A thirty-year old south Staffordshire vineyard has made national and international headlines by unveiling a red wine with a strength more commonly associated with Australian Shiraz production.
Halfpenny Green Vineyards owner Clive Vickers has faced a barrage of interest with the revelation that Rondo grapes harvested in September, 2010 have produced a red wine that at one point threatened to top 17.4% but settled back to 15%, itself a UK record.
Vickers says: “This is a supercharged wine. I joked with film crew from Daybreak that I had gone down to Aldi to buy Australian Shiraz to put in the bottles!”
The vineyard, first planted in 1983, raises Rondo grapes on a four acre plot. In a good year, the vineyard harvests some 25 tonnes of grapes that would typically produce a 12% red.
Vickers says: “Last year, we only picked upwards of eight tonnes because of the weather. In Staffordshire, we had temperatures of 29 degrees. This year we had temperatures of 13 degrees.”
Normally, Halfpenny Green Rondo is blended with Pinot Noir by Vickers but this year will be different. He says: “I decided not blend this year as the wine would have been huge. It almost reached 17%, which would have caused great problems, not least with the duty authorities. The wine risked becoming too big. It has to be drinkable.”
The wine has spent three months in the bottle before release and will produce some 10,000 bottles. The wine, which Vickers describes as fruity and plummy, has generated considerable interest in both consumer and trade media. As well as reports on BBC Scotland, West Midlands television, BBC Stoke and Midlands Today, the wine was covered on Daybreak as well as being covered, somewhat sceptically, in Australia.
Halfpenny Green wine is mainly sold at the cellar door but this news exposure has driven traffic to the vineyard’s website, reveals Vickers. He says: “Overnight we had 127 orders.”
The wine will retail at £19.95, which Vickers describes as “cheap” after an introductory offer of £12.95, but Vickers intends to lay down some of the vintage. He says: “I plan to play down some of the wine for the Decanter awards as well as the UKVA.”
He would love to repeat this wine’s achievement, but accepts that given the unique climatic conditions that prevailed in 2011 and is resigned to the likelihood that this vintage might become a “one-off”.