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Exton Park releases first ever vintage

English sparkling wine newcomer Exton Park has launched its first ever vintage expression.

Just 2,500 bottles of the Exton Park 2011 Blanc de Blanc have been produced (Photo: Exton Park)

The Exton Park Blanc de Blancs 2011 is the first vintage wine to be released by the 55-acre Hampshire vineyard. The chardonnay grapes come from the oldest plot of the vineyard, from the pure chalk soils at the top of the South Downs property.

The new release was described as “golden and toasty, with citrus and mineral freshness” and further as “a fine example of what can be achieved from this very special site”.

Describing vintage conditions, Exton Park said that 2011’s good but not outstanding summer, coupled with a sunny autumn with dry winds provided good conditions for the early ripening and picking of its chardonnay grapes.

Just 2,500 bottles of the Blanc de Blancs 2011 have been made, with the limited release carrying a recommended retail price of £39.95.

Owned by Hampshire businessman Malcolm Isaac since 2009, Exton Park is managed by Fred Langdale, who has worked around the world but most recently for major English producer Nyetimber.

The winemaking is overseen by consultant Corinne Seely, who got to know Exton Park during her previous involvement with fellow Hampshire estate Coates & Seely, but also brings experience from Domaine de Chevalier in Pessac-Léognan, Bordeaux, the Douro and Tasmania, among other places.

The three award-winning wines launched by Exton Park so far, in May, were all non-vintage – a key strategy of French-born winemaker Seely when she arrived at the vineyard in 2011. Seely’s aim was to build a consistent style year on year to appeal to consumers and build brand loyalty, with vintages only being made in exceptional years and carrying a premium value.

Seely also emphasised her focus on building up stocks of reserve wine each year to create a consistent, more complex non-vintage style that represents the majority of the house’s production.

Such a strategy has required significant investment from owner Isaac. “It was a big challenge for me, but an even bigger financial gamble for Malcolm’, Seely said. “I am so honoured that he had faith in what we were creating.”

Exton Park said the new Blanc de Blancs 2011 vintage release marked the “next step” in building the reputation of the vineyard.

A recent drinks business profile revealed how Exton Park had set itself the ambition of producing high-quality sparkling wine based on single-vineyard production and a significant reserve wine component to its blends.

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