OWC Days Out: Freedom of the Press
With English Wine week having just taken place, it is a chance to sit back and take a look at the phenomenal burst of activity in the world of English wine. Many may consider good English wine to be a myth, however with many wineries emerging, it is certainly something to discover for yourself.
One of the top-quality producers to keep your eye out for in our shops is 'Freedom of the Press.' They are an 'urban winery,' based in Minster Lovell, Witney. The OWC team had the pleasure of visiting them during English Wine Week.
The winery is owned by fellow wine-lover Gavin Carver, who started it up only just last year. Gavin's vision was originally to have his winery based in the center of Oxford, similar to city-based producers like The Oxford Artisan Distillery or Renegade in London. However, due to covid and other complications the winery is now based out in the beautiful Cotswolds, overlooking the English countryside.
An 'urban winery' means that the grapes are bought from a vineyard and transported to the winery where the wine is made and bottled. Gavin had the understanding that if he was going to make top quality wines, he needed top quality grapes, and Oxfordshire was not providing those standards. Through thorough research and expert advice, Gavin acquired his grapes from Essex, which is currently known as one of the best places to grow grapes in the UK. The vineyards he sources his fruit from are sustainable and environmentally friendly, providing quality over quantity.
The winery is an absolute treat for any wine-lover. Gavin has an array of first-class equipment, including large stainless-steel vats, Louis Latour barrels, and sandstone amphorae. While following all current trends in the wine industry, Gavin is experimenting to find which techniques allow the grapes he has chosen to express themselves best. With the recent release of his Bacchus white wine and recent bottling of their 'pink' wine, there is still some wine sitting and forming. Gavin currently has Pinot Gris in stainless steel vats that have recently been extracted from amphora. There is also some Chardonnay ageing in barrel, which is being carefully monitored so it will be bottled at its prime time.
With the Bacchus white wine and 'A Brighter Fuchsia' pink wine recently being bottled; we had the pleasure of being offered a taste.
The first treat of the day was tasting the Freedom of the Press Bacchus. This was the first wine that Freedom of the Press released. Most of the grapes were fermented in stainless steel vats, to retain the optimum freshness, with only 10% fermenting in amphora, which adds a touch of texture. The aromas are an ode to the English countryside in Spring. It is packed with notes of elderflower and hawthorn, and other delicate hints of British white flowers. There are underlying, subtle notes of fresh, crunchy green apples and freshly cut grass. From the first sip you can sense this linear, clean line of acidity, with mineral notes clinging on to it. Those green apple and soft lemon notes really shine through, with echoes of blossom. On the mid-palate, there is a weightiness and substance to the wine, that leaves you highly satisfied. I have only tried a handful of Bacchus wines from the UK, and this was certainly a standout contender. This would pair wonderfully with a seasonal asparagus risotto or some delicately fried scallops with lemongrass.
Our next treat was being able to taste Freedom of the Press' 'A Brighter Fuchsia', which they refer to as their 'pink' wine. Due to wine laws in the UK, it cannot be labeled as a rosé as it is a blend of white and red grapes. This wine is 50% Chardonnay and 50% Pinot Noir, and was created through a last-minute idea that turned into a miracle. Both the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir have spent six months in one-year-old, lightly toasted French oak, with the Chardonnay spending some extra time on the lees. The aromas of this wine are unlike any rosé I have tried before! There is an initial note of roses with some soft, fresh cranberries and ripe red cherries. There are also some wonderful aromas of butter buried within the bouquet of berries, which is due to the lees ageing. On the palate, the Chardonnay provides precise acidity and a rounded, creamy finish to the wine. The Pinot Noir gives us wonderful wild strawberry and cranberry notes, with lifted dried violets. 'A Bright Fuchsia' is being carefully held in the winery, waiting to be released and enjoyed.
Our trip to the winery was highly informative and exciting. Gavin truly has a grip on his vision and what he is trying to achieve, giving us a better understanding to what was put in our glass. The two wines we were lucky to try are showing true quality and potential of the winery, and we all extremely eager to see what is to come.
If you would like the try Freedom of the Press Bacchus 2020 visit one of our shops and treat yourself to a bottle or order online: https://www.oxfordwine.co.uk/products/freedom-of-the-press-bacchus
More detailed information about Gavin's Journey, the winery, and the wines themselves can be found on the website https://www.freedomofthepress.co.uk/.
For more quality English wines, watch this space!