Hambledon Vineyard Tour 2017

Some may say who needs Champagne when we have Sparking wine in this country as good as this, I have sampled a few English wines mostly a tastings and events but it’s not until I tasted these particular bottles (Classic Cuvee & Rose) that I sat up and realised that the Brits actually do make some pretty decent Fizz.

I first tried the Hambledon Classic Cuvee back in January 2016 (and a few times since) and I was so impressed I thought to myself, I must visit the winery sometime soon. Well, it actually took me almost a year and a half but I did finally get around to visiting and let me tell you it was well worth the wait.

I visited with family and friends on the 22nd April 2017 , when we arrived we were personally greeted  by amiable Katrina who is the Wine tour and Education manager, she made us feel really welcome and for the rest of the afternoon was the perfect host and guide with her enthusiasm and wine knowledge and we spent an enjoyable afternoon being shown around the vineyard and wine making facilities, even the sun made an appearance.

Standing by the Chardonnay Vines on the south east slope

The main vineyard incorporates around 100, 000 vines but it was still early in the year and the vines had only just started budding but non the less pretty impressive with its neat immaculate rows of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier vines.

Closer view of the Chardonnay Vines with their two canes

After venturing into the vineyard we were shown the cellar and then onto the main part of the winery itself where the wine is actually made and put into bottles

The actual wine making process is explained here From Grape to Glass the Geology Our Terrior, facts about the Vineyard  and the Wine Making Team

After the tour finished we were treated to a tasting of the Hambledon Classic Cuvee and their Hambledon Classic Cuvee Rose, both excellent but surprisingly our party all agreed on a slight preference for the Rose.

 

 

Bottles resting on lees in the Cellar
French Oak barrels and stainless steel tanks
Sediment ready for disgorging

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hambledon Classic Cuvee

Sat outside in the glorious April sunshine these are my thoughts on both wines.

When poured, this was extremely fizzy with a lively mousse, when it settled the bubbles were very fine and constant. Fairly darkish golden colour with a nose of ripe apples and pears with a hint of biscuit and brioche. On first taste this was taut and refreshingly tart, full of citrus fruits, a little bready but with a lovely creaminess on the finish, which lasted.

 

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Around £27.50

 

Hambledon Classic Cuvee Rose

Don’t really do Rose but I was completely surprised how good this was.

Lovely salmon like colour and heady aromas of fresh red cherries, strawberries and cream. Again lively mousse, with a steady stream of fine bubbles. On first sip I was sold on the intense cherry and cranberry flavour with balanced acidity and creamy finish with a hint of sweetness, lovely stuff.

Everyone in our party enjoyed it and thought it had a elegance about it.

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

Around £35

 

All in all an excellent afternoon in this lovely part of Hampshire and I can guarantee that I will be drinking Hambledon wines again ! 

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Majestic Stratford Upon Avon Fine Wine Tasting April 2017

As regular readers will know that I belong to a wine Forum called ‘Cuvée Reserve’ and once a year our group meet up for a weekend of basically, drinking lots of wine. This year we met at Stratford Upon Avon and we thought we would signed up for a ‘Fine Wine Tasting’ at the local Majestic store. An initial fee of £20 per person was paid but that is redeemable on any wine purchases after the event.

Big thanks to our head girl Clare who runs the forum and for organising everything so superbly !

We arrived at 1.30pm on Saturday the 8th April, an early start for drinking I know but we have to make sacrifices sometime. There was a slight confusion with the time as they had us down for 2.00pm which we found out was their mistake but it wasn’t a problem as we spent the time browsing around the store with a glass of Moet & Chandon 2008 Champagne (is there a better way to shop).

A table was laid out in the corner of the store for us as we finally settled down for the tasting first up was the Moet & Chandon again. This was a beautifully balanced single vintage Champagne full of intense apple and lemon fruit, lively mousse with a pronounced bready, nutty and a creamy aftertaste producing a very long, extremely enjoyable finish and loved by everyone. (Top ups were not refused).

Second wine was a Rosé the Miraval 2015 Cotes de Provence bought by Brad Pitt & Angelina Jolie in 2009 and made by the Perrin family. Pale pink almost Salmon like colour with a very strange almost peaty aroma although there was a hint of strawberry, it just smelt a bit weird. Taste wise again it was not what we expected there were elements of soft fruit including strawberry, peach and pear. Slightly flowery but with a slightly overpowering herby, earthy flavour which most of us found a bit strange, think my wife and I liked it more than the others, so overall a little bit of a miss.

