Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Albourne Estate bottles excess grapes for new frizzante

Published:  29 April, 2019

A Sussex estate has chosen to bottle its leftover grapes as an Italian-style fizz after last year’s super harvest meant producers were left with grapes still hanging on the vine.

The UK’s variable weather means producers are often concerned with having not enough grapes, rather than too many.

But after a record-breaking 2018, Albourne Estate had enough over-matter to make 3,500 bottles of a limited edition Bacchus Frizzante, which it is now releasing to the market.

This is in contrast to 2017, when vineyard owner Alison Nightingale and her team used bougie candles to fight off the frost that decimated many yields around Europe.

Single estate producers like Albourne are particularly at the mercy of the English weather, Nightingale said: “We were really on edge at the end of summer last year with the amount of grapes we had on the vine. If we’d had a wet autumn, the grapes would have really struggled to ripen.”

However by the end of October 2018, there was such an excess of grapes that the estate literally had more than they knew what to do with.

“I don't think there was a spare inch of tank space in the whole of England. We literally couldn’t sell the wine. We were leaving grapes on the vine, which is practically unheard of,” Nightingale said.

The estate has just passed the dreaded April 27 – a date which has been particularly unlucky for the estate in terms of frost damage. 

Nightingale spoke at the weekend at a tasting and launch of a new bee-keeping activity at the estate. 

A drive on tourism has also seen them team up with Cuckfield's Ockenden Manor for a Sussex-themed vineyard visit and tasting. 

The Bacchus Frizzante follows the estate’s first vermouth, 40, which Nightingale created with Sicilian wine consultant Salvatore Leone last year.

The charmat-method frizzante has less pressure than its estate wines - around two bars - which enables it to be bottled under screwcap.

Because of this, it is classed as a still wine for tax purposes, which means less revenue goes to the treasury.

“We are always trying to push the frontier and to introduce different things. With the frizzante we are showing that we are adventurous and that we change our plans to respond to the opportunities that the climate presents to take English wine into new areas,” Nightingale said.