Winewyse Press Articles

Winemakers Doing the Right Thing for the Environment

Richard Esling - Monday, January 25, 2021
Winemakers Doing the Right Thing for the Environment

Winemakers Doing the Right Thing for the Environment

Purato, a forward-thinking wine producer on the island of Sicily, is a leader when it comes to sustainability and environmental conscience.
All large-scale agricultural activities undertaken by man have an impact on our environment. Our planet is being ravaged by man’s activities and those that have been watching ‘A Perfect Planet’ by the environmental demi-god David Attenborough, cannot fail to be shocked by the consequences. Happily, the message that this situation cannot persist and that something has to be done about it, is getting through to more and more companies who are in a position to react.

In the world of wine, more and more producers are taking up the challenge of significantly reducing their carbon footprint and consequently protecting their local environment. The move towards organic wine production is growing apace, reducing chemical pollution and simultaneously making pure and authentic wines. More and more producers are going several steps further, such as Vina Ventisquero in Chile.
Back in the Northern Hemisphere, the Sicilian wine producer Purato has taken sustainability to heart and is one of the leading producers of organic wines and sustainability in this region. Not only is their entire range of wines certified organic, but they are also vegan friendly and their products have been certified Carbon Neutral. Going further than most, the bottles are made from 80% recycled glass, the cardboard cartons are 100% recycled cardboard and the labels are made with paper from responsible, sustainable, sources. I’m not sure about gold medals, but they certainly deserve a host of gold stars!

So what of the wines themselves? I remember first attempts at organic wine production some 40 or so years ago, leaving me seriously unimpressed. But techniques have changed out of all recognition and both organic and biodynamic (a step further) wines can now be quite outstanding. Last week I was invited to participate in a Zoom wine tasting, hosted in Italy by Stefano Girelli of Purato. The event was a great success, with all participants, including myself, finding the four wines presented to be well-made, well presented and utterly delicious.

These are easy-going, easy-drinking wines, designed to appeal to wine drinkers across the board. The white was a blend of 60% Catarratto and 40% Pinot Grigio, light, crisp and refreshing. A rosé – yes rosé – was pale in colour, with an aroma of fresh strawberries, made from local Nero d’Avola grapes. Don’t reserve rosé wines just for the Summer: they are equally delicious with a winter pasta dish or pizza.

The other two wines were reds and very different in style. First was a 100% Nero d’Avola 2019, ripe and luscious from Sicily’s number one grape variety. Dark berry fruits and soft tannins. The other was a fabulous wine called ‘Siccari’, made by the appassimento, centuries’ old technique, where the grapes are left to dry naturally prior to fermentation. Deep, ruby colour, the aromas and flavours of dark plums, black cherries and raisins are intense, with a voluptuously soft, rich velvety finish on the palate.

Proof positive that investment in protecting our planet can pay dividends.

Sparkling Pinot Gris. A first for the UK

Richard Esling - Monday, January 11, 2021
Sparkling Pinot Gris. A first for the UK

Novel English Sparkler from Fox and Fox Wins Gold

So, our somewhat muted Christmas festivities are well and truly over and here we are, nearly halfway through January in Lockdown Number Three. A definite sense of ‘Déjà vu’. This wine discovery, however, I am fairly convinced would not be on most people’s list of ‘Déjà Bu’! It is a sparkling Pinot Gris made by the award-winning English wine producer Fox and Fox, based in Mayfield, East Sussex. It is the only one of its kind in England and in fact is a rare style of wine anywhere in the world.

With a keen sense of experimentation and innovation, the winemaker Jonica Fox, alongside her husband and partner Gerard, constantly pushes the boundaries in order to create interestingly different wines which stand out from the crowd. This sparkler, made from 90 % pinot gris with 10% chardonnay certainly fits that mould and has met with outstanding success, being awarded not only one, but two gold medals. The aptly named ‘Inspiration’ 2014, made by the Traditional Method (as in champagne) is called a Blanc de Gris and gained gold in the 2019 Independent English Wine Awards and gold also in the very challenging Global Pinot Gris Masters 2020.

Such is the creative flair of Fox and Fox, that this sparkling English wine producer has gained 9 gold medals in 2020 – undoubtedly affording some relief from the rest of the news during that year. Established in 2004, the producer continues to evolve its business model, having now proved beyond doubt its high-quality winemaking expertise. The future will now be based on sourcing grapes not only from their own vineyard, but also from a number of growers from across Sussex, supplying on an exclusive basis. This system, similar to many champagne producers, allows the Foxs to select high quality grapes from some of the best growing sites in Sussex.

A unique English sparkling wine, it is quite delicious, with a low dosage giving an attractive dry taste, combined perfectly with a crisp acidity. Personally, I find this a surprisingly appealing wine, with an inherent English sparkling wine style of fruit, spice and mouth-watering acidity. The nose has notes of honeycomb and golden mirabelle plums, with freshness and intensity. The palate is full flavoured, with flavours of gala apples, fresh greengages, lemon peel and hints of toast and spice.

The current release of the 2014 has been aged on the lees for 4 ½ years, increasing the intensity and complexity of flavours. Outstanding proof that the Pinot Gris grape variety can do very well in the capricious English climate and that with dedication, passion, creativity and a lot of hard work, exceptional wines can be made here.

Certified by the Vegan Society, all Fox & Fox’s wines are suitable for vegans and vegetarians and are available to purchase directly from the producer’s online shop