Wine News 

November 2, 2016

Photo: Simpsons Wine Estate

Simpsons Wine Estate in Barham, Kent, which planted its first 10 hectares of vines in 2014 and will treble that to 30 hectares by May next year, has just marked its first vintage after a summer growing season characterized by "amazing" weather and a "very good" Chardonnay harvest, according to co-owner Ruth Simpson.

Speaking in a phone interview last week after the official celebration of the harvest, she said one of the main advantages for the new winery was that "we haven't had any weather pressure." While Pinot Meunier grapes didn't develop as fast as they might have, so weren't harvested, the season was "decent for Pinot Noir," with the result that, unusually for southern England, "we haven't had any weather pressure."

Anticipated production is around 22,000 bottles from the first 10-hectare block of vines planted, with the possibility of experimenting with making up to 1,000 liters of still Chardonnay in light of the favorable weather, she said. The vineyard benefited from "really good sunshine hours."

Ruth and Charles Simpson, while new to English sparkling wine, have been making wine for 15 years at Domaine Sainte Rose in the Languedoc, where their output is now running at between 350,000 and 400,000 bottles a year. 

"We'd been watching the U.K. market with a lot of interest," she said. "We happened to come across land being advertized near Canterbury and bought it, and when Champagne Taittinger acquired land nearby subsequently, it was "a huge endorsement of our site selection."

Simpsons has benefited from a U.K. government grant to help fund its winery, and is part of a growing sparkling wine industry in the southern counties of England.

November 1, 2016

Jenkyn Place, a sparkling wine vineyard in Hampshire, southern England, is marking more than a decade of expansion even as yields for its 2016 crop have been reduced by poor weather during bud formation in August of last year.

Simon Bladon and his wife Rebecca first planted Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier on their land in 2004 and expanded the vineyard in 2007 and again in 2010, reaching their current total of 15,000 vines. The soil is greensand over marlstone, the wines produced in the traditional Champagne method and vinification is at the Wiston Estate Winery near Pulborough.

Bladon said at a tasting in London last week that he expected yields at the estate, which he runs with his daughter Camilla, to reach about 5 tonnes a hectare, one third of the amount he has achieved in some years. "Last August was very cold and wet, when the buds formed," he said, referring to the latter part of the 2015 growing season. The 25 tonnes he estimates he will get from the 5 hectares planted should produce around 18,000 bottles of sparkling wine. 

Jenkyn Place escaped frost in early May that affected some neighboring properties, and while 2016 yields may be lower, the vineyard now has a decade of history behind it. The Jenkyn Place Brut Cuvee 2006 has had 10 years to mature and is 61 percent Chardonnay, 23 percent Pinot Noir and 16 percent Pinot Meunier. 

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