but a bottle from Kent, Balfour’s 2020 Gatehouse. One of my absolute all time favourite wines.
Dark, concentrated and powerful. Black cherry, damson and dried spice.
Made from a mixture of burgundy clones and given a prolonged ageing process in new oak with no fining or filtering. A total of 4 different oak barrels over 16 months. Surprising, extraordinary and ready to drink in two years.
Drinking that triumph of a wine confirms that the age of British Pinot Noir is now truly upon us. It has the potential to be as good as anything grown around the world.
Romans and earlier civilisations were farming this variety and it has played a huge role in the vine family tree. Many believe it makes the greatest red wines on Earth and they fetch crazy prices to back that up. It just oozes elegance.
Pinot Noir is a cool-climate grape variety that thrives in regions with moderate temperatures, such as Burgundy, Oregon, and parts of California. The grape is sensitive to weather conditions and requires careful attention to ensure that it ripens fully without losing acidity or developing undesirable flavours.
Pinot Noir wines are known for their delicate and complex aromas, which often include notes of red and black fruit (such as cherry, raspberry, and blackberry), floral and herbal notes (such as rose petals or thyme), and earthy or savoury notes (such as mushroom or forest floor).
On the palate, Pinot Noir wines are typically light to medium-bodied, with flavours that are complex. The fruit flavours are often accompanied by notes of spice, earth, and minerality, and the wine’s acidity and tannins contribute to its structure and balance.
Food pairing: Pinot Noir is a versatile wine that pairs well with a wide range of foods, including roasted meats, poultry, game, mushrooms, and earthy or savoury dishes. It also works well with cheese, particularly soft or semi-soft cheeses such as Brie or Camembert.
Overall, Pinot Noir is a grape variety that produces some of the most elegant and complex red wines in the world. Its delicate aromas and nuanced flavours make it a favourite among wine enthusiasts, while its versatility and food-friendliness make it a popular choice for pairing with a wide range of dishes.
Artaban is a red wine grape variety developed to resist fungal diseases, making it cost-effective to grow as it requires significantly fewer treatments. It was developed by the French National Research Institute for Agriculture and the Environment (INRAE) in collaboration with the Julius Kühn Institute in Germany using the Marker-Assisted Selection (MAS) technique.
MAS technique has enabled Artaban to carry two downy mildew resistance genes and two powdery mildew resistance genes, originating from the species Vitis rotundifolia and Vitis rupestris. Artaban is technically neither a crossing nor a hybrid. It really is the first step into a new world of vine engineering.
The polygenic resistance of Artaban allows huge reduction in operating costs studies suggest a 96% reduction in the use of fungal treatments.
Artaban contains genes from Aubun, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Tinta, Merlot, and Muscadina. In 2021, Artaban became affiliated with the Vitis vinifera L. botanical taxon by the European Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO), making it eligible for producing PDO wines and on track to achieving French AOC recognition. Artaban was entered into the French Varieties Register in 2018. The grape was first planted commercially in 2016 and the first vintage arrived in 2018.
Artaban is basically as new as it gets in the world of winemaking.
The wine produced from Artaban is light, silky, and coloured with fruity aromas, making it suitable for early consumption. These characteristics make Artaban a very interesting prospect to make rose with.
Rondo is a red wine grape variety that was developed in the Czech Republic in 1964. It is a hybrid grape, created by crossing Zarya Severa and St. Laurent. Zarya Severa is a Vitis amurensis asiatic hybrid that imparts high downy mildew and winter frost resistance.
Rondo grape vines are therefore well-suited to cooler climates, and have a long tenure in the UK, where they have made a lot of wine, not all of it received with the highest regard. Some commentators say Rondo is a tough old brute to work into a fine wine, but this underdog grape that was responsible for a lot of scorn over the years is now a darling for UK growers and winemakers alike. Rondo is having a renaissance moment.
Here are some of the wine characteristics that are typically associated with Rondo wines in the UK:
- Aromas: Rondo wines are known for their aromas of blackcurrant, plum, dark flowers and vanilla.
- Flavours: On the palate, Rondo wines are typically medium to full-bodied with medium to low acidity and medium tannins. Dark & red fruits tend to dominate the taste with a subtle hint of sweet vanilla.
