Hambledon is located on the South Downs in Hampshire and is England’s oldest commercial vineyard, originally established by Major General Sir Guy Salisbury-Jones in 1952. Following a multi-million pound regeneration of the estate by Ian Kellett and his family, who bought the property in 1999. Intrigued by the properties winemaking heritage Ian undertook extensive research which convinced him that sparkling wines were the future and in 2005 Ian planted a 10-acre ‘test bed’ of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier to see which of the 27 different combinations of vine clones and root-stocks gave the best results. Geology has played a key role in the planning for Hambledon Vineyard. The chalk on which we grow our vines was formed on the seabed of the Paris basin some 65 million years ago. It is part of the Newhaven Chalk formation that developed between the Santonian and Campanian eras of the Upper Cretaceous period (known as the Senonien period in Champagne). The same chalk, with the same Belemnite content, is found in the best Chardonnay areas of the Côtes des Blancs in Champagne and is thought to be a key factor in the quality of the wines. Today the Hambledon estate comprises 50 acres of vineyards and a new gravity-fed, state-of-the-art winery – the only one of its kind in the UK.
The bouquet is rich and warm exuding Seville orange and brioche aromas, with hints of dried flowers and toasted hazelnuts. The palate is explosive, with mouthwatering acidity and dried apricot and citrus. The mouthfeel is a silky soft foam of tingling sparks. The finish shows undertones of vanilla and and salted caramel, ending again with that fresh, vivid, orangery tang. Very dry, long and immensely complex.