Sparkling wine is closely associated with the Champagne region in France, however due to favourable climate conditions and mirroring clay soil to that in Champagne, English sparkling wines are slowing seeing popularity globally. English sparkling wine did out perform certain Champagnes' in blind tasting contests. Interestingly enough, Champagne estates are expanding by purchasing English vineyards.
One notable vineyard I had the true pleasure of visiting not too far from London is Hambledon Vineyard, around an hour train ride, set in a beautiful English countryside and near a quant little village Hambeldon, Hampshire. Tucked away, by following the signs to the vineyard you enter a traditional red brick gate. As you amble up the hill you can slowly notice vines on the sides of the avenue and a beautiful victorian house up the hill where the hosts were waiting for us.
To the rear of house I greeted the managing director, Ian Kellett, who I had a pleasure to meet during my WSET course. A remarkable wine professional with a calm aura and yet striking ambition for Hambledon Wines.
We started with a tour of the vineyard and wine production facilities, curated by a lovely wine expert who took us through the history of wine making of the estate as well as the vine growing process. From wine pressing machines to labelling - (two foxes drinking), a very creative way to position the brand, some humorous wine stories and also outlining the future strategy of the estate.
After a very insightful production facility tour we returned to the reception for some tasting. Having tried quite a few different varieties of sparkling wine, from rose to zero dosage as well, it was evident that the flavours were incredible with strong aromas and hard to place one as favourite. This vineyard does hold a firm vision of the the management team as it has, without a doubt, every potential to grow in stature due to its premium wines and the genuine team spirt of the staff. I look forward to seeing what the future entails for Hambledon vineyard.
Wine of the recommendation
Premiere Cuvee Brut is a lovely white sparkling wine that I immensely enjoyed tasting due to its palete of orange blossom, red apples, fresh lemons and hints of ripe pear and white flower on the nose that adds more complexity. The wine is gorgeously balanced taking into account also its complexity of tertiary aromas of almond brioche, nutty hints that create a pleasant fresh acidity. This wine has a beautiful long finish developing minerality and chalkiness from Hemisphere that is truly unique and demonstrates premium quality.
This lovely sparkling wine goes well on its own at any occasion, possibly best when over few chit chats with your friend. It also serves well with various simple appetizers and various simple starters such as a simple beautiful dish Vegan baked feta with olives and thyme by the very talented ' the tasty other'. Premiere Cuvee Brut goes well with a simple white fish or shellfish dishes, such as big grouper baked in sea salt also by 'the tasty other'. Yum!
Non alcoholic and zero sugar sparkling wines are a thing now. Hambledon vineyard has embraced the trend and produced a zero dosage rose wine Premier Cuvee Rose, absolutely delicious and safe to say does't make you guilty. Fresh aromas of strawberries, lemon and ripe peach.