Win: A trio of Blue Aurora berry wines - worth £40
Brothers Stephen and John Long have turned their family berry farm on the Cambridgeshire border into a burgeoning wine business: Blue Aurora, which produces three blueberry vintages. Alice Ryan raises a glass
When we think 'wine', we traditionally think 'grapes'. So why should we think 'blueberries' instead? The flavour profile of Blue Aurora wines is, we gather, something quite special. . .
Up until 2018 we thought exactly the same, but now we definitely think of blueberries. All our Blue Aurora wines are made purely and simply from 100% English blueberries hand picked at Lutton Farm. We treat the blueberries in exactly the same way you would do grapes, from pressing, to skin contact, fermentation and filtering. Blueberries give a completely unique flavour and aroma sensation.
Introduce us to your vintages: Dusk, Midnight and Ice.
Dusk is our medium-dry blueberry wine. It is made in the same way as a white grape wine and we press 1.5kg of fresh blueberries to make each bottle. It is crisp, fresh and deliciously fruity. The palate is full of dark berries with a crisp acidity balancing the slight residual sweetness. It goes brilliantly with antipasti, tapas, slow cooked lamb or alongside a rich chocolate dessert (11% abv. £11.95/bottle).
Midnight is our intense, full-bodied blueberry wine. Made in the same way as a red grape wine, the juice sits on the blueberry skins in the tank for six weeks to give the wonderful deep, dark colour. This wine also has oak added to give lovely soft, smoky vanilla notes. Intense, oaky and beautifully rich, it goes great with steak, mushroom risotto or a cheese board (11% abv. £11.95/bottle).
Ice is our sweet dessert-style wine. The berries are loaded frozen into the press and pressed hard for between two and half and three days, releasing more juice as they defrost. Each bottle is made from 2kg of frozen blueberries! Fruity and velvety smooth, it’s delicious with cheese and chocolate desserts, or added to sparkling wine or as a digestif (10.5% abv. £17.95/bottle).
You've been farming blueberries for some time, haven't you? Does the Cambridgeshire/Northamptonshire landscape lend itself to the crop?
We’ve been growing berries at Lutton Farm since 1960, but it wasn’t until 2006 that we started growing blueberries. Blueberries are very particular about what they need to grow, and therefore we have had to adapt our conditions to suit them. They like light, free draining, acidic soils with plenty of rich organic matter. We therefore grow all our blueberries in substrate material in pots under polytunnels to ensure the perfect environment.
Is it true the wine-making project started as a way of using blueberries which would otherwise be wasted? How much of your annual crop are you saving that way?
Absolutely: sustainability is at the heart of everything we do at Lutton Farm and that’s where the idea of Blue Aurora first began; as a means of making the most of every single berry grown on the farm. We currently pick around 500 tonnes of blueberries each season, with our grading process typically producing between 15-20% “waste”. The waste is blueberries that are either slightly too small, too soft or too pink for the supermarkets, but otherwise still great quality, great tasting fruit! Since starting our Blue Aurora journey in 2018, we have pressed 37 tonnes of blueberries which may otherwise have gone to waste.
Should we expect non-grape vintages to become the next big thing in the wine world?
We certainly hope so. They offer something truly unique and exciting. There is a real drive at the moment for premium fruit wines and ciders which are made from 100% fruit juice, not from concentrate, and Blue Aurora is the perfect example of this.
It might be our imagination, but blueberries seem to be more popular now than ever! What makes them so appealing?
Definitely. Over the past 10 years, sales of blueberries have rocketed. They are packed full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, which has led them to be widely recognised as a superfood. Also they are really versatile. And, of course, they taste great!
Blue Aurora is giving Velvet readers the chance to win a trio of its wines, Dusk, Midnight and Ice, worth more than £40. To be in the running, click HERE and complete the form using the code ‘AURORA’. The competition will close to entries at midnight on August 20 2021 and the usual Ts and Cs apply.
More by this authorAlice Ryan