Sam the Sommelier sets out her stall on a soggy summer

Som Sam mug shotWe all know 2012 was a truly terrible year for growing anything , not just our botryose friends.  Everything was a washout:  just look at the diluted fruit and veg which we are now being told are not up to scratch nutritionally.  That’s OK, I can dig out my multi-vitamins, but what do we do about the empty stainless steel tanks languishing in wineries around the country?

Cast your minds back, if you will, to October and the dramatic headlines –  Weather wash out for Nyetimber’s 2012 harvest’,  ‘Britain’s wine industry withers on the vine’ – and it begs the question: where is the wine going to come from to satiate our newly whetted appetites for English Sparklers? With its customary awful timing, the English weather looks set to rain on our parade.  This is particularly galling on the back of one of the most self-congratulatory years on record (Jubilee, Olympics  etc.) we were all practically bathing in the stuff.  Now it looks like the party might be over.

It reminds me of a story I heard from Steve Smith of Craggy Range in New Zealand about his early experiences.  The team had been working tirelessly to make and market great wines and had built up a head of steam.  They were selling everything they could make which sounds great, right? But then:  disaster.  The worst vintage in living memory and they had nothing left to sell and what happened to the customers?  Well they went elsewhere, there are lots of nice wines out there, and it took many more years of hard work to win them back.

Oh gloom, sounds horribly familiar. So, what do we do now? Throw in the towel and go running back to Champagne cap-in-hand   Drown our sorrows in a vat of Prosecco ?  We can only hope that UK producers have learned such lessons from our New World cousins and are taking their supply management seriously.

We can also learn a thing or two from our neighbours in Champagne who keep a healthy stock of their base wines in reserve, not just for blending to maintain their house style, but also to control the flow of their product on to the marketplace.  Keeping back in plentiful years means you can supplement the lean.  All basic economics.

So we will have to wait and see what happens in 2013. Did our wineries make hay while the sun shone or did they save some for a rainy day ?


What do you think of Sam’s opinions? Is she too gloomy or far-sighted? Getin touch


See also: Talk of sparkling wine name far from flat

Sommelier Sam started as a wine drinker, then became a wine enthusiast, then a wine student and is now a wine buyer. She is studying for the WSET Diploma at Plumpton College.

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