- Structure: Rondo wines can have a very dark ruby red almost black colour. well-structured, with supple tannins and balanced acidity.
- Climate suitability: Rondo grape vines are well-suited to cooler climates as they ripen rapidly. Has some resistance to fungal diseases making them popular among organic and biodynamic winemakers in the UK.
Some spectacular Rondos are being made across the UK and its high yielding quick to ripen grape production make it a real workhorse in the vineyard. This grape can provide a solid base for red and rose wines.
Chardonnay, like Pinot Noir, is a legendary, ancient grape variety that is grown in many wine regions around the world. Despite its wide planting, it has a rather tainted reputation due to a very specific, yet widespread, viewpoint – that Chardonnay wines are very oaky. Now, there are plenty of oaky chardonnays but they are just the tip of the iceberg of what is a very, very large body of chardonnay wines, made in every style imaginable.
Human’s de facto celebratory drink of choice for decades has been Champagne – which is in large part made from Chardonnay. So while some are so quick to dismiss the grape – they probably have been consuming it happily without even realising it. Wine is a very difficult subject to make generalisations about. It is an inherently complex subject and is influenced by a plethora of factors. So give chardonnay a shot and be prepared to be pleasantly surprised.
In recent times, Chardonnay has been planted in huge amounts in the UK. The Champagne trio of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir & Pinot Meunier has taken hold as the direction of travel for classically minded vineyards.
Here are some key characteristics of Chardonnay wines produced in the UK:
- Aromas and flavours: Chardonnay wines produced in the UK are typically crisp, clean, and elegant, with aromas and flavours of green apple, lemon, pear, and sometimes tropical fruits such as pineapple and mango. Some Chardonnays from the UK may also have subtle notes of vanilla or oak, depending on the winemaking techniques used.
- Climate: Chardonnay is a relatively hardy grape variety that can thrive in cooler climates, making it well-suited to the UK climate. It is still a slow to ripen grape variety though, and a good amount of fruit thinning is necessary to ensure ripeness every year.
- Styles: UK-produced Chardonnay wines are generally medium-bodied with good acidity, which makes them versatile and food-friendly. Most UK winemakers are looking to produce a traditional method sparkling wine from Chardonnay grapes as this has become the most highly regarded style of wine we can produce in the UK.
Chardonnay has proven its suitability for the UK and its got the trophy cabinet to prove it. At international competition it is this grape and Pinot Noir that have taken British wine to the very pinnacle of the sparkling category. With the continued growth and development of the UK wine industry, it is likely that we will see even more high-quality Chardonnay wines taking the world by storm.
Our Chardonnay grapes are the ’95’ clone which has a medium yield and medium grape size. In Burgundy smaller berries & yields are preferred for making red wines. In Champagne, larger berries & yields are preferred for sparkling wines. Our grapes could quite reasonably be taken in either direction.
Johanniter – a historic white hybrid variety developed in 1968. Named after a German wine Doctor Johannes Zimmermann who was a pioneer in breeding vines resistant to disease.
Johanniter’s mother is classical Vitis vinifera Riesling and its father is a complex hybrid (Seyve-Villar x Pinot Gris x Gutedel). The hybrid element “Seyve-Villar” improves the immunity of Riesling. While Johanniter is not the most disease resistant of hybrids, it is considered a very high quality hybrid variety.
Since 1968, it has spread across Northern Europe and there are now 6 producers of it in the UK. It has a degree of frost resistance which can help it through those late spring frosts, very useful in our climate.
Johanniter presents an interesting conundrum, what wine style best suits this grape? Johanniter’s mother Riesling has a long history at the top of the wine world in every style from bone dry to sweet dessert wines. In Cornwall, Bosue Vineyard have taken their Johanniter and made a traditional method sparkling – which was a delight to drink at 10.5% ABV.
Are you going to make dry table wines or take it late and make dessert wines? Are you going to sparkle it like Bosue and play in that realm? There is so much to discover with this grape and that is what makes it so exciting.
