Black Chalk set to highlight versatility of Hampshire's Pinot Meunier

Black Chalk, an English Sparkling Wine from Hampshire, makes its debut this month.

The Black Chalk wines, which have been created by winemaker Jacob Leadley, are made entirely from Hampshire grapes grown on chalk soil.

There will be two wines initially: Black Chalk Classic (rsp: £35) and Black Chalk Wild Rose (rsp: £40). Both are a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.

The small batch wines are made from the 2015 vintage using “an unusually high” proportion of Pinot Meunier, a variety which Leadley believes is ideally suited to Hampshire’s chalklands.

Specialist distributor Red Squirrel has been appointed UK agent and will focus on gaining distribution in independent retailers and restaurants across the UK.

Leadley said: “Black Chalk has been nine years in the making: the journey has taken me and my family across the globe but has always been focused on England. When quitting my job in The City, my ultimate ambition was to create my own wine. I am in a fortunate position to be able to make wine from what is – in my opinion – the best county for grape production, and at a time when the English Wine Industry is fast coming of age; it is incredibly exciting. My aim has been to create wines which really typify Hampshire’s chalklands; a terroir that is becoming synonymous with pure fruit expression.

“We are delighted to be working with Nik and the team at Red Squirrel – they are perfectly placed to take Black Chalk to the trade. For me, Black Chalk is all about beautifully crafted wines from the finest sourced grapes, that people can share and enjoy.”

Nik Darlington, managing director at Red Squirrel, said: “We have been quietly scouting for a genuinely ground-breaking, head-above-the-parapet English Sparkling Wine for some time and believe in Black Chalk we have found the perfect fit. Hampshire has some of the finest sparkling wine vineyard conditions in the world – let alone England – and it is on this fine foundation that the beautiful Black Chalk blends are built. Jacob has a proven track record as an exceptional sparkling winemaker, so it’s an enviable combination.”
Black Chalk will officially launch at the forthcoming WineGB Annual Tasting on April 26 in London.

Leadley retrained as a winemaker in 2009. After completing a BSc in Viticulture and Oenology at Plumpton College, followed by winemaking experience in Central Otago, Champagne and England, he decided to embark on his own venture in 2015. He remains on the team at Hattingley as winemaker, where he has been since 2011. Black Chalk is run by Leadley and his wife, along with other family members.