Third was the impressive Greywackey 2016 Sauvignon Blanc from the Marlborough region of New Zealand and made by Cloudy Bay former wine maker Kevin Judd.  From the first sip this was universally applauded by all of us. Superb aromas of gooseberry, grapefruit, flowers and damp freshly mowed grass. On first sip it was greeted by a lot of M’mms and everyone thought it was stunning. Crisp and vibrant, soft acidity with intense flavours of  lemongrass, white flowers, gooseberry and herbs with just a hint of subtle oak rounding it off.  Refills all around and the bottle didn’t last long, superb stuff.

The Last white was an unusual oaked Chardonnay from Italy, the Planeta 2015 with heady aromas of butterscotch, banana and vanilla. On first taste I was initially hit by what tasted like barley sugar along with caramelised banana, there was a creaminess about it and the oak definitely stood out, again this split us although nobody disliked it and I thought it was very good.

With the whites finished next up were the reds starting with a Pinot Noir from Martinborough New Zealand the impressive Escarpment 2014 generally liked by all. Pronounced aromas of soft dark fruits, smokey and earthy. Cherry and plums to the fore with a kick of spice on the palate, earthiness coming through but not intrusive. Nicely balanced wine.

Next up was a big favourite, the Chateau Haut Balailley 2011  but it comes at a price for a whopping £40 per single bottle. Cherries, Cassis and classic pencil shavings on the nose. Love the taste, complex yet harmonious, blackcurrants, cedarwoood, herbs, notable tannins and really really drinkable on its own.  As you can see from the picture we emptied the bottle.

A Gran Reserva Rioja next the Marques de Riscal 2007 this is everything a Rioja should be full of red cherries a little strawberry, leather, incense, oak, candlewax and tobacco. Ten year old wine that went down well with everybody including my wife who doesn’t generally like oakey Riojas, fabulous example of what Spain does well.

This was suppose to be the end of the tasting, but the guys at Majestic (who were very good, amiable and knowledgeable) decided we were enjoying ourselves so much that they opened up another couple of bottle for us to try.

First was another French red the Caronne Ste-Gemme 2011 Haut Medoc and again enjoyed by all, dark ripe blackberries, menthol, tannic, rich and chocolately but this time, I’d have to say, more of a food wine but none the less enjoyable.

Last but not least a black Muscat dessert wine called Elysium 2015 even if you’re not a fan of dessert wines you cannot fail to be impressed with this. smells like Turkish Delight and that rose like flavour carries on in the taste, not overly sweet and a big thumbs up from all around the table.

Thanks to the guys at Majestic for a superb tasting, (one of the better ones I’ve attended) they were very generous letting us drink as much as we wanted and we all went away pretty happy if a little unsteady.

My rating 9/10 Corks (for the whole tasting)

Chardonnay & Greco ??

With the weather this week taking a turn for the better many of us raid the fridge for a nicely chilled bottle of white.

This week I opened two that were very different, one very familiar and the other not so. The first was a French Chardonnay from Morrisons  reduced from £10 to £7 including a very fancy wooden box, the other from Sainsbury’s at £8 an unfamiliar Italian grape called Greco.

Starting with the Chardonnay from the Burgundy region of France which at £7 (reduced at time of buying) seemed like a bit of a bargain as most Burgundy comes with a hefty price tag. In the glass it was a darkish golden colour with aromas of lemon, pear melon and apricots. On first sip it seemed maybe a touch too sweet but had a nice rich texture with the apricots and pears to the fore and a nice creamy finish. Sampled this over a couple of days and I must say it was definitely better on day two.

Next the Greco which is a grape from the Campania region of southern Italy and if you haven’t tried it before and you like Sauvignon Blanc this may well be for you. From Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference range it was a bright light straw colour, fairly muted aromas but there was some crisp red apples and lemon zest. Taste-wise, bright mouth-watering acidity and very refreshing with a touch of pear and a slight nutty almond aftertaste.

Both were nice and reasonably priced with a slight preference for the classy and bright tasting Greco Di Tufo.

Macon Aze Chardonnay, Morrisons £10 (on offer £7)

My Rating 7/10 Corks

 

Greco Di Tufo, Sainsbury’s £8

My Rating 8/10 Corks