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Five minutes with Kit Ellen, Exton Park

Published:  31 May, 2021

Kit Ellen, MD at Hampshire’s Exton Park, distributed in the UK by Bancroft Wines, talks to Jo Gilbert about the winery’s intriguing shift in focus to ‘reserve blends’, a new standard-bearer for the wines based on its 10-year library of reserves.

Broadly speaking, the NV approach uses a base vintage (usually the latest one) as a structure for the wine, and reserve wine is then added to that for complexity. After much introspection over the past year, we realised that the fundamental part of what we do – blending – is completely different from others as there is no base vintage in our wines. The vast majority of each blend is made up of reserve wine from our 10-year library (sometimes over 80%), all built up with grapes grown and harvested solely from our 60 acre Hampshire vineyard. This is a rare thing, not something that many, if any, other English producers are doing.
The idea for this was pretty simple. It means we can ensure consistency, while also capturing the incredible uniqueness of this corner of Hampshire. A healthy wine category is a broad wine category. Innovation, pushing the boundaries, breaking the mould – we believe strongly at Exton Park that we shouldn’t just copy our neighbours across the Channel.
We have just released three core wines for the Reserve Blend range: the RB32 Brut, RB23 Rosé, and the RB28 Blanc de Noirs, which have all been transitioned towards later bottlings which contain more reserve wine in the blend, and longer lees ageing. A fourth wine will be joining our core range very soon. This pushes the RB philosophy even further. We’re also going to release some separate, very special Limited Release wines. Watch this space, as one of those Limited Releases involves a process never before seen in English wine…