Free read from from ESW2020 : Black Chalk

English Sparkling Wine 2020 has been available for a couple of weeks now. If you haven't had a read yet, here's something from inside to whet your appetite. Jacob Leadley's Wild Rose 2016 featured in the ESW2020 Top Twenty from 2019.

A few key #ESW2020 stats:
-32 producers
-over 130 wines, fully up-to-date with current releases tasted in autumn 2019
-in-depth profiles and interviews
-new articles
-new analysis of medal-winning wines
-A Buyer's Guide with selections for a range of palates and preferences
-30,000 words of essential reading for any followers of Sparkling Wine!



English Sparkling Wine 2020 (PDF)

Black Chalk

Hampshire, Négociant until 2019 vintage. Grower-Producer from 2020 vintage onwards. 

Jacob Leadley left his post at Hattingley Valley in 2018 to focus exclusively on his own label, Black Chalk. From 2015 until 2019 the grapes were bought in, but things have taken a different direction in 2019. Leadley and his business partners found themselves with an opportunity to take on the vineyards at Cottonworth from 2020. With potential winery space available on-site it seemed like a sensible move, especially given the quality that Cottonworth has shown to be capable of whilst on a ‘swap deal’ with Hattingley Valley.

Whether Cottonworth wines made over the last few years will be sold as Cottonworth is not clear. I expect a neat solution will be found. Until then, Leadley’s wines from bought-in fruit from Hampshire chalk will still have a few years to play out before the switch is made. His first release, the 2015 Classic, is a distinctive wine that impresses with its unique focus on Pinot Meunier; Leadley points out, though, that future Black Chalk releases will tone down some of the larger-than-life Meunier characters found in the first wine. Production will remain small – in the low tens of thousands of bottles – for the foreseeable future.

#ESW2020 Selection: Classic 2015
49% Chardonnay, 34% Meunier, 17% Pinot Noir. One of the last disgorgements of this wine before the 2016 base arrives in spring 2020. With fourteen months on cork this has opened up; first up the Chardonnay comes through with some straight- up crystallised white fruits, dried apple and some riper stone fruit before the black grapes, and particularly Meunier, start to fill the glass with fresh blackberry, cashew and a meaty, almost marmite-y savour. Lovely freshness underneath it all with Chardonnay reasserting itself in a zesty finish. Snap some of this up before it goes. 16.5

#ESW2020 Selection: Wild Rose 2016
41% Pinot Noir, 38% Pinot Meunier, 21% Chardonnay. This is a pale, lacy kind of Rosé that works so well; red pear and subtle raspberries are wrapped up in a lovely delicate peach blossom and blanched almond fragrance, set off against a touch of herb and sweet grapefruit. So clean before too much post-disgorgement character begins, with a touch of cream alongside a light, airy mousse. Lovely! 17

We also tasted a pre-release Classic 2016, which promises a slightly more delicate, classically-styled wine than the 2015; “More reflective of what I’d like Black Chalk to be”, says Leadley, and certainly closer to the Wild Rose 2016.