MEET CLIVE BARLOW
Introduce us to yourself and your wines:
I fell into the wine world after doing a harvest on an English vineyard and then working in the winery. I was hooked by the sensual nature of wine, the global reach, the connection with farming and culture and food. Since 1990 I have spent my time in retail, training, studying, shipping and wholesaling for a number of companies and in 1999, after becoming a Master of Wine I set up my own business in retail and events.
Living in Kent there is a great opportunity to be part of the local wine business. I have created two wines made from grapes from nearby growers who are dedicated to producing great fruit.
The Rosé comes from one of Kent’s smallest vineyards, Tonford Manor, a medieval manor house just outside Canterbury. The vineyard is about the size of a football pitch and is run by two wine fanatics, who planted up the vines about 25 years ago. You won’t find their wines anywhere as the grapes have always, until now, been used to make wine for the owners. I managed to persuade them to sell me some grapes, which would cover their wine making costs. It is a great dry rosé made from 100% Pinot Noir and fermented cool in steel. It has typical red fruits and light spice with a mineral edge.
The Bacchus fruit comes from Brenley Farm, close to the market town of Faversham. The farm is a mix of arable, fruit orchards, beef and hops and now grapes. This is the second harvest from the young vineyard; I was so impressed with the wine from the first harvest that I had to buy the fruit and make some wine from it. It is an aromatic beauty delivering green apple, elderflower and grapefruit on a crisp, vivacious palate.
What does sustainability mean to you?
Sustainability covers many areas including the production, the packaging and distribution of the wine from the soil to the shelf or table and, importantly, to deliver a fair reward to the producer, distributor and retailer or restaurant. In the area of production this means working in a way that preserves or improves the quality and diversity of the environment, especially through minimal use of synthetic chemicals and recycling of waste material. In terms of distribution this is lowest carbon footprint for transport, material etc and maximum opportunity for re-use or recycling. We need to sustain or better still take actions which will regenerate the life of our soils, biospheres and climate.
What steps are the growers and winemaking team for your wines taking to be more sustainable?
Tonford is micro-managed by the two owners who do all the work by hand and restrict the use of chemical inputs purely to the management of mildew. Insect management is done by use of predators rather than spraying. No herbicides are used. Brenley farms according to the WineGB sustainability programme, introduced earlier this year.
Do you think organic and biodynamic viticulture can work well in the U.K.?
They can and do, as shown by producers such Albury, Davenport and Oxney. There is always a greater risk of reduced or damaged crops but thee producers have proved to be sustainable. The costs of production are significantly higher to begin with but with time the higher costs are diminished. However, there is still a slightly higher production cost and greater risk of lower yields.
What are the best ways for U.K. producers to be more sustainable?
Sustainability will come in various forms. Firstly, vineyard work to encourage stronger plants and a diverse bio-sphere which promotes predators to reduce unwanted insects. Solar panels, waste water management etc will limit demands on brought in resources. A move toward greater recyclable or re-usable packaging, such as Sustainable Wine Solutions Bottle Return Scheme, will also reduce the footprint of wine production.
Briefly describe the winemaking style employed for your two wines:
Both wines are made at Defined Wine, a custom crush company established 2 years ago near Canterbury. The wines are both only a few miles from the winery so the grapes arrive fresh and in good condition.
The Bacchus is cool fermented using cultured yeasts, taken of gross lees and aged for a short period on fine lees to enrich the texture. There was then a short period in tank before bottling. The aim was to preserve the pure varietal character and create a fresh, vibrant white with plenty of fruit and floral notes. The Pinot Noir had a short cold soak to bring out colour and red fruit notes, the grapes were then gently pressed so as not extract heavy tannins and fermented at low temperature. The wine has the gentle red fruits of Pinot with a dash of spice and minerality.
How would you pitch your wine to a customer in a restaurant?
Both wines are fresh and engaging. The Bacchus has a vibrancy that will lift the palate and bring the flavour of springtime in Kent to their palate. The rosé has plenty of character, is a great food partner and is a very unique product, only 500 bottles were made.