Brexit – Another day, another €. Where have we all gone wrong !

Brexit – It doesn’t have to be all bad news

So as I write this, in the month the UK leaves the European Union, negotiations are still on-going and it remains unclear what the exact impacts of Brexit might be on the wine industry. 

As a major importer, the UK market is one of the most important global wine markets.  The UK accounts for nearly 15% of the world’s wine imports. The drop in consumption assumed in the most severe Brexit scenario would have a ripple effect, depressing the value of the global wine trade by 3.5%. 

No wonder then wine producers and retailers alike are preparing for the worst and taking measures should a no-deal Brexit come to pass.  Producers across Europe are rushing to bottle early and as you would imagine UK retailers are being prudent and stockpiling.

The most noticeable impact of Brexit is the rising prices of bottles imported into the UK. The price of a bottle of wine has already risen by almost 30p since the Referendum in June 2016 and this is only set to continue.  This is bad news for British wine lovers.

Non-EU importers

Both the US and Chile have signed trade continuity deals with the UK to ensure there is no disruption to wine trade after March 29th. These countries have very similar deals with the EU currently so the status quo should stay the same no matter what

The UK is the fourth largest market for US wine exports, and around 9% of UK still wine sales in 2018 were Chilean bottles, so it was imperative that these trade relationships were maintained.

No-deal Brexit

Currently there are no tariffs on wines imported from the EU.  The UK is the second largest importer of French wines and spirits, behind the United States, having imported 1.3 billion Euros of alcohol from France in 2018.

A no-deal Brexit for the UK could disrupt EU wine imports through long border delays, import taxes, decreased British demand and increased competition from non-EU markets. 

Things will also become difficult as the paperless electronic system used at present will expire if we are not in Europe – without this system in place, businesses would be forced to rely on pen and paper until a new system is in place

Some EU suppliers are already vulnerable to a decline in trade, due to poor weather conditions, so to have barriers put up could pile on the pressure among some European growers.

In addition, every single bottle of wine destined for the UK from the EU ‘could’ be faced with paying to get a laboratory technical analysis of the wine to comply with new regulations. It effectively means all wine from the EU will be faced with the same restrictions that the EU currently places on all wine entering the EU from outside countries.

Another headache for EU producers is the risk the UK will negotiate more favourable trade agreements with other wine-producing nations, such as Australia, South Africa, Chile and Argentina, at the expense of European exporters. 

Ultimately EU wine businesses will face costs which UK consumers will be passed on to UK customers to pay.

Good news for English wine?

So is there is a silver lining in all this for UK winemakers?

The industry is small but growing, with more than 500 vineyards and about 130 wineries in England and Wales, many of which specialize in sparkling wine. 

UK supermarkets will only be able to absorb the higher costs of imported wine for so long. This will give locally produced wines an advantage, since retailers won’t be forced to hike prices because of the exchange rate or tariffs.

As a result, British wines will seem relatively less expensive, encouraging people to switch over. So little of the wine Brits drink comes from the UK because of small-scale production and a focus on sparkling wine make it a pricier alternative to imported bottles.  There is an opportunity here for the UK government to encourage this further by, as many are suggesting, cutting the cost of domestic duty for UK produced wine post-Brexit.

So whatever the outcome  – Brexit or no Brexit  – I for one will be continuing my journey of discovery around the UK.  And not because it may be relatively cheaper but because it is becoming so much better. 

Here are my top 3 tips for a post-Brexit toast.  Assuming we will still have something to celebrate!

2013 Hattingley Valley ,Blanc de Blancs – Pale golden colour with gentle green hues and delicate bubbles, this Blanc de Blancs displays beautifully the pure linear character of the Chardonnay – white stone fruit, citrus fruit and a delicious honeyed character on the nose; clean and mineral flavours with pastry and brioche notes on the palate. It has a well balanced and refreshing acidity that gives way to a creamy mouthfeel and long, complex finish.

2013 The Mount Vineyard, White pinot  – This unoaked white pinot is pale gold in colour and made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes. It has fruity flavours of grapefruit, melon and green apples with an aroma of spicy almonds, mouth-watering citrus acidity and a long finish.

2014 Camel Valley Brut  – Young and lively, with a floral, sweet-hay scent, drier palate with a creamy finish. This wine is excellent to drink young, or can be cellared to allow the structure and more mature characteristics to evolve

Grape Britain: Hattingley Valley – a warm ray of sunshine on a bleak wintery day…

In the last 10 years hectarage of planted vines in the UK has more than doubled making wine one of the fastest growing agricultural products in the UK. Visit any supermarket and you’ll discover many increasingly impressive bottles from some of the big Estates – Nyetimber, Chapel Down and Camel Valley in Cornwall to name a few.

