Spring always seems to breathe positivity after the long winter months. The weather gets warmer, the day’s get longer and the barbecue edges closer to making its first appearance of the year. Meanwhile, here at London Cru, all of last year’s hard work from vineyard to winery begins to fall into place. All six of our 2014 wines (Chardonnay, Bacchus, Syrah, Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon & Barbera) are developing nicely, with some key milestones passed in the last fortnight.

All, bar a couple, of our Cabernet barrels have now fully completed Malolactic fermentation. For those that haven’t attended one of our ‘Meet the Cru’ tours, or are otherwise not in the know, this is the process through which the acidic composition of the wine changes. Malolactic fermentation (MLF) sees the tart malic acid (think of that first bite into a Granny Smith apple) convert into the softer, more rounded lactic acid (think milk and yoghurt) through the action of the bacterium, oenococcus oeni.

This is a process that all of our red wines go through, as the combination of malic acid and tannins would otherwise leave the wine astringent and not particularly palatable. If this process isn’t completed during winemaking then it could start spontaneously in bottle, causing a haze, some fizziness and off aromas. White wine; by contrast, doesn’t always have to undergo this transformation. For the 2013 Chardonnay, Gavin chose to complete full Malo’, leading to its subtly textured character.

However, for the 2014 Chardonnay he’s chosen to go half Malo’ in order to deliver a fresher style. Aromatic white varietals, such as our Bacchus, seldom complete MLF.

Testing VA in the lab
Testing VA in the lab

After each barrel completed malolactic fermentation we added a small amount of Sulphur Dioxide. This preserves and protects the wine against three threats: Oxygen, bacteria and spoilage yeasts like Brettanomyces. Minimising oxidation allows the wine’s fruit character to be conserved. The anti-fungal/antibacterial properties of SO2 have another benefit in slowing Brettanomyces or Acetobacter from flourishing, thus preventing the build-up of undesirable aromas or acetic acid (Vinegar): a volatile acid.

Another test carried out in the past few weeks was to check the Volatile acidity (VA) of each of the wines. The results from the spectrometer thankfully made for satisfying reading.

The most significant steps made recently were with the Bacchus, our first wine from English grapes. We have established the final blend; heat stabilised and racked the wine off its lees. Over the weeks leading up to bottling in early April, cold stabilisation will take place and allow the removal of any residual tartrate crystals.

Having ‘benchmarked’ our Bacchus against other British producers we are happy that our blend will hold its own alongside its peers.

Expect our Bacchus to exhibit delicate varietal and quintessentially English characteristics with a touch of textural complexity as a result of partial oak aging.

Hopefully by the middle of May, London Cru’s first Bacchus will be ready for drinking, just in time for summer!

We can hardly contain our excitement with how our 2014 wines are shaping up. After tasting samples from the barrel last week, we believe that a step forward has been taken since our impressive inaugural vintage and that we have some truly special wines on the way for you.

Don’t take our word for it, come and try for yourself at the winery.