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Raimes Vineyard

It would be a big mistake to dismiss Raimes due to their relatively small size. From their 17 acres of vines planted in two fields a few hundred yards apart in the varied ecosystem of this corner of Hampshire, the Raimes are producing English Sparkling Wines that demand attention.

Augusta (Gus) and Robert Raimes are the fifth generation to have farmed their land, and have been growers all their lives. Understanding of soil and cultivation is in their blood. The diversification some ten years ago into growing grapes and becoming English wine producers, adding to the wheat, barley and cattle that they already grew and raised, has clearly been a successful one.

When I visited in April 2019, the vines were looking immaculate, two canes per vine tied down, arched pendelbogen style to control the vigour at the cane ends, with the buds just starting to open – unfortunately, as it happened, with a run of frosty nights forecast. Bougies – paraffin wax candles – sat in the vineyard, ready to be lit if the temperature did dip too low. A third cane per vine had been pruned but not tied down, an insurance policy, although one that Gus was not yet convinced was worth the extra effort.

The classic Champagne grapes are employed, on classic Champagne soil, to classic effect. Raimes’ grapes are turned into English Sparkling Wine just up the road at Hattingley Valley in the extremely capable hands of winemaker Emma Price. Gus explained that the Raimes stayed involved at every step of the process but felt that the combination of Raimes’ viticultural expertise and Hattingley’s vinification know-how complemented each other perfectly.

I asked Gus where she stood on the question of nomenclature – is English Sparkling Wine the best name? “I am from the Alan Sugar school on this,” responded Gus, “It does what it says on the tin. Besides, if there was a better alternative, people would have agreed on it by now”.

So, what of the wines? If you like Champagne, then you will love Raimes’ wines, finding a rich but balanced expression of ESW in your glass. The grapes have been coaxed to an excellent level of ripeness, leading to sufficient fruit in the glass to balance the characteristically high acidity. Please see the Raimes’ vineyard page for details of the Raimes’ wines we stock.

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