Interest in English wine has surged along with the rise of craft beers and locally sourced produce. Customers are increasingly interested in tasting wines from lesser-known producers but who are these new winemakers?

Hence my quest – Grape Britain – to visit everyone of the 500+ English and Welsh Vineyards

Logo_HV ESW_no backgroundSomewhere between the M3 and the south coast sits a criss-cross of country lanes, roads so entwined you easily find yourself lost. It is here in the heart of Hampshire you will find Hattingley Valley and it sits perfectly in this idyll. It was quite a sight for a Londoner – the bare branched trees forming tunnels along the roads. It had me wondering if I was on my way to Westeros.

Simon Robinson, a former lawyer, established Hattingley Valley in 2008 with the help of Emma Rice, Founder of Custom Crush, a wine analysis laboratory.  Together they have grown the vineyard into a modern, eco-friendly winery over 60 acres across two sites. Simon and Emma and their teams take pride in the quality their work and the use of the latest technology. They were the UK’s first winery to adopt solar power.

MICHAEL BOUDOT 019_HV tasting room

TM Michael Boudot

Ten years on, the winery has attracted a passionate and dynamic group of individuals, excited about the explosion of interest in English wines and about the prospect of working at the forefront of English wine-making.

They are separated into two distinct teams who together look after the vineyard and make the wine. The wine-making team is made up of Emma and Jacob Leadley (top photo) with help from Will Perkins (2nd Photo)

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will-perkins

The second part of the team (vineyard team) is headed up by Lauren Merryfield (no photo) (Vineyard Manager), Roman Henrion and Tom Birkett

Everyone I spoke to was passionate about viticulture and enthusiastic to try new techniques – from new ways to provide wind and frost protection, irrigation, nutrient application and canopy management (that’s looking after every part of the vine visible above the ground).

There is a huge commitment to evaluating the Hampshire terrior and planting an experimental range of grape varieties and root stock in search of the best fruit-bearing vines.

Hattingley Valley has the potential to be one of the leading and most respected of English sparkling wines. They have already won many global awards and are a leading player in the English sparkling wine industry

The team now manages 60 acres on two well-situated sites. The vines are nurtured throughout the growing year with an environmentally sensitive approach to enhance ripeness, yield and fruit quality.

Just some of the awards Hattingley Valley has won

I was lucky therefore to have an interview with Rebecca Fisher (Marketing and Events Manager) to talk about Hattingley Valley and also put some questions forward to Jacob Leadley, wine-maker.

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VISIT AND INTERVIEW TO HATTINGLEY VALLEY

16th March 2018

The GrapeWizard inaugural interview

GW. What motivated you to join the wine industry ?

JL. It’s such an exciting time to be part of the emerging English wine industry.

GW. What’s going on in the month of March?   Is this month any different from any other. Has the snow caused you any problems?

JL. We are in the midst of tirage (the drawing of wine from a barrel prior to bottling). Its always very stressful, but also very rewarding, it is just great to get the wines safely into bottle then have a beer!

GW. What would you say makes the winery here at Hattingley unique?

JL. At Hattingley we have created a reputation based on quality and we work hard to maintain and improve those standards. I have been here for 7 years and have worked tirelessly to ensure we make the best possible wines every year, the wines tell all.

GW. What is the best thing about working at Hattingley?

JL. It has to be the team – we have without doubt one of the most passionate and fun-loving teams going. Coming to work and working with people so passionate is infectious.

GW.What is the one thing that scares you ?

JL. An empty wine fridge and sub-zero temperatures in April.

GW. What are your predictions for the industry in the year ahead 2018?

JL. Its going to be a bumper year – both in terms of volume and quality, but I always say that in March.

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GW.   And now SIP-SAVE-STALK. What are sipping right now, investing in and what are your hot tips in the industry?

Slide1

GW.  What you are drinking at the moment?

JL. Gibbston Valley – School House Block (2012) – An amazingly pure and lighter Pinot from Central Otago, New Zealand (Sadly, it’s only available to buy in NZ!).2012schoolhouse-pinotnoir

Slide2

GW. What wine you would like to or have invested in and why?

JL. I wish I had put away more of our World Champion 2011 Blanc de Blancs (Hattingley’s 2011 Blanc de Blancs was awarded gold medal, best in class and ‘World Champion’ trophy in the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships 2017)

Slide3GW.  And finally who is the person or persons you most admire in the industry and why?

JL. Anyone who takes a chance and just enjoys what they do. This industry is full of passionate people and thats what makes the industry so vibrant

GW. ANd of course wine is always better if paired with music.  What music pairing would you make for your Brut,  Sparkling Rose,  Kings Cuvee and Vintage?

