In the vines

January started warm with min-max temperatures 8-16ºC for 10 days. Then it got cold for the rest of the month with sub-zero lows to highs of 9ºC for 10 days. 20 out of 30 days were sunny. The mistral blew hard for around 10 days. Unfortunately there was just around 10mm of rain in the whole month.

February saw temperatures from around 2ºC to 12ºC in the first half then became a little bit warmer for the rest of the month. 20 out of 30 days were sunny. There was less than 5mm rain. And the mistral blew hard for around for the first few days of the month and for a couple of days end of the month.

March was again dry. Again less than 10mm. It starts to get worrying. It started cold in the 3º to 12º range for a week but soon we had temperatures from 6-8ºC first thing to 17-20º in the afternoon. 26 out of 31 days were fully or mostly sunny. The mistral blew again hard for a few days mid and end of the month.

The wines

I retired the company name Heliocentric Wines from everyday public use. I figure that Same River Twice is the name by which the wine is known and that’s enough for our public profile. I keep the company name for administration. I made a nice new logo to go with “Same River Twice Wines” and changed the website URL to https://samerivertwicewines.com. The logo is also on the new corks (more on corks below). The boxes carry the label design as they’ve always done. This year I’ve also been able to get the boxes I had for the first vintage which had become impossible to obtain during covid. Many thanks to both my graphic designer Ben Davidson of Cadence + Tone in London and web designer Oli Smith of Smiths.Studio in Frome, both multi-disciplinary artists.

I updated my labels very lightly to reflect the changes: they carry the new website URL and minimise the company name.

Henceforth I’m closing all bottles with Diam Origine 5 corks. I’ve chosen Diam because they’re both more sustainable and better for the wine which will reach customers in the best possible condition. My previous cork was a simple agglomerate, which was a good starting point and did the job but I think Diam is a worthwhile upgrade. Many thanks to David Harvey of Raeburn Fine Wines in UK for the recommendation and copious research he kindly shared (also on the subject of capsules).

I also decided to dispense with the capsule since it’s basically rubbish / carbon emission. Once upon a time a capsule helped to keep a wine clean but we live in different conditions today. I used to think a capsule was a nice traditional finish. But the times we live in call into question such traditions. I did put capsules on a few bottles for a couple of markets where required by law.

I prepared and bottled my first Orange wine, 2022. It’s turned out great, with “orange” aromatics, some very gentle tannins but plenty of juicy freshness to balance. I think I hit the sweet spot in terms of time on skins at three weeks – at any rate for this blend.

I’m preparing to bottle my Blanc 2022 this month for release in May. It’s totally different from the Orange, a blast of fresh, salty, mineral yellow and citrus fruit, representing the grapes and the place; being equal parts Grenache Blanc, Clairette and Rolle.

I’m also preparing to bottle my Rosé 2022 at the same time. However, while the Blanc and Orange seem to drink well straight after bottling, I find the Rosé needs time in bottle to develop so I’ll keep it a few months before release and while finishing the 2021 which has gained much in bottle.

Finally, I’ll bottle my Rouge 2021 in May. It’s a story for next time, suffice to say it needed a lot of work but now looks great, a worthy follow up to the 2018 and 2020.

I love to share and talk about music as much wine and food so here’s the new music that’s grabbed and held my attention the last few months. Feel free to skip! I love to use the Tidal streaming service.

James Yorkston: The Great White Sea Eagle. Elegant folk rock, wistful, emotive, warm, engaging.

Native Harrow: Old Kind of Magic. Glorious west coast pop with an English folk twist – or the other way round.

CVC: Get Real. Stands for Church Village Collective. From Wales. Comprises a Bassey (as in Shirley) and a Bradfield (as in Manic SP) and together they’re channelling west coast rock with a bit of Steely Dan. Invigorating.

Samantha Cain: A Small Death. Folk country gets under your skin with ethereal melodies.

Stile Antico: The Golden Renaissance: William Byrd. Choral masterpiece from great English, and Catholic, composer, 1540-1623.

Sunny War: Anarchist Gospel. Bluesy, swinging and melodic pop with rich textures. Sometimes sounds like Joan Armatrading or Tracey Thorn. Gets under your skin.

John Cale: Mercy. A stately chill-out album that sounds like it came from any era from the last forty years, safe for the state of art production values. From former Velvet Underground man. Glad he didn’t retire.

The Lathums: From Nothing To a Little Bit More. Just when I thought there couldn’t be any more great British Pop along comes this young band from Wigan brimming with jangly hooks and a big euphoric sound.

Lankum: False Lankum. Folk rock based on Irish traditional but it never sounded anything like this before: dark and ominous and gripping with huge textures, sounding both ancient and totally contemporary.

Willie Nelson: I Don’t Know a Thing About Love: The Songs of Harlan Howard. Another old guy who just doesn’t know when to retire and keeps making great music. Fortunately. This is a breeze.