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English winemakers hail ‘best ever’ vintage

English winemakers are hailing the 2009 vintage as ‘one of the best ever’, despite mixed weather conditions during a typical UK summer.

Wet weather in July, particularly in the south-west, failed to dampen optimism for the harvest, which winemakers said was rescued by a long, warm autumn.

English Wine Producers (EWP) reported ‘exceptional’ fruit quality across the country, with Chardonnay and the Pinots registering potential alcohol levels of 11-13%.

Sugar levels were among the highest ever recorded, acidity was good, and ‘excellent’ fruit flavours were reported in many of the UK’s trademark aromatic white wines.

Vintage conditions were boosted by a lack of late frosts, plus warm and dry weather during flowering. Even the unseasonal rains of July were welcomed by EWP for ‘replenishing much-needed moisture in the ground’.

One grower said that ‘the main pleasure was the cleanliness of the grapes’, while another reported that they had ‘probably harvested some of the best quality grapes ever’.

EWP said the volume of wine produced in 2009 should be considerably higher than in the past two years, thanks to a number of new vineyards coming on stream. Production could even top the previous record of over 3m bottles, recorded in 2006.

Written by Richard Woodard

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