Black Chalk WinePortrait of a winemaker

Discover the history of Black Chalk Wine, its wines, passions & savoir-faire. Anna Caidan is in conversation with Zoë Driver assistant winemaker
2020-06-01
Wine Story

What could you tell me about Black Chalk?

‘We are a small boutique English winery specialising in premium sparkling wines. We have twelve hectares of vines across 4 sites in Hampshire’s Test valley, planted with Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Pinot Précoce, and our brand-new winery is due for completion this month! Because we are so small, we have the luxury of being able to experiment and focus on things that excite us; we can devote all of our attention to quality and innovation.’

What is the secret to making your wines?

‘Teamwork and keeping an open mind. Having a team of passionate and creative people who all want to share in the hard work, the ideas, the failures and the glories ensures we all continue to learn, grow and develop and make the best wines we possibly can.’

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What is your favourite step in the winemaking process?

‘I have two! Harvest time, when we bring all the carefully looked after fruit in and taste the juice fresh from the press, is pretty special; it is where it all begins for us in the winery. I also love blending. Tasting through the fruits of our labours, being creative and innovative and ultimately producing the vision we want to share with the world is such a great feeling.’

What is your best memory since working at Black Chalk?

‘It’s so hard to choose! I absolutely love my job and look forward to going in every day. Whilst our winery is finishing being built I’ve had the opportunity to spend more time out in the vineyards, and it’s a brilliant feeling when we finish big jobs like winter pruning. I’ve loved seeing the vines come to life this spring knowing I have helped to look after them. Buying all of our winery kit has also been really exciting!’

…and your most challenging moment?

‘Frost watch is pretty challenging! We’ve had a few nights this year where we have needed to light our frost guards, and then monitor them throughout the night. Traipsing through the vineyard at 4am in minus temperatures is definitely not my favourite part of the job, but so worth it to protect our vines.’

How would you define your wines in three words?

‘Expressive, striking, pure.’

How do your wines differ from others in the region?

‘We are particularly fond of Pinot Meunier; it grows so well on Hampshire’s chalklands and brings a real pure fruit expression, so our wines have a higher proportion of it in than most. We want our wines to really showcase what England, and more importantly Hampshire, can do.’

How are your wines best served?

‘With family and friends, having a bloody good time!’

‘New in the beautiful Hampshire wine scene, Black Chalk Wine is a boutique-winery where passion for quality is at the heart of the House’s ambitions. Owner and winemaker, Jacob Leadley perpetuates the know-how of a family craft in the production of sparkling wines. His two cuvées, Black Chalk Classic and Wild Rosé are distinguished by their finesse, elegance and complexity.

Special mention for Wild Rose 2016, with very fine bubbles and perfect balance, refined and tasty.’ Anna Caidan

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