English natural wine producer announces new partnership

Wiltshire’s Offbeat Wines has partnered with London-based natural wine distributor Under the Bonnet as it releases three new wines: a red and a white pet nat, plus an amber wine.

Image: David Charbit

Offbeat, which was founded by winemaker Daniel Ham, moved its base to a biodynamic farm, owned by Hugo Stewart, co-founder of the biodynamic Les Clos Perdus in South West France, earlier this year.

Ham has now launched three new wines, a total of 2,000 bottles, which will be distributed by Under the Bonnet. Ham said “With their focus on natural wines from smaller producers, this was a natural fit for Offbeat and we are proud to become part of their family alongside other producers that we really respect and can learn from.”

The grapes, which have been grown in Devon and Hampshire, undergo spontaneous fermentation and wines are left unfiltered and unfined.

The new releases include Mind Over Matter 2019, a white pet nat made from a field blend of Siegerrebe and Solaris grown by Kathy Archer in her vineyard outside Ottery Saint Mary in Devon. The grapes are partially foot-trodden before being racked into an amphora. Ham has also used Solaris from Archer’s vineyard to make Skinny Dip 2018, described as an English amber wine. The grapes were destemmed before being transferred to an 800-litre amphora to ferment. After a three-month maceration, the skins were pressed, with the press wine added back to the free run. The wine was then aged on its lees in stainless steel for 10 months before bottling.

Red pet nat Wild Juice Chase 2019, however, was made from 35-year-old Triomphe d’Alsace vines grown in the Test Valley in Hampshire.

Image: Mark Newton

Ham previously told the drinks business that he works with growers, helping them to manage their vines more sustainably, with less of a reliance on man-made chemicals. Archer’s vineyard in Devon is managed using organic principles, without use of pesticides and herbicides, but is yet to gain certification.

Since working with Ham, Little Waddon Vineyard and Breezy Ridge, both in Dorset, are also undergoing organic conversion. It is estimated that there are around 30 organic producers in the UK.

Sustainability is also key in the winery, with Offbeat’s wines packaged in lightweight bottles and using 100% recycled materials for labels and packaging. The labels were designed by Manchester School of Art graduate Stephanie Leighton.

Ham is now hoping to increase output to produce around 10,000 bottles a year under the Offbeat Wines label. This will constitute a third of the winery’s total 30,000 bottle production, the rest made under contract for other growers.

The biodynamic vineyard adjacent to the winery will go into production in the coming years.

Ham has also installed a traditional Coquard basket press, which he shipped from Champagne. Now boasting capacity for barrel-ageing, he hopes to extend his Offbeat range with some skin contact whites, an easy-drinking red, and some traditional method fizz in the future.

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