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Black Chalk sparkling wine launched

English sparkling wine, Black Chalk has been launched by winemaker Jacob Leadley, using wines sourced from Hampshire grapes grown on chalk soil.

There will be two wines initially; Black Chalk Classic and Black Chalk Wild Rose. Both wines are a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier and Pinot Noir.  The wines have an RRP of £35 for the Classic and £40 for the Wild Rose and are destined for independent wine merchants and fine dining restaurants.

Both the Classic and Wild Rose – which are small batch and made in the traditional method – launch with the 2015 vintage. The wines have a high proportion of Pinot Meunier (34% in the Classic and 47% in the Wild Rose) which Leadley believes is ideally suited to Hampshire’s chalklands. 

The name Black Chalk derives from the material used by the old masters to sketch initial ideas onto canvas before finalising their masterpiece.

Black Chalk is a family affair, with Leadley’s wife Rebecca partnering on the venture along with Leadley’s parents-in-law and brother-in-law.

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

Commenting on the launch, Leadley says: “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 of Red Squirrel, comments: “It’s a great honour and a privilege to be helping Jacob and everyone behind Black Chalk with their important and exciting new English wine venture. 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. At Red Squirrel of course we’ve always held a fondness for the lesser-known grapes, and so a starring role for Pinot Meunier is also a delight to see. We all look forward to what else Jacob has up his sleeves!”

Black Chalk will officially launch at the forthcoming WineGB Annual Tasting at Westminster’s Lindley Hall on 26 April. Black Chalk will also exhibit at the London Wine Fair (21-23 May) on both the WineGB and Red Squirrel stands.

10 April 2018 - Sam Coyne The Drinks Report, news editor