The Devon-based winery is finishing its 2020 harvest, and has found potential alcohol levels of 14.7% in its Pinot Noir grapes
It claims that the levels of alcohol in a particular batch are record-level for the UK and English wine. The Pinot Noir grapes are grown in Crouch Valley in Essex, led by vine grower Duncan McNeill.
'We are jubilant about this incredible news,' commented James Lambert, managing director of Lyme Bay Winery's LBW Drinks. 'For grapes to achieve this level of ripeness in the UK is unheard of. It makes us even more excited about the Pinot Noir that we can create from this year’s harvest.
'The natural ripeness and physiological development of these Pinot Noir grapes means that we can really go to town on the extraction of flavours and colour to make truly singular wines.'
Teams have been working through the night to get the grapes processed as quickly as possible, and the winery has been kept open 24 hours a day during the harvest.
'Before we started the harvest this year, we had an inkling that we were going to get some very ripe fruit,' explained McNeill. 'The dry summer, followed by a bout of rain and then a late burst of warm weather was all very hopeful. But then we had four inches of rain. We held our nerve and didn’t panic pick, the work we did over the summer paid dividends and meant we could wait, and now the grapes have reached peak ripeness. Letting the grapes bathe in a bit of autumn has given them a certain nobility.'
Lyme Bay is creating two tiers of the wine, with the first Pinot Noir looking to be released at the end of 2021, and a more premium release to be available in 2022.