Monday, January 26, 2015

Some very British bubbles

Today I was lucky enough to be invited to a tour and tasting at Hattingley Valley winery in Hampshire.  To those who are still dismissive of English Sparkling Wine, I simply say, where's your sense of adventure?  For those willing to explore this growing category of wine there are some absolute gems to be found.

We started off with a tour of the winery, modest-looking from the outside, it was actually a much larger operation than I expected.  Hattingley Valley is a relatively young winery, founded in 2008 they grow the traditional grapes used in Champagne, namely; Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier.  They produced their first wine in 2010 and have been going from strength to strength since, now producing 4 different sparkling wines, all made according to the traditional Champagne method.  They achieve their unique style of wine by fermenting a small proportion of their wine in oak barrels each year, as well as ageing it on lees in stainless steel tanks.

After the tour came my favourite part, the tasting.  We naturally started off with the Classic Cuvee which was enjoyable but not my favourite wine of the tasting.  We moved onto the Blanc de Blancs, made with 100% Chardonnay.  This was for a short time my favourite wine of the tasting, with a distinct flavour of green apple and citrus the wine was fresh and fruity which balanced the acidity nicely, perfect for a celebration.

However, a few minutes later the Blanc de Blancs was surpassed by the Kings Cuvee as my favourite.  The wine used to make up this blend has all been fermented in oak barrels, giving it a unique taste.  Normally, only a small proportion of the wine in a blend would be aged in oak barrels meaning you would only get a subtle hint of that oakiness in the flavour.  The only downside is that at £65 a bottle, the Kings Cuvee is rather out of my price range.

Finally, we were given a sample of a wine which they are still experimenting with.  Having grown some Bacchus Hattingley Valley are trying out a dessert wine in the style of an ice wine.  This was right up my street, there were notes of elderflower and peach and the wine was not overly sweet and cloying, like some dessert wines can be.  I hope to see more where that came from in the future!

Unfortunately the Rose was so popular they didn't have any left for tastings!  They've certainly left me wanting more.

If you want to find out more about Hattingley Valley check out their website, or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

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