Late yesterday, we had to make the very tough decision to turn down seven tonnes of grapes due to come from Bordeaux and the Loire Valley in the next week. We were really looking forward to working with Merlot from Bordeaux and Sauvignon Blanc from the Loire, but after a lot of conversation with the vineyard owners this week, we agreed to drop the grapes from our program this year. Both regions have had a damp few weeks and we had to make a decision between harvesting early at less than optimum ripeness, or holding on and taking grapes with high levels of botrytis and mildew.
From the moment we began discussing this project, we decided that making a top quality wine in London was the goal, and to do this we require top quality, healthy grapes. Normally a strict hand sorting in the vineyard ensures only perfect grapes make it into the refrigerated lorry, but when disease affects more than a small part of the total this becomes difficult. Sadly what has been a tough vintage across much of France has forced our hand on this issue and we had to make a decision between making a lower volume of wine, or making lower quality wine.
By a stroke of luck, we have managed replace some of the lost grapes with four tonnes of Barbera from Northern Italy, sourced by top Italian producer Luca Roagna. Luca is a friend of one of the team and recently approached us with an interest in the project. After visiting the winery in August, and lengthy discussions about what we were looking for, he managed to source an additional parcel of high quality red grapes for us. This is something we hadn’t really planned on until our second vintage, but with the loss of grapes elsewhere and Luca’s support we’ve been able to move our plans forward.
We will now be working with four tonnes of Barbera from Piemonte, which will take the place of the Merlot we were expecting. The grapes are coming from a grower that Luca has known and worked with for many years. Having seen how well the supply chain works with ripe fruit in top condition we’re really looking forward to having a lorry full of high quality Barbera pitch up in SW6, and turning that into another exciting addition to our range. The Barbera is expected to arrive at London Cru between the 14th and the 16th of October, and will join the French Chardonnay, Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon we already have in tank and barrel.
Unfortunately what has happened is just one of the perils involved in wine-making – we have no control over the weather - but difficult decisions often have to be made in the name of quality. Hopefully when you taste the wines you’ll agree that we did the right thing.