Oz Clarke: 'Sark capable of something special in wine'

February 02, 2012 (PRLEAP.COM) Lifestyle News
SARK HAS every chance of creating "something special" in the world of wine, says wine broadcaster Oz Clarke who has visited the island to taste the results of its first harvest.

The first wine is an experimental blend of Savagnin, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris from the first 30,000 vines planted on Sark. This tiny island in the English Channel is eight miles from the Guernsey coast and 20 miles from Normandy.

Clarke was hosted by winemaker Dr Alain Raynaud one of the original "Vins du Garagistes" from Bordeaux who heads up the team at Sark Vineyards and Kevin Delaney, managing director of Sark Estate Management, which owns Sark Vineyards.

Describing Sark's new wine, Clarke said it had a personality of its own, "aromatic and fresh" with notes of a "particular apple" from Kent in England.

"It's something like a Cox's Orange Pippin, it's actually that specific," he said. "It's very aromatic and it oozes ripeness and texture. It has a quite biting acidity which is what I want. I can see the sea all around me and I want some of that freshness of the sea.

"If you wanted to make this as a base for a sparkling wine I'm absolutely sure that you could make excellent sparkling wine out of this. I am really looking forward to seeing this in about six months time when it's had a bit more time to fatten up and calm down. I am delighted to be one of the first people to taste wine from Sark and I bet I won't be the last I think Sark has every chance to do something special in the world of wine."

Raynaud, a St Émilion winemaker whose wines have often scored 100 points from wine critic Robert Parker, said: "We have state-of-the-art winemaking equipment here at the winery in Sark and exceptional cellar facilities. And as we make the wine in the front room of an old manor house [called La Jaspellerie] I call this wine a 'Vin du Salon'."

Sark is a plateau island and grapes are grown organically about 100m above sea level. When Sark Vineyards start producing wine on a larger scale, a new eco-friendly winery is set to be built with coastal views towards the surrounding Channel Islands. Raynaud says Sark's soil enables its wines to be perfect for the premium end of sparkling wine.

A small parcel of single varietal Savagnin, which is most commonly found in the Jura wine region of France, has also been produced by Raynaud's team. In addition to Savagnin, Chardonnay and Pinot Gris, Sark Vineyards has also planted Gamay, Pinot Noir, Albariño and Müller-Thurgau.

Kevin Delaney expressed his delight in watching the vineyards grow into a new 11ha wine region for Europe.

"To have someone of Oz Clarke's standing come to Sark and express such a positive view about our first wines is testament to the hard work and commitment that Alain and the entire team have put into Sark's new vineyard region," said Delaney. "I am absolutely delighted for them and they should be very proud of themselves."

Alain Raynaud added: "I am very happy to have the opinion of Oz Clarke and for him to discover the first wines of Sark. Savagnin is one of the rarest of grapes and the wines of Sark will be very individual. This is not an easy task but we like to be complex."

Oz Clarke video: to watch Oz, left, sampling the first wines from the island of Sark please click here

About Dr Alain Raynaud
* Dr Alain Raynaud is a former physician and president of Bordeaux's Union des Grands Crus. Raynaud is best known for producing Quinault L'Enclos a St Émilion wine counted among the Right Bank's "supercuvées" or "vins de garage". He later sold the château to Eric Rothschild.

* Raynaud is also the owner of the Pomerol estates Château La Croix-de-Gay and Château La Fleur-de-Gay.

* Raynaud's team includes French winemaker Etienne Longuechaud and terroir specialist David Pernet. Sparkling wine will be produced in the traditional method used in Champagne by winemaker Mark Quertenier.

About Sark Vineyards

  • Sark Vineyards is owned by Sark Estate Management, whose managing director is Kevin Delaney
  • Sark's wine regions include La Rondellerie, Beauregard, Mon Plaisir and Jaspellerie, where a state-of-the-art winemaking facility has been established
  • Around £1million investment in Sark Vineyards has been made to date with the next phase to include 5,000 trees planted to protect the vineyards from wind
  • Sark Island Hotels is a group of four hotels run by Sark Estate Management and from 2012 will be offering vineyard and gourmet holidays. For more information please visit: www.sarkislandhotels.com

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