Wayford Sparkling Pinot Noir.
The Wayford vineyard grows only one grape variety – Pinot noir – which is the second most widely grown grape variety in the UK. Pinot noir is a very old variety and may be only a couple of generations away from wild Vitis sylvestris. It can be dated back to at least the first century C.E.
It is notoriously difficult to grow well; in part because it is prone to mildew and moulds as the grapes ripen. Pinot noir is a cold climate variety but in Somerset we are towards the outer part of its growing range. This means that in most years the vines struggle to produce a ripe crop, but it seems that this struggle imparts extra complexity and flavour length to the wine.
Wayford Pinot noir is a vintage wine which means that only the grapes grown in our vineyard, in one annual crop, is made into that year’s wine. Since most of the influencing factors on wine quality: the geology and geography of the vineyard are fixed from year to year the biggest variable is the weather.
The variability in the weather – particularly sunshine and growing temperature – through each year, accounts for most of the natural variability in the wine from vintage to vintage.
Large producers of sparkling wine devote a lot of effort into blending various wines together with the aim of keeping a uniform and consistent character for the brand. We regard the subtle differences in the character of the wine from year to year as an additional point of interest.
Our wine is made using the champagne method so the gas that forms the bubbles in the finished wine is produced from the metabolism of yeast cells during the second fermentation.
We store and mature the wine ‘on the lees’. This is the condition when the second fermentation is complete but the wine – in bottles – is in contact with the sediment that has been produced by the yeast cells. At this stage the gas pressure in the bottles is approximately six times atmospheric pressure. In this condition, very complex exchanges take place between the sediment and the wine.
This ‘ageing’ is not entirely consistent from vintage to vintage but we invariably find that the wine improves with at least two to five years of ageing. Once the wine has been disgorged – a process that removes the sediment – the ageing largely stops and the wine should be relatively stable from that point. We only disgorge wine as it is required for sale.