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 changes.
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 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.”