The 2022 harvest was a good one for English winemakers and so it proved for Cambridge-based Gutter & Stars, whose winemaker Chris Wilson is also a writer for The Buyer (when he finds time!). He managed to source almost three times the fruit that he did the year previous year which has meant the wine portfolio is now eight wines strong, and the quality of the 2022 fruit has led to some stylistic changes in the Pinot Noir.
“As well as bottling the new wines this month, we are also launching the Gutter & Stars Wine Club,” writes Wilson.
Since my last dispatch in the middle of 2022 it’s been very busy at Gutter&Stars. We’ve released three new wines, which have now almost sold out (there are a couple of dozen ‘Longplayer’ Chardonnay 2020 still kicking about if anyone wants to snap them up!), launched a series of regular tastings in the Chesterton Mill winery, and undertaken our biggest harvest to date.
The 2022 harvest was a dream; ripe fruit of outstanding quality, good yields across the board, smooth logistics (excepting one pranged rental van), and all-in-all far less stressful than 2021. We really upped our game in terms of quantity last year, taking 6 tonnes of fruit compared to 2.3 tonnes in 2021, this was mostly Chardonnay and Pinot with some Bacchus and Ortega too, coming largely from Essex but there were also parcels of grapes from Oxfordshire and Kent.
From this six tonne haul there will be eight separate wines made; four of which are being readied for a spring release. The four Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines (two cuvées of each variety) need more time and two of these may not see the light of day until 2025.
The four ‘early-release’ wines are being bottled this month for release in May and June. Here’s a quick note on what to expect from these wines.
Fight the Power // Ortega 2022
Made from Ortega grapes grown at Yew Tree Vineyard in Oxfordshire this detailed white wine is floral and bright with characters of peach tea and honeysuckle.
Rage Against the Dying of the Light // Rosé 2022
This perky, refreshing wine is shot through with notes of red berries and aromatic pink grapefruit. A lime-flecked acidity adds spark and bite.
A Shiver in the Dark // White Blend 2022
A trio of grapes come to the party here to create a luscious, fruit-packed wine. With Ortega and Bacchus at the fore there’s an aromatic, tropical edge. Chardonnay completes the picture, bringing richness and zip.
Lost in You // Bacchus 2022
This Essex Bacchus is packed with attitude and punch. It’s edgy and electric with gooseberry, white peach and lanolin characters, and a racy but rounded grapefruit acidity.
This collection should excite and intrigue in equal measure when they hit the shelves this spring/summer, and the artwork is pretty stunning too; a cluster of pop-arty, moody and punky labels that look as good in a frame as they do in the fridge door.
I’m just as excited about the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines which are currently maturing away in the barrel rack, but with these wines patience is key. Of the four different parcels of fruit here (three from Essex and one from Kent) they are all showing different characters and it will be fascinating to see how they develop over time.
Both Pinots are richer and less subtle than the ‘Shadowplay’ Pinot Noir from the 2021 vintage, reflecting the wonderful growing season and abundant sunshine of 2022. Shadowplay’s perfume and delicate spice is replaced (for now) by more pronounced – even juicy – red fruit and baking spice characters. The Chardonnays are already rich and rewarding, but need time to loosen up and blow off some of the primary fermentation and malo characters. Can’t wait to see how all these wines grow into themselves.
Britain’s ‘Best Bacchus’
It was great last autumn to receive a nod for the ‘Strange News From Another Star’ Bacchus in Tom Hewson ‘England 2022 Special Report’, which he penned for Tim Atkin MW. ‘Strange News’ was the top-scoring Bacchus in the report, which saw over 300 wines tasted blind. “A very good job with a difficult brief in 2021, and the highest-scoring Bacchus in this year’s report,” said Hewson.
This wine has gone down really well with customers and critics alike, with Decanter giving it a score of 92/100 and Tamyln Currin, writing for JancisRobinson.com commenting “this has startling length and purity. Absolutely beautiful. Silvery and gold and gleaming. Beaming. I’m beaming. Bacchus usually makes me wince, but here I am beaming.”
You can’t beat that!
As well as bottling the new wines this month, we are also launching the Gutter&Stars Wine Club. Fine details are currently being ironed out and design guru Ed Wright is putting the finishing touches to the G&S Wine Club logo and aesthetics so expect an announcement on this very soon.
More details in my next column too. Until then, cheers!