Hampshire sparkling wine estate Hambledon is preparing to release its first prestige cuvée sparkling rosé – a 100% Pinot Meunier.
The Hambledon Première Cuvée Rosé is set to become Hambledon’s most expensive ever bottling, with a retail price that is likely to be more than £100, according to Hambledon managing director Ian Kellett.
Kellett is hopeful that the saignée method cuvée will be ready for release in ‘September or October’ this year, however early in the new year is also a possibility, a Hambledon spokesperson said.
The wine is currently in tank and must first undergo dosage trials with the winery team, led by head winemaker Hervé Jestin, who has produced highly regarded rosé champagne for Duval-Leroy. Kellett exclusively told Imbibe that he is inclined to keep the wine at zero-dosage.
The wine has been made with 100% Pinot Meunier grapes from the lower slope of the estate’s chalk-based Home Vineyard. All of the grapes are from the 2015 vintage – however the vintage will not be stated on the label and the plan going forward is to release the wine as a multi-vintage blend.
The first release will be made in extremely limited quantities of ‘fewer than 1,000 bottles’, Kellett revealed, and will ‘push the pricing envelope’, possibly ‘into three figures’. This would make it only the second English wine to be released at a retail price of more than £100, following Chapel Down’s Kit’s Coty Coeur de Cuvée.
The wine, which will be presented in a presentation gift-box, will sit alongside Hambledon’s Première Cuvée Brut and will be sold through Hambledon’s distributor, Berry Brothers and Rudd.
It is expected that existing key on-trade accounts will have priority on allocations.
The wine has been made using the saignée method, an unusual method for sparkling rosé production used by Laurent-Perrier in Champagne. This has given the wine a darker colour than Hambledon’s Classic Cuvée rose and a more pronounced texture and complex fruit profile.
For Kellett, the wine marks the first occasion on which Hambledon has strayed from its focused core portfolio to ‘experiment’ with a ‘different kind of wine’. Currently only one other English winery produces a 100% Meunier – Exton Park, which is based around five miles north on the chalk uplands of the Meon Valley.
‘If I look at our general business here, what we’re trying to do is to learn from Champagne generally, try to understand what the root causes are and then implement them to the nth degree,’ Kellett said. ‘But with this [wine]we haven’t. We haven’t tried to learn from anybody else, we’ve just genuinely tried to do something different. I don’t know of a single saignée-made 100% meunier rosé.
‘We’re trying to create a really different kind of wine, where we’re taking that somewhat rustic, smoky, leathery, tobaccoey [character], a little bit like Burgundy [but]it’s about lightness. It’s a very light wine by its nature and in terms of its texture, but you also get all those tobaccoey, smoky, leathery layers into it with good fruit, then you put bubbles in and it lifts the lightness even further. That’s what I mean about trying to do something very different. It’s not like a champagne or sparkling wine kind of style – it’s something that’s trying to be a completely different.’
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