A collaborative group of eight English wine producers, the Vineyards of Hampshire, gathered on Wednesday 13 February at one of London’s finest private members’ clubs, 67 Pall Mall, in St. James’s, to promote the array of distinctive styled still and sparkling wines produced in the county to over 100 trade buyers and wine writers.
Having previously worked for fellow member Hattingley Valley, Black Chalk’s founder and winemaker Jacob Leadley was keen for his family’s new English wine project to be involved in the Vineyards of Hampshire initiative from the start.
“Not only is there a real community feel, with everyone working to boost the region as a whole, but the events we are able to put on collectively surpass anything we could do as an individual,” said Andrew Seden, sales director. “There were certainly more people at the tasting than we had expected; the wines went down very well and we were pleased with the feedback, especially for the new vintage.”
On tasting was the estate’s 2015 Classic, the 2015 Wild Rose and the 2016 Wild Rose, which will officially launch at ProWein on 17 March 2019. Black Chalk’s range is produced with fruit sourced from Hampshire’s top growers and is distributed across the UK by Red Squirrel Wines.
Located in the Test Valley, Cottonworth produce 10,000 bottles of sparkling wine per year from its 30-acre site. The wines are made by Emma Rice at Hattingley Valley, with the majority of the estate’s fruit also sold to the estate for use in its own label wines.
“The winemaking team at Hattingley is excellent and the success of Cottonworth really relies on them,” said Federico Firino. “Personally I think the wines, benefiting from 34 months’ lees aging and one year on the cork for the Classic Cuvée NV and 30 months’ lees aging and eight months on cork for the Sparkling Rosé, are really showing at their best. Our wines are distributed into London by Berkmann Cellars and over the last year we have also been more proactive in getting local businesses on board with the brand.”
Looking ahead, Cottonworth is anticipating the release of 2,000 bottles of its 2014, Blanc de Blancs.
Planted in 1988 before English producers started to focus on the Champagne trio, Danebury Vineyards, located near Stockbridge, produces some delightfully unusual still and sparkling wines. “Our vines our old, so the yield is not enormous, but the quality is incredible,” said Caroline Stevens, sales and marketing manager. “We produce about 10,000 bottles per year, which are made by skilled winemaker Vince Gower at Stanlake Park, who really understands our fruit and our house style.”
Alongside the 2016 Madeleine Angevine and 2014 Cossack, which have been reviewed by Matthew Jukes, see page 26, Danebury was showing its 2016 Schönburger and 2016 Reserve, a blend of 30% Madeleine Angevine, 30% Schönburger, 38% Auxerrois and 2% Pinot Gris.“Since the last tasting we have taken on a new distributor for the London markets,” said Caroline. “It is quite a big move for us and we are excited to see what opportunities working with Wineservice will present.”
The subject of this month’s Editor’s Visit, see page 20, this dynamic estate focuses on crafting consistently fresh, vibrant non-vintage wines produced exclusively with Chardonnay, Pinot noir and Pinot meunier grown on the 55-acre site. Head winemaker Corinne Seely has poured her passion for the distinct category of English sparkling wine, and many years’ experience of producing wine around the world, into the range and has even created a wine specifically suited for Britain’s friendly, social, wine loving public. In his monthly wine column, Matthew Jukes has reviewed the estate’s Blanc de Noirs NV, see page 26.
England’s oldest commercial vineyard, established in 1952 by Major General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones, Hambledon has sought to produce premium quality English Sparkling wine exclusively from chardonnay, Pinot noir and Meunier since 1999. Following a large planting in March 2018, the estate now comprises 200 acres of land under vine.
All wines, which are available to the trade through Fields, Morris and Verdin, are produced in a gravity-fed winery by the traditional method with an emphasis on malolactic fermentation and extended lees-ageing.
Managing over 24 hectares of vines across two sites in Lower Wield, Hattingley Valley produces a range of still and sparkling wines, as well as an Aqua Vitae, which is five-times distilled Chardonnay from the 2015 vintage.
The use of oak barrels to ferment a small proportion of the wines each year has allowed the estate to develop a distinctive style. Aside from the NV Classic Reserve and the 2014 Sparkling Rosé, it was the Hattingley Valley 2013 Demi-Sec which really stood out at the London tasting.
“The Demi-Sec always attracts a lot of interest because it is so different,” said Bex Fisher, marketing and events manager. “Our 2013 Blanc de Blancs, benefiting from four years on lees, was also really popular and we are planning to launch it imminently.”
As well as working on a one million bottle capacity production and storage building, the estate is also looking forward increasing its availability of tours and events in 2019.
Since the last trade tasting, Jenkyn Place has planted an additional 2,000 Pinot noir vines, to allow them to make a wider range of sparkling wine styles each year. The wines, which are made by Dermot Sugrue at Wiston Estate, include a 2013 Classic Cuvée, a 2014 Sparkling Rosé and a 2010 Blanc de Noirs.
“We consistently receive a lot of wonderful comments about our Blanc de Noirs,” said Camilla Jennings, sales and marketing manager. “People have been tasting it for a while now and they are always shocked by the acidity in such a mature wine.” Currently undergoing dosage trials, Jenkyn Place will be launching its Blanc de Blancs in late spring, early summer.
Grapes grown on the fifth-generation family farm in the South Downs National Park are sent to Hattingley Valley where they are transformed into a range of award-winning sparkling wines by Emma Rice and her team.
Showing its 2014 Classic and 2015 Blanc de Noirs, Raimes believes that London trade tasting offers a wonderful opportunity for wine writers and the trade to build a picture of the diversity of wines coming from Hampshire.
“We had fantastic feedback over the day, especially for our Blanc de Noirs,” said Augusta Raimes. “As a group, we were thrilled with the number of people who attended the tasting this year and the overall consensus seemed to be that the quality in the room is very high.” In 2019 the estate will be releasing its first sparkling rosé and will be participating in the group’s annual wine trail through the summer months. By promoting the trail on set days throughout the summer the scheme gives smaller, independent estates, who are not normally open to the public, the opportunity to provide a cellar door experience.