Visit and taste at some of the English wineries featured in our 11th Edition – HAMPSHIRE
As summer beckons do your thoughts turn to a long, languorous summer visiting beautiful vineyards; perhaps in France in or Italy; Champagne or Tuscany?
In these uncertain times we hope to tempt you with wonderful opportunities closer to home.
In our latest 11th edition of Wine behind the label we cover 25 English wine producers and will lead you through Hampshire, Gloucestershire and Worcestershire, Kent, East and West Sussex, Surrey, Berkshire and westwards to Dorset, Devon and Cornwall.
We start in Hampshire…
Exton Park Vineyard
Tel: 01489 878788
Producer profile from 11th edition
Exton Park is a relatively new vineyard, set on the ideal south-facing chalklands of East Hampshire, close to the Meon Valley. The terrain here closely resembles the purest belemnite chalk of the Champagne Chardonnay Grands Crus of Avize and Cramant. In 2009, Malcolm Isaac, a local businessman, having sold his successful watercress company, bought Exton. At first, he sold all the fruit to Coates & Seely, as both the vineyards were on the same geological structure. Two years later, Malcolm decided he wanted to make his own wine, with the ambition to make the best sparkling wine in the country. He has made a cracking start, with careful plantings of 55 acres of the three classic Champagne varieties, and investment in a new winery with two Bucher presses to allow the harvest to enter the vats as quickly as possible. Malcolm also contacted the very talented Corinne Seely to be his winemaker. She swiftly bought in small tanks so that each plot could be vinified separately. The entry-level Exton Brut is among the best on the market, a unique expression of the chalky terroir – crystal clear gold verging on green; lemony, hint of passion fruit, the mineral stamp of its place. The Rosé is a sparkling pale pink with a surprising depth of flavour, the 30% Meunier adding a touch of toasted spiciest to the 70% structured Pinot Noir. The Blanc de Noirs, pure Pinot Noir, has a lovely colour of ripe golden wheat, a touch of brioche and linden tree flowers, round and generous in the mouth. Versatile, as good with roast chicken as ragoût of seafood. The Pinot Meunier Rosé from 100% Pinot Meunier is a bit unique in as much as a very fine wine has been exclusively made from this varietal. It’s full and fruity with nuances of stone fruits and eastern spices. The Vintage Blanc de Blancs displays really gentle bubbles underlying the finesse accompanied with a ripe creaminess balanced with a good dose of acidity. (ME/NB)
Exton Park Vineyard are hosting The Vineyards of Hampshire 7th annual wine festival ‘FIZZ FEST’ 2019 on 21st July. You can find all the details here. A fun opportunity to taste their wines.
Since November 2018 Exton Park Vineyard has built a long standing partnership with the Hampshire born, two Michelin Star Chef, Simon Rogan. They have designed a special ‘Exton Park with Simon Rogan’ label for the Rosé NV. If you are visiting the Lake District this summer you could book a table at Simon Rogan’s l’Enclume restaurant where you can taste by the glass.
You will find an online shop and stockist locations on their website.
Hattingley Valley Vineyard
Tel: +44 (0)1256 389 188
Producer profile from 11th edition
Hattingley Valley is the realisation of a long dream of proprietor Simon Robinson, a lawyer who escaped dusty legal casework for the rural idyll of East Hampshire. An ambitious project, Hattingley Valley runs to 24 hectares of vineyards in two sites, the coffers topped up with contract winemaking work for other English estates. There’s been headline news stories about a linkup with Pommery Champagne venturing onto English acres. That project seems to have gone quiet for now. Another initiative is admirably enlightened: In 2016, Robinson introduced the first apprentice scheme in the UK in partnership with the Worship Company of Vintners; recruits on the two year full-time scheme combine practical work in the winery with study at Plumpton (wine & viticulture ) College Nr Lewes. Hattingley’s main cuvées are overwhelmingly from the three authorised Champagne varieties, a special characteristic being a subtle touch of wine fermented in aged Burgundy oak pièces (228 litres). The Classic Brut Reserve is a blend of several harvests with 18% reserve wines- partial malolactic conversion and a portion fermented in old burgundy oak to integrate English high acidity results in a harmonious wine for all occasions and tables – inviting notes of baked apple and patisserie. Yet long and pure with a moderate dosage of 7g/l. The 2014 Rosé from the best recent vintage is made from Pinot Noir and Meunier. Eight per cent of the cuvée is aged in old white burgundy casks is an impressive combination of subtle salmon pink hue, delicate yet intense aromas and a winning softness of mouth feel without losing length and definition of flavour . Fine winemaking. The flagship Vintage dated King’s Cuvée from the home vineyard is a ver limited edition release of their finest Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, 100 percent oak fermented, then aged for 4 months in old Burgundy cask. A lovely softness in the mouth enfolds purity of fruit, made more complex by just the right amount of autolysis. There are still magnums available of the 2011 Blanc de Blanc. A Indian summer well into October created some great Chardonnay. This is one of them. (ME)
Hattingley’s informative and engaging tours must be booked in advance – see here or call the number above to discuss a private booking. Check the website for various options from June to August. Cost: £15.00 per head. Price includes an in-depth tour of the state-of-the-art winery explaining the production processes involved to create traditional method sparkling wine followed by a tasting of their current range. The experience usually lasts around 1.5 – 2 hours and the friendly Hattingley Valley experts will answer any questions you may have throughout the guided tour. Booking is essential as spaces are limited to 16 guests.
