Originally from Yorkshire, Eton-alumni Simon Bladon co-manages the family owned West Ella property trading and development business. He is very much an entrepreneur and founded the ski chalet company Bladon Lines in the 1980s. Simon and his wife Rebecca moved from Yorkshire to Jenkyn Place in Hampshire in 1997 and set about restoring the 300 year old house, the outbuildings and the 18 ha of gardens and woodland. Restoration complete, the estate was up for sale in 2011 with a guide price of £7.25 million, but as of 2014 the Bladons are still owners and in residence.
For lovers of English wine, this is probably a very good thing, for Bladon has shown considerable attention to detail with the wine business that he has created from scratch. The first vineyard was planted in 2004 on the site of an abandoned hop field and has been extended with further plantings in 2007 and 2010. Total plantings are ca. 15,000 vines over ca. 5 ha and consist of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Munier. The first vintage was prepared by the late Mike Roberts at Ridgeview and the current winemaker is Dermot Sugrue at Wiston Estate.
Production is always going to be restricted given the vineyard size, which is now at its limit. Weather conditions mitigated against collecting fruit in both 2011 and 2012, but the most recent harvest (2014) is expected to be a bumper crop of good quality, in common with many other S. England vineyards.
The wines have been successful in competition with the 2009 Brut Cuvée receiving silver medals at both the Decanter World Wine Awards and the International Wine Challenge in 2013. This is some achievement after only a decade, but it remains to be seen what the next decade will bring. With limited resources for promotion and marketing it must sometimes be tempting for small grape producers such as Jenkyn Place to sell their fruit directly to a Négociant, rather than to have all the extra headaches associated with wine marketing and retailing.
(Header Image © Jenkyn Place)
Jenkyn Place Brut, 2010
Straw colour; moderately aromatic, citrus, yeast; dry, sharp acidity, lime, herbal, creamy palate; med+ fine finish. (23 Oct 2014) Outstanding, 92/100
Jenkyn Place Sparkling Rosé, 2009
Pink colour; moderately aromatic, citrus, strawberries, yogurt; dry, good acidity, complex red fruits, creamy, nutty palate; med+ lovely finish. (23 Oct 2014) Outstanding, 94/100