Blackbook Clayhill Chardonnay 2017

Blackwood Clayhill Chardonnay 2017, 11.5%, England


This is a wine that gets us excited – for many reasons.

Firstly, it’s made from Chardonnay. 

We’re aware that may be problematic for those many people traumatised by soupy, sickly, revolting Chardonnays of the past. But this isn’t just any Chardonnay – this is English Chardonnay. That means fresh, crisp, lively, invigorating Chardonnay. Think Chablis in Union Jack hot pants.

We firmly believe that Chardonnay will make England’s greatest wines. In fact, it already is in many cases – both in still wines and in sparkling. But particularly for the stills.

Secondly, it’s made by an urban winery operating out of a railway arch in Battersea. That’s quite fun.

Blackbook is run by sommellier-turned-winemaker Sergio Verrillo and his wife Lynsey. They buy fruit from vineyards within hours of the city and transport it in to their wine cavern. It’s a trend that’s gaining in popularity all over the world.

Finally, where the grapes are grown is exciting – Essex. We’ve toured the vineyards in this, the warmest, driest part of the country, and we’ve seen very exciting things. One thing’s for sure – Essex will be a name to remember in terms of the future of English wine. Particularly (though not exclusively) still wine. In fact, much of East Anglia has exciting potential. 

As for how the wine tastes – it’s delicious.

Vibrant, uplifting acidity of course – but this creates a tension around which is deftly woven a complex, engaging flavour profile of toasted nuts, melted butter and ripe Cox’s apples. There’s more than a hint of ‘struck match’ character, typical of many great Chardonnays, which is beautifully integrated.

In short, this is a super exciting addition to the already vibrant English still wine scene, and already one of the country’s finest Chardonnays. At £18.50, plus a tenner on delivery if you can’t pick up from London, it’s not cheap. But in the context it’s actually pretty decent value for money and significantly better value than many pricier Chardonnays.

Buy it soon before it sells out, would be our tip. We certainly have.

(Susie, 8/10, August 2019)

ps we took the wine down to the beach to take some gratuitous photos and film a short vid in Force 6 winds…Click on the photo if you’d like to see the vid.