Hush Heath Estate English winery

Following my recent visit to Hambledon winery in Hampshire I set off for another enjoyable day at another English winery this time in sunny Staplehurst, Kent (Garden of England) and the serene and immaculately manicured Hush Heath Estate famous for its Balfour sparkling wines especially the award-winning Balfour Brut Rosé

The welcome courtyard

Set in 400 acres of vineyards, orchards and woodland this really was a lovely way to spend a few hours strolling around the grounds, visiting the winery and best of all actually tasting the wines.

The tour of the orchard and vineyards lasted about an hour and a half before finishing with a look around their state of the art wine making facilities, unfortunately I couldn’t take any photographs.

During the stroll our guide showed us the orchard where they grow a variety of apples which make their various ciders and apple juice followed by their equally impressive vineyard where they grow the typical Champagne grapes  which are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for their sparklers.

The tour was informative as well as being very enjoyable and the weather was perfect if a little hot but what impressed me most was how beautifully kept the Estate was, it really was immaculate.

After the tour we assembled in their tasting tent for a sample of two Sparkling wines, one still red and last but not least the cider.

In the tasting tent

Balfour Brut Rosé 

First up was their flagship award-winning Rosé………. This was given a big thumbs up by all who tasted it. Lovely pale salmon colour with a lively stream of fine bubbles. Aromas of Strawberries, plums and vanilla with a  Crisp, refreshing and long finish.

Balfour Leslie’s Reserve

Next was my favourite, named after the producers wife from selected Cuvées.  As I have said before who needs Champagne when English sparkling wine tastes as good as this. With a minimum of at least 12 months Lees ageing this was fresh light and had a fruity sweetness about it. Again universally enjoyed by everyone.

Hush Heath Pinot Noir

Only tasted one of the still wines  which was a Pinot Noir, very fruit forward and light full of cherries and raspberries with a slight herbal kick. Not enough depth for me but it has won awards and I would quite happily drink it, maybe it needed to be  chilled slightly to taste it at its best.

There was also some of the Jake’s Orchard sparkling ciders to try namely Nettle and Strawberry & blackcurrant, if you’re a fan of cider these were very good.

The Sparkling wines were definitely the stars and they were very proud of them and rightly so even if they were a little on the expensive side.

Goudhurst Boutique Inn
My wife and stayed at ‘The Goudhurst Inn’ a few miles away, this boutique pub owned by Hush Heath was the perfect retreat after a hard days wine touring. The pub featured most of the wines we tasted and we enjoyed another couple of glasses of the excellent Balfour Leslie’s Reserve with a very nice dinner.

 

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Chapel Down Bacchus 2015

For anyone who hasn’t tasted the delights of English wine, why not? This Bacchus from Chapel Down winery nestled in the Kent countryside is an absolute beauty, especially for those of you who are Sauvignon Blanc fans.

The only downside I can see to any English vino is the price, most of it tends to be pretty expensive and the CD Bacchus is no exception coming in at anywhere between £10-£14 but unlike some wines I’d be pretty happy to pay full price for this quality. This particular bottle I bought for £9.99 (discounted from Waitrose) which is about the cheapest I’ve seen it, so far.

So what’s it like? well, pretty decent is my view, with its understated plain black label but it kind of works and definitely makes it stand out on the shelf and cries out quality which I must say, it is.

In the glass it’s a very pale straw like colour with pronounced aromas of grapefruit, lemon, limes and something herbaceous. Once that first sip is taken you’ll be hooked on what tastes like fresh nettles, followed by grapefruit, grass and limes. It’s intense and very sharp. Some say it’s the English equivalent of Sauvignon Blanc and I have to say it has a lot of similar characteristics but with a little more of that bracing acidity.

Fantastically refreshing on a hot summers day, this is a quality wine and loved by my wife who regular readers will know is a staunch Sovee Bee fan. I for one will buy this again and when it’s on offer, it’s a tenners worth well spent.

My Rating 8.5/10 Corks

£9.99 ( on offer) Waitrose  usually around £13

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 ! 

Hambledon Classic Cuvée

Hambledon sparklingSome 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, notably Nyetimber and Chapel Down and both are very good but it’s not until I tasted this particular bottle that I sat up and realised that the Brits do make some pretty decent sparkling wines.

This wine is made in the south downs, Hampshire, the Hambledon vineyard was established in 1952 and bought by Ian Kellett in 1999.

My daughters boyfriend brought this Hambledon Classic Cuvée around for us all to try, having never tasted English bubbles before. I was only too happy to open it up as I was very keen to try it as well.

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.

There was a small drop left which we finished the next day and both my wife and I thought it was even better, with it still retaining some fizz and bubbles, still with that refreshing acidity but with a much more creamy taste.

So did we enjoy it ? a resounding yes and on the strength of this bottle I plan to visit Hambledon vineyard when the weather gets better, looking forward to it already.

8corks

 

My Rating 8/10 Corks

Around £29