Over the last few years, English sparkling wine has surged in popularity and demand, as well as winning numerous competitions when pitched against some of the Grand Marque Champagne houses.
Sharing many characteristics of Champagne, including grape varieties, production methods and, in most cases, soil composition, the qualities of British sparkling wine match their better-established cousin from Champagne. There are over 100 wineries in England producing sparkline wine, with well over 10 million bottles of English sparkling wine being produced each year.
As a huge lover of English sparkling ourselves, we would like to introduce one of our favourites, Hattingley Valley; a family-owned winery in Hampshire, who create a truly unique range of English premium sparkling wines. What's more they actively support the growth and development of a number of vineyards around England, helping to drive the long-term growth of this amazing industry.
In case you missed it, click here to brush up on your knowledge of Champgane.
Hattingley Valley, a family-owned, eco-friendly winery in Hampshire specialising in premium, award-winning English sparkling wine.
We love them not just because their wines are delicious, but because they share our core values - alongside their immense pride in the quality of their product, they are hugely passionate about how they achieve the end result. As a British business they believe in investing in Britain and the countryside around them, looking after not only nature, but also the people on whom we all rely.
Since producing their first vintage in 2010 and launching their first release in August 2013, Hattingley Valley has developed into one of the most respected producers of English sparkling wine in the country, known for its refreshingly modern, innovative and dynamic approach to winemaking.
Hattingley Valley manages over 25 acres of vines across two well-situated sites in Hampshire growing the key grape varieties chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier, as well as bacchus and, for its Clasic Reserve, pinot gris, on the flinty loam on chalk soils.
It also buys grapes from a number of other growers in England to benefit from unique soil types and microclimates that help add extra depth of flavour to its wines, as well as helping to offset any issues with frost or localised weather events.
Hattingley Valley Vineyard, Hampshire
Hattingley Valley manages over 25 acres of vines
Hattingley Valley uses the Traditional Method for producing sparkling wine. But what sets its wines apart from the rest is the subtle use of oak barrels.
The winery, which has a capacity of over 500 tonnes, ferments a small proportion of sparkling wines each year in barrel, as well as ageing on lees in stainless steel tanks, helping to soften the wines before they go into bottle for the second fermentation.
Following fermentation, the wines are aged in barrels or tanks for up to eight or nine months, then blended, filtered and bottled before commencing further fermentation and ageing in bottles. This process can take a minimum of 18 months and a maximum of five years to mature and develop.
One finished bottle involves years' worth of work with intricate, expert detail to produce only the finest English sparkling wine. Even though the hours are long, and days can often turn into nights, especially during harvest, it brings the Hattingley Valley team together for an exhilarating winemaking journey. It's their innovation and passion that helps create their range of English sparkling wines, which we hope you agree with us, are of the highest quality.
Grapes are hand-picked from the vines and transported to the winery
The grapes are gently pressed to release the juice
The wines age in oak barrels or tanks for up to eight to nine months
Meet the experts behind the wine
The core range features a line-up of award-winning bottles including the Classic Reserve, Blanc de Blancs and the Rosé.
One release from Hattingley Valley is the 2013 Blanc de Blancs made from only the best chardonnay grapes, giving it the creamy mouthfeel and a long, complex finish. This sparkling wine is aged for four years and the result is a pale golden wine, with hints of white stoned and citrus fruit and a delicious honeyed character on the nose.
The latest Classic Reserve NV comprises mainly of chardonnay grapes with the addition of some pinot noir, pinot meunier and pinot gris, forming a refreshing and perfectly balanced wine. Pale gold in colour with an abundance of fine bubbles, notes of soft lemon sherbet tease your palate whilst aromas of baked apple, nougat and brioche hit the nose.
This year, their Kings Cuvée won Best Classic Cuvée Vintage and the Vintners' Trophy for Top Sparkling Wine 2020.
I am very much looking forward to visiting our favourite local pub again to meet friends, enjoy fabulous food, and drink great wine and beer, as I'm sure you are too.
I live in Hampshire now, but I grew up across the border in Sussex where my local was The White Horse in Chilgrove. On a normal weekend, you will still find me enjoying a G&T or pint of beer in the bar with my brother. At the beginning of this year we took over the entire pub to celebrate my younger sister's wedding - one of the last gatherings before the pandemic became a global nightmare and lockdown meant The White Horse sadly had to close its doors.
My connection to The White Horse goes back way further and was, in fact, the very reason why I got involved in the winemaking industry. As a schoolgirl and student, I spent five years working weekends and evenings there. At first, delivering sandwiches and clearing glasses in the bar, before I graduated to the restaurant side and got a glimpse into the world of fine wine. The former owner had developed an extensive and impressive wine list, and it was a taste of Krug Champagne from the 1979 vintage that got me hooked; I have not looked back since.
When I trained as a winemaker, I imagined I'd end up working in New Zealand, Australia or California - and I have worked in all those places - but the one place I didn't think I'd be making wine was the South Downs of England. To have travelled all around the world only to end up 30 minutes from home, making award-winning sparkling wines that are enjoyed in the very place I started my odyssey in wine, is an exceptional feeling and incredibly satisfying.
As Head Winemaker at Hattingley Valley, I now often entertain visiting clients at The Woolpack, just down the road from the winery, in the Candover Valley. The food there never fails to please, and the ambience is wonderful!
I wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and fingers crossed for a Happier New Year.