Now there’s a famous saying that you shouldn’t mention politics and religion in the same sentence whilst in the presence of friends. Times have changed. In the run up to the exit of Europe we should be discussing with and lobbying the Government on this fragile but very successful industry. we have 397 vineyards in the UK but are not championing home grown talent. When was the last time you went into a pub and had the choice of ordering UK wine. Who wouldn’t want to pay 14.99(RRP) for an excellent UK produced wine?
British sparkling wine has seen a resurgence recently and Oatley Vineyard is one such lovely place that just produces fabulous still wines. Jane and Ian (current owners) up-sticked in 1985 from West London and moved to Somerset – Investing not only a new life but also £350 on a 1951 Ferguson T20 tractor.
What a beauty (not the exact one but you get the idea)
Having had a few facelifts in its long life they used the tractor to help sow the seeds (sorry!) for the future. Vines soon flourished and three years later (usually the time it take vines to produce grapes), on the 5th November 1988, the vineyard came alive.
• The vineyard has its own Tablet of Commitments and it aims to do the following to keep the wines true to the area. A signature ideal for the vineyard.
• Use minimum intervention winemaking.
• Use lower weight bottles to keep carbon footprint low & sell wine locally.
• Use high quality corks to preserve cork ecology in Portugal;
• Maintain old vines – keeping traditional aromatic vine varieties.
• Promote biodiversity by letting hedgerows grow
• Stay small and keep integrity intact.
Their philosophy is to manage the vines to minimise disease through good vine management and minimise artificial controls. Most years they produce two dry white wines. Each vintage is different but the varietal characteristics of the two grape varieties are the same.
Kernling is a white grape variety, a mutation from the grapes Kerner and Madeleine Angevine.
Madeleine Angevine is a white wine grape from the Loire Valley in France, also popular in Germany, Kyrgyzstan and Washington State.
Leonora’s and Jane’s
2016 “Leonora’s” wines are dry and elegant, similar to a dry Riesling in style. They can be drunk young but develop in the bottle, showing complex honey overtones when approaching four years old or more. made from Kernling grapes, a first cross from mineral, salty, peach, celery and Rhubarb
£11 from Oatley Vineyard
2017 “Jane’s” wines, from golden Madeleine Angevine grapes are light and crisp with a flower-scented nose and citrus notes, sometimes with a hint of elderflower and on the finish – gooseberry. Delightful as an apéritif, for a party, in a summer garden or just for a refreshing glass at home. Best drunk young and fresh, within 2 – 3 years. Often likened to a restrained Sauvignon Blanc in style. Tropical fruit and lemon £10.50 from Oatley Vineyard.
Sometimes they produce a blend of our two varietals, named 2015 “Elizabeth’s” £10:85 from Oatley Vineyard after their daughter Liz. These wines, when available, make good wines to pair with food with the structure of the Kernling coupled with upfront fruit from the Madeleine.
GW Geek Info – Quality Status
Oatley wines have all passed the official UK wine quality scheme, which involves independent analysis and professional tasting. They are all English Wine PDO (PDO – Protected Designation of Origin). English Wine PDO is the highest quality standard for English wines. Whereas English Regional Wine (PGI) is of similar technical standard but can include wine from hybrid vines and wines with no, or little, added sulphites.
The UK has had a Quality and Regional wine scheme in place since 1992 and the new PDO/PGI schemes have evolved from these. There are schemes for Sparkline wine but for the purposes of Oatley where they have no sparkling we don’t need to include it into this article. You can visit my website to find out more on this.
GW vintage notes
Vintage Notes for current releases
2014 was a big year for UK wines. Almost perfect conditions A heavy crop and enough warmth and sun to ripen it well, with just enough rain to swell the grapes.
2015 was a trickly year . Juggling with conditions. The winemakers believe both Kernling an Madeleine had issues that made it not quite perfect. In the end the estate settled on a blend 62% Madeleine, 38%.Kernling. To balance out the flavours, This was to be “Elizabeth’s”.
2016 was a dream year for vine growers with rain and sun in all; the right places. Grapes were as near perfect as they’ve ever been.
The Jane’s 2017 will be released in early summer 2018.
To read about Oatley Vineyards and more you can visit