Last week, the vineyards of Hampshire held a tasting showcasing some of the top sparkling wines from this county. Of course, Hampshire is, as a county, a political boundary and doesn’t recognise specific soils or climates, but it does have within its boundaries some very good places for growing wine grapes, and quite a bit of chalk. There were some really superb wines on show, and the average quality – as you can see from my scores – was very high. Here are my notes.
Jacob Leadley was previously winemaker for Hattingley Valley. He’s now gone out on his own making Black Chalk wines, sourcing grapes from top growers in Hampshire.
Black Chalk Classic 2015 Hampshire, England
49% Chardonnay, 34% Pinot Meunier, 17% Pinot Noir. 12% alcohol. Focused and bright with lovely citrus, a hint of apple and good acidity. Linear and fine with real elegance. 94/100
Black Chalk Wild Rosé 2015 Hampshire, England
41% Pinot Noir, 38% Pinot Meunier, 21% Chardonnay. Pale pink in colour, this is taut, lean and precise with crisp, linear citrus fruit with some red cherry hints. Very nice focus to this wine. 92/100
Black Chalk Wild Rosé 2016 Hampshire, England
Bright and linear with lively citrus and grapefruit, with some herbs and nice precision. Subtle red cherry notes. Elegant style. 92/100
A relatively new project based on three family-owned vineyards covering 30 acres in the Test Valley. Vines are planted on chalk-rich soils and have done really well in competitions, notably the International Wine Challenge.
Cottonworth Classic Cuvée NV Hampshire, England
This is based on the 2014 vintage. 46% Pinot Noir, 45% Chardonnay, 9% Pinot Meunier, with a dosage of 6 g/l. Very linear and bright with a real sense of refinement, and some subtle creamy hints under the citrus fruit. Has delicacy and precision. 93/100
Cottonworth Sparkling Rosé NV Hampshire, England
48% Pinot Meunier, 47% Pinot Noir, 5% Pinot Precoce. Dosage 7 g/l. Refined with lovely pure citrus fruit and subtle raspberry and cherry hints. Such focus and elegance here with nice weight, but also freshness and delicacy. 93/100
With 22 hectares of vines (55 acres) and a state-of-the-art winery, Exton Park has been turning out some very smart wines. Winemaking is in the hands of Corinne Seely, and the vineyard is planted on the pure chalk of the South Downs. Corinne doesn’t do malolactic fermentation, so the wines have a real keenness to them. Pinot Meunier has been a big success so Corinne says they are going to plant another hectare of it.
Exton Park Brut Reserve NV Hampshire, England
2 years on the on the lees and 2 years on cork. 60% Pinot Noir, 40% Chardonnay. Taut and keen with high acidity and some subtle toasty notes. Brisk and linear with lemon and herb character on the palate. Very juicy. 91/100
Exton Park Blanc de Noirs NV Hampshire, England
100% Pinot Noir. Linear and taut with high acidity. Precise with some subtle toast, cherry and citrus characters. Pure, linear and very fine. 92/100
Exton Park Blanc de Noirs 2013 Hampshire, England
An experimental bottling (just 400 bottles) from a single block of Pinot Noir. Vivid, intense and taut with very high acidity. Piercing lemon and redcurrant notes. Very expressive. 90/100
Exton Park Blanc de Blancs 2011 Hampshire, England
This had 3.5 years on lees and 3 on cork. It’s complex, toasty and a bit creamy with nice precise lemony notes, some herbs and a juicy, linear finish. Powerful with complex herb and toast character. 93/100
Exton Park Brut Rosé NV Hampshire, England
70% Pinot Noir, 30% Pinot Meunier. Very delicate with sappy, fine green notes on the nose. Lovely precision on the palate with cranberry, raspberry and sweet citrus. Fine. 92/100
Exton Park Pinot Meunier Rosé NV Hampshire, England
Sappy and herby with refined cherry fruit and an appealing herbal twist. This is a delicate, pure wine that has a lot of character. 92/100
The core of the Hambledon project is the soil, which is chalk, but not just any chalk. This chalk was part of the Paris basin, and was formed on the seabed some 65 million years ago. It’s the same chalk that is found in the Côtes des Blancs in Champagne, and has a high Belemnite content. With some new plantings in 2018, there are now 200 acres under vine at Hambledon, and the grapes are processed in a beautifully equipped gravity-fed winery. Malolactic fermentation is practised here.
