In the world of winemaking, every year is a new chapter in the story of a vineyard's journey. In our collaboration with Castlewood Vineyard, we've experienced the ebb and flow of nature's influence on wine and style.
The Devon Minnow, a special project between mates Hutson, HIX and Corbett, has seen some intriguing years, each with its set of challenges and triumphs. Here’s an update on what’s been happening:
2021: A Cold Year with a Silver Lining
- A lean, cold year with high rain in September.
- Thankfully, the grapes were harvested in time to avoid dilution.
- The resulting wine boasted an alcohol of 11.5%.
- A green harvest was done to increase grape ripeness
2022: A Year of Drought and Contrasts
- The opposite of 2021, 2022 brought drought and little rainfall.
- We had only about half of the usual annual rainfall (around 20 inches) by September.
- The lack of rain made the grapes susceptible to powdery mildew, a fungus that thrives in dry conditions.
- Despite the challenges, a careful selection process resulted in tiny yields.
- The berries were smaller than usual, producing only about a third of the typical vintage.
The 2022 Devon Minnow: A Rarity
- The vintage was so unique that it resulted in just a quarter of the usual yield.
- To adapt, the grapes were whole-cluster pressed, like the 2018 Devon Minnow.
- The natural alcohol content was around 12%, allowing for fermentation with two yeast strains, X5 and Delta.
- The fermentation took place in oak barrels, specifically 3-year-old ones.
- The wine spent 11 months in barrels and was bottled in September 2023.
- It will age in the bottle until spring 2024 when it will be tasted before its release.
- This vintage shares similarities with 2018, featuring concentrated flavours, low yields and higher sugar content.
2023: Promising Progress
- Castlewood Vineyard has experienced good warmth and yields, with disease-free fruit.
- The wines in this vintage are notably low in acidity, making them ideal for still wines.
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Photo credit George Chesterton.