Long-term followers will recall the release of our first edition “Jammy Git” – a fabulous Merlot made by our friend Mark Hellyar. Newcomers to BinTwo might quite be wondering why my head has suddenly appeared on a wine label and how I could consider naming a carefully crafted wine something as off-the-wall as “Jammy Git”. Allow me to explain…
In a moment of reflection I found myself pondering the circuitous route that led us into life in Cornwall and ownership of a rather nice little wine shop. Whilst it’s true to say that we’ve worked hard and been willing to take a chance here and there (to take the plunge if you will) we’ve also been very lucky. Lucky with some of the opportunities that arose at just the right moment and lucky with the people we’ve met along the way. And the development of our “Jammy Git” wine range is a case in point.
The name “Jammy Git” is a playful nod to the serendipity that led us into ownership of BinTwo five years ago and the general, all-round jamminess that we have broadly enjoyed since. Beneath the playful branding what Jammy Git wines have in common is a certain authenticity. By which I mean they’re wines that I feel we have a genuine connection with. We’ll have met the winemaker, visited the vineyard, understood their ethos. Maybe even have had a small part in the development of the wine.
I may not always be able to tell you that only one or two barrels of the wine was made and we have them exclusively (although that has happily been the case so far) but I will be able to look you in the eye and tell you that I haven’t bought a blank bottled, mass produced wine and slapped our label on it in order to maximise profits. They’ll always be good, honest wines. Wines that I love that I think you’ll love too. Wines priced fairly with no massive “own label” margins applied. Wines that have been made by winemakers I believe in with an ethos I can get behind. I wouldn’t put my name behind (or indeed my face on) anything else.
How do we find these wines? Some people make a career out of searching the globe for small pockets of extraordinary wines. We just seem to be lucky. With characteristic good luck our first contender for a BinTwo “Jammy Git” wine presented itself to us on our first visit to a Bordeaux vineyard. Jammy Git #1 subsequently flew off the shelves in just a few months. We found the contender for our second edition of Jammy Git much closer to home….
On a chilly January morning we visited Knightor winery, right here in Cornwall, to taste some new wines for the shelves. David the winemaker made an off-the-cuff comment about a blend of Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon that they had in development. My curiosity piqued I asked where they were sourcing the grapes as those ain’t varieties that are grown in UK. “Gloucestershire” came the dead pan reply.
Now, for context, I was born in Gloucestershire (just 15 minutes or so from where these grapes are grown). So I feel qualified and permitted to say that we can be an eccentric bunch. A lovely chap called Tim Chance grows these grapes under two enormous greenhouses in which he used to grow strawberries commercially. He now works full time as a builder and grows grapes instead just for fun. Because why not. He also collects and renovates German half track armoured vehicles from WWII. As I say, we’re an eccentric bunch.
Knightor, always up for a bit of an experiment, snap up all the grapes he can grow and have three vintages in different stages of development. The 2016 is already on release as part of their range but they were scratching their heads about which direction to take with the 2017 and 2018 vintages. Just for fun we started playing with blends in the winery taking samples of each vintage from barrel and trying different combinations. What started as a bit of a geeky wine fun took on a different air when we hit on a blend that led to collective shared look… “hang on… we’re onto something here”.
With a bit more tweaking and refinement we settled on a blend of 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon using 42% of 2018 (which had loads of lovely fruit but was lacking structure) 40% of 2017 (which had structure but was a bit lean and mean) and 18% of 2016 which, having spent two years in oak, added a bit more body, structure and complexity.
Winemakers are often reluctant to blend vintages in this way because, in some parts of the wine loving community, there’s a bit of a stigma around non-vintage blends so they can be hard to sell. It’s ironic really as most Champagnes produced are non-vintage blends and are unarguably seen as premium products. Go figure…
With the Champagne approach in mind we’ve focussed on getting the Jammy Git blend right first and foremost. What’s the best wine we can produce from these three vintages was the exam question we set ourselves and we’re very happy with the results. Light to medium bodied, fresh, juicy, bursting with red fruit flavours and a little hit of spice on the finish. Just 12% abv and vegan friendly to boot! We’ll be adding it to our terrace menu as a lighter summertime red and, by happy good fortune, we think it’s rather lovely slightly chilled.
So there you have it. An English red wine made through chance and a spirit of fun using grapes grown in an eccentric manner vinified and blended into a vintage defying wine by curious innovators and brought to you by us because it’s fun to try news things. All in all it’s very much a Jammy Git story..