SCOTLAND’S first home-grown wine has been described as “undrinkable” by experts.
Christopher Trotter, from Aberdeen, hoped to defy the Scottish climate and set up his own vineyard in Fife three years ago.
There has been international interest in his bid to make wine in one of Europe’s wettest countries, and the first bottles of “Chateau Largo” have been keenly awaited.
But he admits his first vintage from the Upper Largo vineyard has fallen short of expectations.
“It’s not great,” he said. “We have produced a vintage of, shall we say, a certain quality, but I’m confident the next will be much better.
“We have proved we can grow grapes in the Scottish climate.”
He believes his mistake was not chilling the grapes quickly enough after they were picked, which allowed oxidisation to occur.
For his next harvest, he is being encouraged to use dry ice to lock in the fruitiness of the grapes which should produce a better-quality taste.
Richard Meadows, owner of Great Grog Company, an Edinburgh-based wine merchants, was among the first to sample Chateau Largo.
He said: “It has potential. It doesn’t smell fresh but it’s crisp and light and structurally it’s fine.
“It’s not yet drinkable but, that said, I enjoyed it in a bizarre, masochistic way.”
The sherry-like concoction is also said to have “nutty notes” that might complement a “very strong cheese”.
Mr Trotter, who trained at London’s Savoy Hotel as a chef and hotelier, was inspired to plant vines three years ago after a friend suggested global warming would give Fife the ideal climate for grapes in two decades.
Studies have suggested that up to three-quarters of today’s major wine-growing regions will no longer enjoy optimal weather conditions by 2050 due to climate change.
Scotland, however, is expected to enjoy warmer summers in the coming decades, raising hopes that good-quality wines could be produced.
Last year, Mr Trotter’s vines basked in near-tropical sunshine while more than 1,600 acres of French vineyards were hit by extreme weather conditions.
He predicted that the first vintage would be “probably pinkish in colour” with “not much body”, and that it “will be unique but I just don’t know what to expect”.
Despite his initial setback, he remains upbeat.
“My wine will never be like a chablis,” he said, “But the aim is to produce a good-quality table wine and I believe that can be achieved.
“We have had a terrific spring and the vines are looking fantastic.”
Earlier this year, a tea plantation in the Highland hills of Perth and Kinross proved a success, with growing conditions surprisingly good.
The Wee Tea plantation in Amulree has been so successful that this year it won the world’s most prestigious tea award, the Salon du Thé in Paris, and has inspired a number of other Scottish growers to start their own plantations
The tea plant, Camellia sinensis, can survive temperatures as low as -11C for long periods.
Growing tea in the UK is not a new idea – Winston Churchill wanted home-grown tea plantations as part of the “Dig for Victory” campaign in the Second World War.