Earlier this year I met Angela in the UK for a pub lunch to discuss how the vintage was coming along and timings for the 2013 blending. It was then she broke the news to me that, after 40 years of winemaking around the globe, she was finally retiring. I knew this would be coming at some point but it made me feel slightly uneasy that the lady behind Mirabeau (and without whom we certainly wouldn’t have enjoyed our successes) would soon be leaving us.
But I needn’t have felt uneasy – for two good reasons. Firstly, Angela explained that she had already found a winemaker to replace her – another MW (Master of Wine), Jo Ahearne. Jo was trained in Australia and, like Angela had plenty of ‘new world’ winemaking experience (more on this later). Jo had also been a senior winemaker for M&S and her last job had been as the wine buyer at Harrods.
The second reason was that Angela was going be there at the blending of the new vintage where she would be able to ‘hand over the reins’ to Jo, so that she would be aware of the ‘science’ behind the style. Not that I needed to have worried in the slightest, as Jo is an excellent winemaker and blender.
2013 has been a second tough vintage in a row. The quality is excellent but the quantity is again extremely low. We were hit by heavy rains during flowering, a critical time as this is when the plant pollinates, resulting in very small bunches of grapes. Then we had some more heavy rains later in the year and although the Mistral did its best to dry off the damp vines, there were the inevitable areas where mould set in and so these grapes were rejected. Finally the harvest was at least two weeks later than usual, so we were left on the edge of our seats, wondering what the quality would be like and having to work super-efficiently to get the wine ready for Rosé season next year.
In spite of all these challenges the 2013 vintage is superb. Lots of ripe, fresh fruit and zingy acidity means we had the ingredients to make an excellent wine again this year and with our first bottling planned for the middle of January, it won’t be too long until you get a chance to taste the fruits of our labours. Thank you for all your amazing support in 2013 and here’s to a fantastic new vintage that we’ll all enjoy.