A HAMPSHIRE vineyard has picked up two gold awards – just one year since launching its first wines.
Exton Park, a 55-acre vineyard on the chalk slopes of the South Downs, was awarded a gold medal in the International Wine Challenge for its Pinot Meunier Rose – seen for the first time at the recent London Wine Fair – and the vineyard’s first ‘declared’ vintage, Blanc de Blancs 2011, won gold in the Decanter World Wine Awards.
Winemaker Corinne Seely said: ‘It is a dream come true.
‘Who would have thought, a year ago, that we would be receiving such accolades?
‘The vineyard manager, Fred Langdale, and I always knew we had something very special here at Exton Park.’
The vines were first planted in Allens Farm Lane, Exton, in 2003. They stretch up to 120m above sea level on south and south-westerly facing slopes and are carefully managed for density and space.
This has been such an exciting year for us all.Winemaker Corinne Seely
Ms Seely said: ‘We’ve worked closely to develop its potential – from individual canopy management to different methods of crop control for each site – every plot has something different to offer.
‘In the winery, we have two Bücher presses so that the red grapes can be pressed extremely slowly under nitrogen for maximum fruit and freshness – while the other can handle the white grapes immediately after picking. We also have many small vats, so that we can vinify plot by plot – and then keep those wines in reserve, to add to my maturing ‘library’ for blending.’
With such a wealth of wines at her fingertips, she has been able to innovate and develop her English sparkling wines.
Ms Seely said: ‘As a winemaker, I appreciate the importance of terroir, and as a French winemaker I find English terroir fascinating.
‘Fred and I always believed that Pinot Meunier has the ability to take on the very English character of the Exton Park soils. In 2014, the oldest Pinot Meunier plot produced the perfect wines to prove this.’
But the vineyard would not have been possible without businessman Malcolm Isaac, who bought Exton Park in 2009.
‘This has been such an exciting year for us all,’ Ms Seely said
‘And the faith that Malcolm Isaac continues to have in the team gives us the confidence to constantly innovate yet remain true to the beating heart of our exceptional Exton Park vineyard.’