Waitrose & Partners Weekend Issue 627

35 1 DECEMBER 2022 Food&Drink FIZZ MASTER Colin Pratt cares for the vines that produce Leckford Estate Brut – this year’s vintage will be available in 2025 “This year has been a good one in the vineyard,” says Colin Pratt. “The long, hot summer we had is just what you need for good quality grapes, and we ended up harvesting just shy of 30 tonnes, when we’d predicted around 17 tonnes. Each tonne will make around 600 bottles of fizz, so this year’s vintage, available in 2025, will be around 18,000 bottles. It shows how far we’ve come from the first harvest in 2011, when we produced just a couple of thousand bottles in all. “The year in the vineyard really starts in February, when we prune all the vines, then everything begins to wake up and grow in late spring. Here in the Test Valley, we have the same soil type as France’s Champagne region, but we’re at the extremes of successful grape growing in terms of weather – even as late as April we have to be alert for frost, which can impact on grape yields. Flowering usually coincides with the Wimbledon tennis championships, and then we’ll see the first berries, which are only 3-4millimetres across. “Our grapes ripen quite late, inmid-October, so we have to watch out for early frosts too – that can be a tense time. Then there’s harvest, making sure we have enough pickers, liasing with our winemakers so they’re ready to take the grapes, and still worrying about the weather, because the last thing you want at harvest time is rain. It’s not until harvest ends and you see the last lorry go o that you can relax, but it’s a great moment – the highlight of the year. “It’s been a steep learning curve since we planted the vines back in 2009, but we like a challenge and the results speak for themselves in an excellent English fizz thatWaitrose customers love. It really comes into its own at Christmas, and after all the care we put in through the year, it’s a great feeling to know that people all around the country are choosing our wine to celebrate with friends and family.” ‘It’s a great feelingwhen people celebratewith ourwine’ Waitrose has its own vineyard in Hampshire, where Partner Colin Pratt tends the grapes that go into Leckford Estate Brut ‘It’s not until harvest ends and you see the last lorry go off that you can relax, but it’s the highlight of the year’ Leckford Estate Brut £29/75cl