Tell me a bit about the new vintage! How excited are you?
I’m excited - very excited actually. I am always very critical as a winemaker, but I am really happy and think the wines are very good. Some of them are the best wines we have ever done, like the Chardonnay and the Barbera for example.
And it’s fun to finally get them into the market. I have been sitting on them for a year; tasting them, knowing how good they are, and waiting for the launch party. It is nice to now show everyone else how good they are.
And having seen some reviews already, it must be nice to see that they can hold up to great wines from some top regions.
That is always something we strived to do from the beginning. We work with some great vineyard sites and wine growers in some less famous regions. We manage to get amazing fruit for a fraction of the price that you would pay in Burgundy, for example, but that is of the same quality - sometimes even better. It’s a key aim for us to identify those exceptional sites and of course the growers that go with them. We work with those who put in that extra work to make sure that we can then make some great wine.
Ok, now probably the toughest question for any winemaker. Who is your favourite child? Is there, perhaps, a wine this year that you would consider your best work yet?
(laughs) well I think the Chardonnay (Charlotte St) is a good one, no doubt. I really like the Grenache (Gresham St) as well which is lovely. The vineyard in Calatayud is just so great with vines that are 90 years old. It is almost surreal when you are up there. The vineyards are so isolated and strange that it is so much fun to work there. I mean they are all good (laughs).
During our last tasting event people also enjoyed our older, more mature vintages. The Syrah for example was extremely popular.
Yes! I certainly made some of the wines to age, and of course for us it is really nice to be able to prove to people that wines mature in the right way. I tried the 2014 Cabernet Sauvignon earlier today, and it is amazing. And that’s what I hope people will see, that we are a good wine producer with longevity.
London Cru is right on track - the reviews have been good, and people are genuinely excited. Surely that is a good motivation. What motivates you as a winemaker?
As a winemaker it is always nice to hear that people enjoy your work. You always have to be motivated, after all your name is tied up in the wine as well. It’s all about trying to get the best out of the grapes. And of course you are always self-critical. You always want to do better. That is motivation.
It must be a big advantage to be able to go and pick so many different vineyards and surely exciting, but I can imagine it being quite challenging as well because you have to get to know all those different grapes, terroirs etc.
I find it really interesting and it is one of the things that attracted me to the process in the first place. You are able to work in different regions in the same vintage. If you work, let’s say, in Burgundy, then you work with Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. As good as they are, that is all you can do. I am making Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, but also Cabernet Sauvignon, Barbera, Albariño and so on. And all from different areas too. Of course you have different terroirs within regions and even vineyards, but it is wildly different travelling around Europe and discovering new things.
Looking back, what would you say has been the biggest change or development since the first vintage in 2013?
Better vineyards. With every year we get to know the sites better, and sometimes we find even better vineyards to work with. Like with our Chardonnay. Our growers now are really great which helps too. Another thing is probably the labels. We have changed them every year so far, but these ones are perfect – even though I didn’t design them (laughs). They are interesting and sophisticated now, telling the story of London Cru.
Looking forward, what can we expect from London Cru?
2016? Maybe the best Syrah ever! It has only just gone to barrel, but it already looks really promising. The grapes are from a great vineyard, and I can feel it is going to be something special.
Final question - is there anything new planned?
Yes, we will have our first Pinot Noir ever, and I am surprised at how well it has turned out. And we are making more English wine as well, so in 2016 vintage we will have a Bacchus again.