An interview with our Winemaker Corinne
When you joined Exton Park in 2011, did you set out to create a new style of sparkling wine?
When I first joined, I soon realised that what we had at Exton Park was very special. I immediately believed the terroir had fantastic potential to make exceptional wines, but I didn’t want these to be a copy of Champagne. Even though I am French, my ambition was to make iconic English sparkling wine with its own unique style and identity.
I think we did it.
Exton Park’s style is undeniably new and definitely recognisable.
Why is it so important to have a library of reserve wines?
The weather in England can be so unpredictable. You can have four seasons in one single day! In terms of harvest, each year can vary considerably. It is very challenging to produce quality vintage wine every year when there has been a difficult harvest because of the temperamental weather.
I decided early on at Exton Park that I would address this by keeping a certain amount of wine from each harvest in reserve. Over the past decade this has built into an extensive archive of different flavour profiles for me to play with in my blends.
Our library of reserve wines is what makes Exton Park so special. It is like a galaxy of wines which gives complexity and maturity of taste.
I wait for years before blending them together to create a unique and consistent character in each wine.
How do you blend? What is the most important skill to have when blending so many wines?
There are no set recipes for wines in our Reserve Blend range. Each year I meticulously blend and taste until I have an exact match. This means we can guarantee that the Brut you buy in 2021, for example, will have a consistent taste with the Brut you buy in 2022 and beyond.
I taste the wines all year long. Before they are blended, they do not contain any bubbles and have only been through primary fermentation. At this stage, we call them base wines.
It takes me at least three to four months to achieve the right blends that are consistent to my previous bottling. I like to memorise each wine in my mind. It’s like a giant puzzle with tiny little pieces that not only have colours but also smells and tastes. You need a good memory for this and a lot of imagination!
And the more years that pass, the more reserve wines I have, the more complex this process is! It can be a big challenge but there is nothing more satisfying than creating the right blend that will become a delicious sparkling wine. I love my wines being shared and enjoyed by so many people.
Why are Exton Park’s wines such a great match with food?
The high percentage of reserve wines in our blends gives age, complexity and maturity, but at the same time because of the nature of Exton Park’s terroir, the wines are still fresh and elegant. This means they pair well with food because there are more flavours at play to complete and balance lots of dishes.
The wines also have a lot of saltiness and minerality in their taste, possibly due to the Hampshire chalky soil they are made from, which helps with food pairings too.
What’s your favourite wine and food pairing?
A risotto of wild mushrooms and asparagus with our RB23 Rosé, especially with a splash of the Rosé added to the sauce. Delicious!
In Asia, smoked pigeon with oolong tea leaves is a popular pairing with our RB28 Blanc de Noirs. I also like it with a simple shepherd’s pie.
I would recommend any kind of seafood or fish with our RB32 Brut. Sushi and sashimi are an excellent pairing.
“The first time I tasted Exton Park I was astonished. The wine has a purity, clarity, but also an intensity of flavour and uniqueness of scent I'd never come across before.”Oz Clark - English Wine
“Exton Park and I share the same passion for quality, sustainability and local ingredients. Their winemaker, Corinne, mirrors the same level of precision and technique that I expect from the top chefs in my kitchens. This is why I selected Exton Park's Rosé for my restaurants.”Simon Rogan - 4 Michelin Star Chef
“Peaches and strawberries in effervescent perfection. Hampshire’s greatest hit.”Olly Smith - ITV Wine Critic, RB23 Rosé 2021
“Wines that are kaleidoscopically complex and exciting.”Jancis Robinson, 2021