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Central London winery to make English wine

London Cru, the winery in the heart of the UK capital, is to make its first English wine from the 2014 vintage after being impressed with the quality of this year's harvest.

London Cru’s winemaker, Gavin Monery (left), with Chris Nicholas, of Sandhurst Vineyards

London Cru
has arranged to buy 3,000 kilos of Bacchus grapes from Sandhurst Vineyards in Kent, southern England, which should be enough to produce around 2,000 bottles of still wine.

The move signals London Cru’s ambition to expand following a warm reception from critics for its first wines produced in a boutique cellar from the 2013 vintage – with grapes imported from southern France and Piedmont in Italy.

‘It’s such a good harvest that we said, if we’re ever to try it, then this is the year,’ said Gavin Monery, London Cru’s Australian-born winemaker. ‘We tried last year but we couldn’t find grapes with the right spec.’

The first Bacchus grapes for London Cru are set to be harvested on Monday 29 September and should arrived at the winery by the following morning.

Several English winemakers have said they are upbeat about the 2014 harvest, following good weather during the growing season. Just north of central London, in Enfield, Forty Hall Vineyard plans to make its first sparkling wine from the 2014 vintage.

Forty Hall, which is a social enterprise that relies mostly on volunteers, has recuited Will Davenport to make its wine. Grapes planted include the classic Champagne varieties of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay.

At London Cru, Monery said English wine is only one of several plans to produce a range of interesting wines.

The winery, which is joint-owned by Roberson founder Cliff Roberson and investor Will Tomlinson, is also expecting a delivery of Garnacha grapes from 90-year-old bush vines planted 1,000 metres above sea level in Spain’s Aragon region.

Monery said that, all together, ‘we’re going to do 33 tonnes this year. That’s about as big as we can get at the moment.’ The winery has tried to spread its supplies between early and late ripening grapes, to ease pressure on the winery team.

Its first wines, a Chardonnay, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Barbera, were last week released for sale. They have been named simply ‘White wine 1’ and Red wine 1, 2 and 3, after the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) blocked any mention of grape varieties on labels.

In the last few days, Decanter.com understands that the FSA has softened its stance and may change the rules in time for next year.

Written by Chris Mercer

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