Exton Park has nine plots in Hampshire making exquisite English sparkling wine– uniquely, this is an exclusive “single estate” of 60 acres producing some of the finest English sparkling wine.
What does single estate mean? It means that Exton Park grow all their grapes in their garden rather than buying grapes from elsewhere in the UK. This is the traditional romantic vision we have of winemaking but it often isn’t the case (especially in marginal regions for grape growing from a climate perspective, such as the UK). What it means is that Exton Park wines are a pure expression of a single time and place in Hampshire. How is England able to make sparkling wine to rival that of champagne in France? When you visit Exton Park (which you can do with Elizabeth & Wine – click here to see my blog on day trips to English vineyards) you can actually see the chalk soils in the tasting room as they have exposed one of the walls. So what you can see is brilliant white chalk which is the same soil type as champagne and which delivers racy acidity in your sparkling wine. As climate change gives England warmer summers, we’re able to grow grapes in a similar environment as in some areas of France. Exploring Exton Park These rolling chalk hills are cared for by Fred Langdale the vineyard director and Corinne Seely the wine director. Corine has been making wine in England for 12 years overseeing the entire process at Exton Park and drawing on experience gained in Bordeaux where she started her career at the prestigious grand cru Classe Domaine de Chevalier. She then became a consultant winemaker,spending time in Australia, the Languedoc, France and Douro in Portugal and has finally settled in England at Exton Park where she has been instrumental in developing their philosophy and phenomenal wines. The last time I visited Exton Park was before the pandemic three years ago and at that press tasting we were shown drawings of the new building and plans that they were unveiling. I returned last week for the first time to a spectacular building with floor to ceiling glass windows standing tall overlooking the vines and letting in tonnes of natural daylight – it’s just stunning and I didn’t want to leave. What's so incredible about this hall is it stands in the middle of the vines so you have incredible 180 degree views of vineyards and as you're sitting up high on a hill you can see the countryside rolling in front of you and the tops of trees. There's been an incredible amount of attention to detail with all the soft touches,from lighting - spotlights to mood lighting, working fireplaces, huge comfy sofas with big cushions - everything is very tactile. Exquisite oak tables with engravings on have been installed and low hanging chandeliers designed to look like vine leaves. With a high vaulted ceiling creating this enormous space, it really is an incredible place to visit. For private events you are welcome to dine, have chefs table dinners, host meetings and conferences. They have numerous rooms and lounges all equipped with AV to be able to relax in the sumptuous armchairs and have coffee in the morning at your leisure and then pop a cork of sparkling and go on an exquisite wine tasting with Corinne. I was delighted to be introduced to Corinne’s fourth sparkling wine - RB45, their reserve blend from one block which is the first wine to have been made from 100% Chardonnay reserve - it’s been a work in process over the past decade. Corinne has developed this exquisite reserve blend from the chalky English soil and its creamy and subtle notes of vanilla balanced with freshness from citrus fruit and orange blossom. This wine is developed, mellow and well-rounded it is very layered and complex a wonderful melody of expression. 25% of the wine was aged in second-hand oak barrels from Bordeaux and Burgundy and 30% underwent malolactic fermentation. If you want to visit Exton Park with Elizabeth & Wine, please get in touch!