Very useful directions here. If you are not local or passing close by you can let the train take the strain. You will find station information, taxi ride timing and a recommended local taxi firm to book in advance!
Hattingley are participating in The Vineyards of Hampshire 7th annual wine festival ‘FIZZ FEST’ 2019 on 21st July. You can find all the details here.
Hattingley provides a wonderful venue for corporate and private events. See here.
“The Tasting Room provides a relaxed and attractive venue for those wishing to hold an informal reception, conference or sit-down meal for up to 20 guests. It is ideal for corporate “think-tanks” and training sessions. We are happy to arrange refreshments with anything from tea, coffee and water to a buffet or three course meal. Alternatively just down the lane, is the award-winning Yew Tree Inn“. “The venue is fully-equipped with kitchen and bathroom facilities; it is also stocked with all the necessary technology and presentation tools to make your event a resounding success“.
You can purchase their range of sparkling wines online.
In 2009, Jacob Leadley left a regular job in the City to become a winemaker. He started in an ideal place as a trainee at Hattingley Valley, in the protected soils of East Hampshire, where the chalky soils are the nearest there is in Southern England to the Belemnite classic chalk of the Côte des Blancs. After stints in Champagne and New Zealand, in 2018 Leadley released his first vintage, the 2015 a classic mix of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and most interestingly, a fine strain of Meunier which seems to thrive in the cool sheltered climate around Alresford, a mere 20 minutes drive east of Winchester. There is a judicious use of oak and extended time on lees gives complexity and mineral depth perfectly balanced by a stunningly elegant mouthfeel. Class in a glass. Intriguingly, the vineyard’s name derives from the black chalk with which the old masters used to sketch ideas on canvas before creating a masterpiece. If that sounds a bit expansive, the greatest surprise is how quite,,exceptional the wines are , now joined from 2019 by the Wild Rosé 2016 vintage. 41% Pinot Noir 18% Meunier 21%Chardonnay. Part fermented in stainless steel, partly in oak. Conventional dosage. Leadley comments that “early warmth in April was followed by a hard frost at the end of the month, cool flowering and cool July. But a late pre-harvest surge in temperatures allied to the low yields gave an ideal ripeness of fruit essential to Rosé”. In the end, this is a scintillating wine with a higher than usual % of Pinot Noir ensuring a decent life and Meunier giving stuffing and palate feel. A brilliant debut. One of the best English rosés. The small batch production is currently 10,000 bottles but is planned to increase to 50,00 bottles by 2024. Well distributed already locally, in London and St Andrews. (ME)
Although tasting is not available on site, you can catch up with all Black Chalk’s news here to find out what they are up to and where you will find Black Chalk wines!
Also, as the newest of 8 members, Black Chalk are participating in The Vineyards of Hampshire 7th annual wine festival ‘FIZZ FEST’ Festival 2019 on 21st July. You can find all the details here.
Purchase from the online shop.
Read the full profiles with wines and ratings
Various options here! You can obtain a digital version of the full 11th edition, if coffee table books appeal you can order the hardback print version or you can join the Club behind the label which will entitle you to download the digital version free. Also with membership you will be able to access other offers – aspire to Michelin Star style cooking this summer and try all Sonia Blech’s mouth watering recipes!