Here are some key characteristics of Johanniter wines:
- Aromas and flavours: Johanniter wines are typically described as having fresh, fruity aromas, with notes of citrus, green apple, and sometimes tropical fruits such as pineapple and passionfruit. Neutral to Riesling like.
- On the palate: Strong, fruity with ripe acidity. Crisp and refreshing, with a good balance of acidity and fruitiness. Piquant notes of melon, pear, mandarine. Somewhere between a Pinot gris and Riesling.
- Climate suitability: Johanniter is known for being a hardy grape variety that can thrive in cooler climates, making it particularly well-suited to Northern Europe, including the UK. It is also resistant to many common grape diseases, which makes it a popular choice for organic and biodynamic winemakers.
- Styles: Johanniter is versatile and can produce a range of still, sparkling, and dessert wines. Many Johanniter wines are made in a dry, crisp style to emulate those racy Rieslings, but there are also some sweeter and more complex wines produced from this grape variety.
So the best direction we take our Johanniter isn’t clear at all.
Calardis Musqué is a white grape variety that is a cross between Bacchus & Seyval. A historic hybrid created in Germany in 1964. Calardis Musqué wines are fundamentally, highly aromatic. They are reminiscent of Gewürztraminer and if you have ever had the pleasure of drinking Gewürztraminer you will understand that is a very good thing. Gewürztraminer has this intense exotic bouquet of lychees which is going to be quite overpowering for some consumers just looking for a crisp wine to guzzle but for the person looking for a special journey these aromas are just that.
There is a German vine breeding research institute, called the Geilweilerhof, where very intelligent people analyse the world of wine genetics, trying to find the best varieties for a changing world. In all of the varieties that they study – Calardis Musqué stands at the very top of their list when it comes to making white wines. Consistently high quality wines are achieved year after year. These wines stand out in their blind tastings and very often win them.
I personally know that there is a lot of clambering to get a hold of these vines as there have been years where we have wanted to add to our plantings but have not been able to as the supply has simply been exhausted by Europe’s keen growers wanted to get in on this dream.
Here are some key characteristics of Calardis Musqué wines:
- Aromas: Very exotic. Mango, passion fruit and gooseberry bouquet.
- Palate: these wines have an electric ripe acidity and a secondary nutmeg muscat tone.
- Climate suitability: Calardis Musqué is a hardy grape variety that can thrive in a range of different climates, although it is particularly well-suited to cooler climates. It has some disease-resistance, which makes it a popular choice for organic and biodynamic winemakers.
- Styles: Calardis Musqué is typically used to produce dry, aromatic white wines, although some winemakers may choose to produce off-dry or sweet wines as well. It is also sometimes used in blends with other grape varieties to add a floral and aromatic element to the wine.
Overall, Calardis Musqué is an interesting and aromatic grape variety that is capable of producing extremely high-quality white wines. While it may not be as widely known as some other grape varieties, it is becoming increasingly popular among winemakers who are looking to produce distinctive and aromatic wines.
Bacchus, the greek god of wine. This white grape variety was created in Germany in the 1930s. It is a cross between (Silvaner x Riesling, Mother) and (Müller-Thurgau, Father). Bacchus is hugely popular and occupies 8% of UK vineyards.
Here are some key characteristics of Bacchus wines:
- Aromas and flavours: Bacchus wines are known for their aromatic qualities, with notes of elderflower, citrus, and stone fruit being common. On the palate, they are typically dry and crisp, with a good balance of acidity and fruitiness. Some examples may have a slightly herbaceous or grassy note, which adds to their complexity.
- Climate suitability: Bacchus is a hardy grape variety that can thrive in cooler climates, which makes it well-suited to the UK. It is also resistant to several common grape diseases, which makes it a popular choice for organic and biodynamic winemakers.
- Styles: Bacchus is typically used to produce dry, aromatic white wines, although some winemakers may choose to produce off-dry or sweet wines as well. It is also sometimes used in blends with other grape varieties to add a fresh and aromatic element to the wine.
Overall Bacchus is a modern British classic white and seen as our best alternative to Sauvignon Blanc for this country. A wine that is often at its bet slightly off dry thus winemakers will often control the fermentation to leave more residual sugar.