JL. We play so much music in the winery that it is impossible to pick a song for each of these wines.  What I will say is that these wines would not be as good without the music.

Hattingley’s range :

Hattingley Valley Classic Reserve_black background

£30 each or 6 = £180

CLASSIC RESERVE

Perfect for toasting all occasions.

DESCRIPTION

A blend of several vintage wines. The grapes were hand harvested and whole bunch pressed. 15% of this wine was put in French barrels to soften the wine’s natural acidity before secondary fermentation in bottle and a minimum of 18 months ageing on its lees and at 5 months on cork to add complexity.

TASTING NOTES

Pale gold in colour with an abundance of fine bubbles, this has vibrant baked apple, creamy nougat and brioche notes on the nose, supported by a hint of toast and fresh red fruit

Vegetarian & Vegan Friendly

2013 CLASSIC CUVÉE MAGNUM

DESCRIPTION

An elegant wine with delicate nose of hedgerow flowers , it has finesse, vibrant green fruit and a characteristic toasty flavour.

Pale gold in colour and well-balanced on the palate showing crisp acidity and fine mousse. It has delicate toasty characteristics from being aged on lees whilst the gentle oak flavour adds complexity.

TASTING NOTES

This wine signifies their style –  the grapes were harvested and 25% of the total blend was barrel fermented for 8 months in tank and barrel  to create texture and richness

Vegetarian & Vegan Friendly

Hattingley Valley Rose_No Vintage_black background

£36 each or 6 for £216

2014 ROSÉ

Perfect for balmy summer days.

DESCRIPTION

Subtle and delicate in colour with bright red fruit and fresh acidity, supported by fine toasty notes developed by ageing in the bottle.

2014 was the best vintage to date at Hattingley Valley with near perfect growing conditions. Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes were hand picked and gently pressed. Approximately 8% of the blend was fermented in Burgundy barrels. The wine spent 5 months in tank and barrel before tirage where 2% of Pinot Précoce was added to enhance colour, body and flavour.

Hattingley Valley Kings Cuvee_black background

£80 or 6 for £480

2013 KINGS CUVÉE

A very limited release, the Kings Cuvée is a premium blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. 100% barrel fermented and then aged for 8 months in 4-5 year old oak barrels.

DESCRIPTION

A classic blend of grapes from the Home vineyard. It has a fine persistent mousse with soft approachable fruit, a subtle hint of autolysis and a delicate oak character.

TASTING NOTES

After rigorous taste tests, only the top 7 barrels were selected out of 180 available. Once bottled the wine spent 30 months on lees and 6 months on cork before release.

Vegetarian & Vegan Friendly

Hattingley Valley Blanc De Blancs_black

No price on HV Website

2011 BLANC DE BLANCS

Selected from the very best parcels of Chardonnay.

DESCRIPTION

A fabulous vintage for HV.  The Chardonnay grapes were harvested between the second and third weeks of October with a good sugar:acidity ratio. The October sunshine also contributed to exceptionally ripe fruit and some wonderful wines.

TASTING NOTES

This wine has a lovely deep gold colour with a green hue and a fine mousse.

The nose has delicate white fruit that gives way to a rich toasty and honeyed charm. The palate has ripe apples with a crisp yet soft acidity that is balanced by a hint of oak influence.

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A rich and rounded mouth-feel and long finish.

It has great ageing potential.

As well as doing fabulous sparkling wines they also complement there range by 2 other wines.

Entice_2016 vintage_reflection_HR

ENTICE

2 bottles £40 or 12 for £240

Elegant English dessert wine full of aromas of peach and  elderflower  crisp acidity with a long finish.

Food pairing English blue cheese & any pudding

All vegan and vegetarian friendly

Aqua Vita Shadow -® The Electric Eye Photography

£45

AQUA VITAE

Hattingley Valley decided to hand harvest chardonnay grapes earlier than usual from the vineyards in order to retain a high level of acidity specifically for this project.

This Aqua Vitae is a smooth digestif to enjoy at the end of the meal and benefits from being served straight out of the freezer. It also makes an ideal white base spirit for a cocktail that focuses on English products.

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…and that butterfly that features on the branding is the Silver-washed Fritillar.  It is a rare butterfly found on the chalk-based vineyard at Hattingley Valley in rural Hampshire. The presence of the pretty butterfly indicates the vineyard is a healthy environment with a rich biodiversity.

The weather may have been bleak and cold on the day of my visit but the team and their welcome could not have been warmer. I was very impressed by the team and and the vineyard. I would recommend HV to anyone looking for a fine English sparkling wine.  I’ve already got my bottle of Kings Cuvee and my playlist ready for the next ray of sunshine…

GW MUSIC PAIRING

Enjoy Kings Cuvee with :