Hampshire-based winery, Black Chalk, has released the 2020 vintage of its two sparkling wines – “Classic” and “Wild Rose”; the first vintage to be made as estate wines. Black Chalk, which was founded in 2018, acquired four Test Valley vineyard sites totalling 12 hectares at the beginning of January 2020, and completed the winery build in mid-September, just before the first grapes from harvest were brought in. The vineyards comprise 36 different rootstocks all of which are handpicked and vinified separately before deciding on the final blends. The 2020 vintage also marks an increase of 56% in volume of these two wines which will satisfy the growing demand from independents and the on-trade in the UK and across its key international markets, including Japan and Scandinavia.
The new wines were launched to the UK trade and media at London’s Oxeye; founder and chef Sven-Hanson Britt has championed English wine and British seasonal produce since opening in 2021. Commenting on the release of the 2020s at the launch, winemaker & CEO, Jacob Leadley said: “Each new vintage is essentially a time capsule and Black Chalk’s 2020 was particularly memorable for so many reasons. We were picking our own grapes from our own vineyards for the first time which was incredibly exciting, but it was set against a backdrop of extreme uncertainty. The winery build had been somewhat chaotic thanks to Lockdown and was only just finished in time – 48 hours before picking was underway. But growing conditions for the 2020 season were near perfect, and the quality was the best I had ever seen in 10 years making wine in England.”
Assistant winemaker, Zoë Driver, added: “Everything was early; Spring was early with above-average temperatures and unusually high sunshine hours – more than double the norm. The vines rocketed out of dormancy and saw budburst more than two weeks earlier than usual. The summer was warm, and largely dry – breaking records for the highest sustained temperatures – and resulted in our earliest picking to date such was the ripeness of the grapes. It was completed by 10 October, around five days earlier than the harvest usually begins. Alongside the winery build, managing acidity was our big challenge in 2020, to best showcase the extraordinary purity of fruit.”
Alongside the release of the 2020s, Black Chalk is launching its first still Chardonnay. “Little White Lie” marks a departure for Black Chalk; this inaugural 2022 vintage has been made from Kent
grapes, from a chalk subsoil vineyard on the Kent North Downs. “Last summer’s record-breaking temperatures resulted in really ripe Chardonnay, and when I was offered this parcel it was impossible to turn down,” said Leadley. “When we first embarked on the Black Chalk journey, we were keen to explore other territories and innovative winemaking techniques, so this limited-edition wine firmly fits with our original ethos”. Little White Lie 2022 was fermented in stainless steel, with 16% in new French oak. There was no malolactic fermentation, and this has resulted in a super fresh and vibrant wine, with pure, balanced fruit. Only 2,600 bottles were made, and it will have an RRSP of £33.00.
Availability is via Black Chalk’s UK agent, Graft Wine (firstname.lastname@example.org). Dancer in Pink 2022 – the estate’s still rose, which first launched in 2020 – has also been released. RRP is £22.
The 2020s and Dancer in Pink 2022 will be available from 1 April and Little White Lie will be released in late May.
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