Hambledon Classic Cuvée NV Hampshire, England
Based on the 2014 vintage, this is 40% Chardonnay, 31% Pinot Meunier and 29% Pinot Noir. Dosage 7 g/litre. This is really refined. The acidity is pronounced but it is elegant acidity that integrates well with the subtly creamy, herbal citrus fruit, with a twist of apricot and mandarin richness in the background. Very fine. 92/100
Hambledon Classic Cuvée Rosé NV Hampshire, England
90% Chardonnay, 10% Pinot Noir, 10g/l dosage. Pale pink in colour. Sappy with nice green hints and some leafiness. Nice bright citrus and cherry notes with some redcurrant. Very lively and expressive. 91/100
Hambledon Première Cuvée NV Hampshire, England
73% Chardonnay, 3% Pinot Meunier, 24% Pinot Noir. 7 g/l dosage. 46 months on less and base wine is 14% barrel fermented. This is compact and refined with nice subtle citrus and pear fruit. Beautiful acidity with a lovely linear, focused palate and subtle toastiness. There’s some richness as well as the freshness, and this is very fine. 94/100
With 24 hectares (60 acres) of vines across two sites in Lower Wield, Hattingley Valley is a major player in the English sparkling wine scene. Their first vineyard was planted in 2008, so these vines are beginning to get some maturity, and the wines are made in their own dedicated winery. A proportion of the wines are barrel fermented.
Hattingley Valley Classic Reserve NV Hampshire, England
Base wine is 2014 with 18% reserve wines. 50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, 19% Pinot Meunier, 1% Pinot Gris. 7 g/l dosage, 24 months on lees. Lively and bright with an appley edge to the crisp citrus fruit. Very expressive with keen acidity and lovely focus. 90/100
Hattingley Valley Rose 2014 Hampshire, England
60% Pinot Noir, 38% Pinot Meunier, 2% Pinot Noir Precoce. 8 g/l dosage, 24 months on lees. Delicate and expressive with lovely citrus fruit and some toast and subtle cherry notes. Very lively and balanced. 91/100
Hattingley Valley Demi-Sec 2013 Hampshire, England
59% Pinot Noir, 36% Pinot Meunier, 5% Pinot Noir Precoce. 35 g/l dosage, 3 years on lees. Rich nose leads to a palate with sweet appley fruit and some spice. Complex, broad and off dry, this is really effective. 90/100
Hattingley Valley Blanc de Blancs 2013 Hampshire, England
100% Chardonnay, 6 g/l dosage, 4 years on lees. Fresh and vivid with nice purity and some lemony fruit, with a hint of apple. Subtle herbal notes in the background. Fine and nicely expressive. 92/100
Simon Bladon moved from Yorkshire to Hampshire in 1997, buying Jenkyn Place, which in previous life had been an important hop farm. He planted his first vines in 2004, and after three subsequent rounds of planting, the vineyard is now complete. The wines are made by Dermot Sugrue.
Jenkyn Place Classic Cuvée 2013 Hampshire, England
62% Chardonnay, 24% Pinot Noir, 14% Pinot Meunier. 9 g/l dosage. Fresh and bright with vivid citrus fruit. Has a very lively character with some herbal notes. Such precision and focus with a juicy personality. 90/100
Jenkyn Place Sparkling Rosé 2014 Hampshire, England
52% Pinot Noir, 32% Chardonnay, 16% Pinot Meunier. Dosage 8 g/l. Pale pink in colour, this is juicy and fresh with subtle cherry and citrus fruit with some fine herbal notes. Very lively. 90/100
Jenkyn Place Blanc de Noir 2010 Hampshire, England
50% Pinot Noir, 50% Pinot Meunier. 7 g/l dosage. This is really lively and expressive with juicy lemony fruit. Has great acidity with some fine herbal hints. Bracing, with keen acidity. 91/100
Augusta and Robert Raimes are fifth generation farmers in the South Downs, and have planted grapes on the chalky soils of their family farm. The wines are made by Emma Rice at Hattingley Valley, and the results are impressive.
Raimes Classic 2014 Hampshire, England
51% Chardonnay, 29% Pinot Noir, 20% Pinot Meunier. Gold Medal in the 2019 International Wine Challenge. Lively and fresh with nice citrus and pear fruit. Very juicy, Vivid with some lovely fine herbal hints on the linear palate. Very good. 92/100
Raimes Blanc de Noirs 2015 Hampshire, England
69% Pinot Noir, 31% Pinot Meunier. Compact, taut and lively with linear citrus fruit. Has herby hints as well as a bit of cherry. Very linear and delicious. 91/100