English vineyards never cease to amaze me, even when the weather is dark and gloomy there’s something special even magical about seeing rows of vines surrounded by woodland and wildlife.
When you not sure what to expect but then it turns out to be better than you thought, it’s a real pleasant surprise and this is exactly what happened when our small wine group Cuvée Reserve visited Oatley a small west country vineyard in Somerset run by Iian and Jane Awty.
Hidden down a small very narrow country lane, finally ending up at a beautiful unspoilt 1600’s farmhouse, a couple of tasting tents, two extremely playful Collies Jack & Benji and of course vineyard owners Iian and Jane.
Immediately making us feel welcome and offering the services of their home if needed especially as the weather seemed a little uncertain, Iian proceeded to organise the wines for our tasting, which was a little different to most other vineyard visits where the tasting is usually served after the tour and to be honest this made a welcome change.
The vineyard itself is a hectare in size and very uncommercial where they grow two grape varieties, Madeleine Angevine and Kernling. They minimise the use of chemicals and encourage other natural interventions such as fruit-filled hedgerows to encourage animals and bird to feed on them instead of the grapes, they also use lightweight bottles in order to keep their carbon footprint low.
Making ourselves comfortable under their tasting Gazebo Iian brought out a large ice bucket and opened the four wines they produce for us to sample informing us that we could keep the bottles to finish with a picnic (which we brought along) after the tour.
Starting with the bright, clean and fresh tasting Jane’s 2016, which brought a satisfying sigh when lifting the glass to smell the wonderful pronounced aromas of citrus fruit with lemon zest, hedgerows and well, just the countryside. The brightness and freshness repeated in the taste, with mouth-watering acidity along with those citrus fruits and was universally enjoyed by us all. Made with 100% Madeleine Angevine
100% kernling, very similar in style and appearance to Riesling, slightly darker in colour with a dry crisp, slightly floral and yeasty taste.
Next was a blend of Madeleine Angevine 68% and Kernling 38%. Again this was a little darker in colour and a little more muted on the nose although we still picked up some citrus along with a more tropical taste predominately pineapple and a little spice.
Barrel Matured 2015
Madeleine Angevine 68% and Kernling 38% this time matured for 5 months in a French oak barrique, giving the wine more complexity and weight. Only 248 bottles produced and each label individually hand numbered. The oak was very subtle and the wine still retained some citrus fruit flavour, giving a nice clean finish.
As a group, we couldn’t decide on an ultimate favourite as we liked them all, for me I particularly enjoyed the Elizabeth and the barrel matured but still really liked the others.
After the tasting, Iian showed us around the vines (buds just starting to show) explaining the pruning process and how some vines are left higher because of animals eating the fruit especially badgers.
After a very informative and pleasant stroll, we settled back in the tasting tent for our picnic finishing off the bottles we open earlier with Jane lighting a fire and supplying us with blankets for some warmth as we wined and dined.
At the end of a very enjoyable visit we all purchased a box of the four wines we tasted, hopefully, to enjoy in the summer sunshine this time.
Big thanks to Iian and Jane for their hospitality and making us feel welcome