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RECOMMENDATION

Vineyard Tour and Lunch at Black Chalk Wine in Hampshire

By Sarah Frost – 7th September 2020
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What I loved about Black Chalk Wine:

It’s a small, family-run vineyard who are clearly very passionate about their wine-making

 

Worth paying a babysitter?

Yes, you only need a couple of hours though

 

Expect:

To learn all about English wine, and to try some as well

 

Value for money: (out of 10)

10

Setting the scene: 

 

The English wine market is getting bigger and more popular each year and if you’ve tried English wine then you’ll understand why. The climate here in Hampshire is said to be the same as that of the Champagne region in the 1950s – considered by many to be the best decade of champagne. Taittinger is just one company that has ventured over the channel to the South of England to start making sparkling wine.

 

Black Chalk has been making wine for a while under Hattingley but has recently branched out on their own as a boutique vineyard making around 10,000 bottles a year.

 

Vineyard Tour:

 

Black Chalk are based in Hampshire, near Andover and Stockbridge. Hampshire is a perfect county for wine production given the chalky soil which provides excellent drainage for vines. There are 300 chalk streams in the world, and 250 of them can be found in Hampshire!

 

The reason I sound like I know what I’m talking about is because of the excellent guide we had at the vineyard. He gave a really interesting talk at the beginning of your tour, all about the background of the company and the uniquity of English sparkling wine. We then took a walk up through the vines to the top of the vineyard, which offers beautiful views of the Test Valley. It’s easy to keep socially distant from the other tour guests as you can choose a different vine to walk alongside.

 

There was a lot of information given as part of the tour, such as some of the problems that vineyards face; frost being one of the major issues. Luckily Black chalk had some fierce-looking frost guard machines to protect the vines. Going in August meant that we also saw thousands of bunches of grapes ready for harvest (hopefully 80-90 tonnes in fact); so late summer really is the best time to visit.

 

The last part of the tour gives you an insight into the wine-making process in the winery. Being a new vineyard, everything was still in the process of being set up for the first harvest, but it was interesting to see where the grapes would be pressed and bottled. There is a three-year turnaround time with sparkling wine, so we have to wait until 2023 to try the grapes we saw growing in 2020!

 

Tasting:

 

After the tour it’s time to taste the wine – after all, that’s the reason you’d visit a vineyard, right? The tasting and lunch take place upstairs in the shop building and you’re given plenty of space in between groups.

 

There are two wines which they produce here, a classic sparkling and a wild rose. English sparkling wine has now been given Protected Designation of Origin status, like how a pasty is only a Cornish pasty if it was produced in Cornwall. We had generous servings and there were tasting notes available. The wild rose was not like standard rosé wine but was much more subtle and dry.

 

Lunch was then served, which was a charcuterie style board between two, with meats, cheeses, scones and accompaniments. It was a good-sized portion which we enjoyed. It would have been perfect if we had also been able to purchase a glass of wine to drink whilst we were eating, but maybe that’s a future improvement to come.

 

There is a shop downstairs once you’re finished, and toilets on-site as well. The team offer a discount on wine purchases for tour attendees so we couldn’t resist buying a bottle of the Classic to take home for a special occasion. If you visit, I recommend comfortable shoes for the walk through the vineyard. This is also not an accessible venue at the time of writing, as the tasting and lunch take place upstairs with no lift.

 

Overall, it was an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours, and to learn something new. This would be a fun group activity but also works well in a couple. I didn’t feel under any pressure at all to buy anything in the shop, and the team just seemed really happy to be able to showcase their new vineyard. I look forward to trying the 2020 vintage in 2023!

 

To book a tour, or buy some wine visit:  https://www.blackchalkwine.co.uk/

 

Enjoy!

 

Sarah x

RECOMMENDATION

This is a Girl About recommendation. This means that it was not gifted in return for a review but paid in full by our writer and the venue had no idea that I was there. We only recommend places we absolutely love, and places that we know you’ll love too!

 

Hampshire
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