A PLACE FOR GRAPES
Few sites can rival Jenkyn Place. Nestled in the North Hampshire Downs near the quintessentially-English village of Bentley, our vineyards cover 12 acres (or around five hectares) of what were once hop fields.
The same greensand soils covering marlstone in which hops once thrived are now nurturing our Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, the classic grape varieties used to make Champagne. The vineyards sit on sheltered, chalky, south-facing slopes at 100 metres above sea level, making them ideal for growing the high-quality grapes we need to produce top English sparkling wines.
Our first vines were planted in 2004, with further vines added in 2007 and 2010. Our vineyards are now at full capacity, with their rows filled with some 15,000 vines. Steve Williams and Stewart Sandy started out working on the estate but are now full time in the vineyard.
“We have a great history in England of producing fine sparkling wines on greensand,” explains winemaker Dermot Sugrue. “The greensand topsoil at Jenkyn Place is actually scattered with eroded fragments of chalk, creating an unusual – maybe unique – combination, which is beginning to be translated into the wines. If chalk is associated with more gently-fruited wines of notable finesse and greensand delivers a rounder fruit profile, then we are seeing an element of both in our 2013 vintage. Indeed, the older Jenkyn Place cuvees from 2006 to 2010 have, over the years, achieved quite brilliant levels of completeness once maturity was reached.”
A PLACE FOR GROWING
England and its Northern European neighbours may have marginal climates – in which the ripeness of the grapes can vary from year to year – but the effects of climate change mean that our vineyards in Hampshire are getting warmer. The average temperature in the South-East of England is only 1°C cooler than in Champagne, which explains why so many Champagne houses are investing in the Home Counties.
As the climate changes, experts expect vines to be planted further north than the traditional 50 degrees of latitude limit. The cool conditions that were once prized in the Champagne region for helping grapes to retain their acidity for sparkling wines are increasingly being found here in the South of England.
“Since my family began planting vines at Jenkyn Place in 2004, it’s been fascinating to watch the growth of the English wine industry,” says manager Camilla Bladon. “There are now more than 500 vineyards spread throughout England and Wales, including 42 in our beloved Hampshire. It’s a very exciting time to be making English sparkling wine, which has gone from being a ‘niche’ or ‘novelty’ drink to a high-quality product served in top restaurants and at the Queen’s banquets. As more and more experienced winemakers travel to England, I think the reputation of our nation’s wines will continue to grow.”
A PLACE FOR FAMILY
When Simon Bladon bought Jenkyn Place in 1997, winemaking hadn’t even crossed his mind. The property entrepreneur and Rebecca, his wife, chose our Hampshire estate as the beautiful setting in which they wanted to raise their family.
But when Simon attended a furniture auction in 2003 and was handed a glass of English sparkling wine for the first time, his outlook changed. He may not have bought any furniture at the auction, but instead he headed straight home and began laying plans to plant vines in the old hop fields next to his house.
Jenkyn Place is now a family affair, with Camilla – Simon and Rebecca’s daughter – managing the business, and Freddie and Jack, their sons, lending a hand when needed. Our plans for the future include building a wine warehouse on the estate, so more bottles can slumber and mature among the vines.
“Returning home to the heart of Hampshire is a dream come true,” smiles Camilla. “With the launch of our 2013 vintage, I’ve redesigned our packaging to give our wine the quality and contemporary look that it deserves.”
A PLACE FOR HISTORY
While the history of Jenkyn Place may stretch back to the 17th century, our roots as a top-quality wine estate have a much more contemporary story to tell.
1997: Simon and Rebecca Bladon and their children – Camilla, Freddie and Jack – moved to Jenkyn Place in Hampshire.
2004: The first Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines were planted in the former hop fields, with their then estate workers, Steve Williams and Stewart Sandy, moonlighting as vineyard managers
2006: The first grapes were harvested and turned into English sparkling wine.
2007: Further vines were planted.
2010: A final batch of vines were planted, taking Jenkyn Place up to its capacity of 15,000 vines.
2011 and 2012: A lack of good-quality grapes meant no Jenkyn Place sparkling wines were produced.
2013: High-quality grapes were harvested to produce the current 2013 vintage wine.
2017: The 2013 vintage brut cuvee goes on sale.
“Jenkyn Place wasn’t my first foray into the wine trade,” Simon reveals. “When I was running Bladon Lines Travel in the 1980s, we created two wines for our alpine ski chalets, using our firm’s parrot logo as a play-on-words for ‘Parrot Claret’ and a white called ‘Parrot Fin’, which we pronounced ‘paraffin’ and that wasn’t too far from the truth! Our English sparkling wines are of a much more serious quality – but hopefully we’ve still got that same sense of humour,” he chuckles.
A PLACE FOR TALENT
Finding the right winemaker can be like finding the perfect partner – sometimes you must kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince. Simon Bladon got lucky because he knew exactly who he wanted to make his wines at Jenkyn Place – and he didn’t even have to give Dermot a kiss.
“I tasted my first English sparkling wine at a furniture auction in the Nyetimber vineyard back in 2003,” Simon remembers. “It opened my eyes to the potential of making high-quality fizz in England. When I found out that Nyetimber was growing its grapes on the same kind of greensand soils that our family has at Jenkyn Place then an idea began to form in my mind. I asked Stuart Moss, the owner of Nyetimber, who its his winemaker was who had made that wine. It was Dermot Sugrue."
“He now makes wines at Wiston Estate, where he also produces our fizz. He’s one of the most talented winemakers in the industry and I’m proud that he’s played such an important role in putting Jenkyn Place and Hampshire on the English sparkling wine map.”
“When I first visited Jenkyn Place, I was struck by how well-managed the vineyard was.
I knew straight away that Simon was very serious about quality.” - Dermot Sugrue
A PLACE FOR Winemaking
Once the grapes are harvested from our vineyards, the fruit is taken by winemaker Dermot Sugrue to his base at Wiston Estate, where he weaves his magic to produce our award-winning wines.
Our sparklers are made using the same traditional method as in France’s Champagne region. The second fermentation – the one that adds to bubbles to the wine – takes place inside the bottle.
“It is clear that exceptional wines – loaded with mouth-filling fruit – are consistently achievable, but they need time and patience to produce, often requiring at least five years ageing in the bottle before truly coming into their own,” explains Dermot.
Simon Bladon adds: “You can’t rush quality. I’ll only let our Jenkyn Place wines go on sale when I know that they’re mature and ready to serve.”
A PLACE FOR wines
The award-winning wines are made in the traditional Champagne method, from classic grape varieties and spend around three years on the lees before being released to the public. Quality control is paramount throughout the whole process – from the design, planting and tending of the vineyards to the actual production of the wines.