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Monthly Report - December 2015

Christmas Crackers…


Just a short monthly report this month as both Tim and I were abroad with family and the vineyard has been left in the capable hands of my mother and daughter Hannah.  Upon my return in early January all is well, with the vines handling the cooling down post November’s warmth and it looks like a solid vintage out there with little to no pest or disease pressure.


The Merlot and Cabernet Franc have set a small to medium crop this year with flowering finished with the bunches being moderately sized. The Shiraz is looking good and after getting the wires up and a further de-legging of all the extra growth off the trunks in December – but though it grows like a weed it is difficult to get the vines to grow evenly so we have our fingers crossed it will settle during January.


As I mentioned at the start of the report, Tim and I spent our Christmas break abroad with Tim in Japan and me in England.  I actually have not spent time in England since 1988 when I had a 10 month period in the country, so going back was going to be interesting.  Also by going back mid-winter you really get a feel for the tone of the country, as well as the people, as you tend to spend a fair bit of time in pubs and cafes.


England looked glorious upon our arrival, lovely sunny day with green fields rolling away, intersected by hedgerows and with church steeples dotting the skyline.  Perhaps the mildest and wettest December on record, we felt a bit disappointed to know that we would not be seeing snow this trip; but we did avoid the big wet and got to do as much sightseeing as was practical (considering nearly every attraction is closed and you had 7 hours of daylight).  Our village for the duration was a little town called Isleham (pronounced Eyes Lamb), and it was near Newmarket and Ely in Cambridgeshire.  So in no particular order here are some of my mental notes on the state of the nation:


  • London rules everything, as well as being the fantasy town for millions of tourists that flock to the city centre.  Nothing can be entered without queuing and every language on the planet can be heard on the streets.  Very much different to my memories of all those years ago.

  • Regional accents are as strong as ever.  I just assumed that globalization would peg it back, but no.

  • Nearly damn impossible to find a wine retailer unless you are a local.  And when you do find one prepared to be disappointed.  It lends itself to an internet selling environment and many of the people I spoke to who said they enjoyed fine wine said that they buy wine over the net probably monthly.

  • The country feels neither go ahead or going backwards – almost stagnant is the best way to describe it.  The constant barrage of football news and games makes you think they have drugged the population by 24/7 sports and betting sites.

  • You have to own a dog.  It is the rules for 99% of the population as this is perhaps the only exercise most folk get.  Walking to the pub each evening meant walking past 20 dogs and their owners – I think this alone has stopped an obesity epidemic.

  • English Ale is still bloody good – though often I was the only one drinking it as locals prefer lagers by a large margin.

  • Everyone is still very polite, and little things like a single queue for 2 windows at the train station, or the information officer coming out of the glass cage to write on your timetable which are the preferred trains, is great to see.

  • Cost wise – expensive in reality.  The supermarkets of Sainsbury and Waitrose have cheap home brand stuff I guess, but overall from the price of fuel (£1.05 per litre), to public transport, to clothes and accessories proved to be a bit more costly than here.


We did take a side trip into Barcelona and I will talk through that next month.  Still a bit disappointed there was no winter landscape (unlike Tim and family in Hokkaido, Japan who were probably buried in a metre of snow!!).  But it was a pleasant break for my wife, Abigail and I, and on the bright side our quotient of fried chips for 2016 has already been achieved!

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Reading Dostoyevsky...


Settled weather...


After a very warm November, December settled into a lovely month of clear skies and lesser temperatures.  This cooler trend has been reflected in the reduced minimums with 4.9°C being the lowest daily December minimum for over 10 years and quite unusual when looking at the past five years.  The cooling sea breeze is still arriving by midday to 2pm and this takes a lot of the heat out of the vineyard and this preserves the flavors in the grapes, which is key.  Rainfall was negligible and only at the start of the month, hardly worth mentioning.


The numbers for the month and last year’s figures are provided below:


December 2015:        

Avg Maximum Temp          24.9°C

Daily Max recorded            35.0°C


Avg Minimum Temp           12.3°C

Daily Min recorded               4.9°C


Rainfall:                               13.6mm


The maximum temperature average was again higher than the 2014 maximum, with minimums quite similar between the two years.  Rainfall was average for December, but more than last year as on the 6-7 December 2015 there was a rain event (12.2mm) which did not occur in 2014.

December 2014:        

Avg Maximum Temp           23.7°C

Daily Max recorded             30.0°C


Avg Minimum Temp            11.8°C

Daily Min recorded                6.9°C


Rainfall:                               2.7mm


A new year begins…


A vintage is racing up to meet us with the warm vintage we have had to date and it means lots of details to square away.  The 2014 reds will be bottled and this year we have a few magnums to add to the list of bottles to buy.  Barrels will be turning up to the winery and the nets will go out earlier this year to avoid the birds that may be as voracious as ever.  We do hope you had a great Christmas break and are looking forward a productive and excellent 2016.


As always if you have any queries about what’s been written or about wine in general, do not hesitate to contact us either by email or and we’ll do our very best to answer any question.





Mark Gifford

Blue Poles Vineyard

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