Hattingley Valley

Philip Day reviews Hattingley Valley.

This article about Hattingley Valley includes the history, viticulture and product portfolio.

Hattingley Valley

The remarkable rise of Hampshire as one of England’s premier sparkling wine producing regions over the last few years is a testament to the faith and skill of an expanding group of wine producers, whose efforts have been rewarded by national and international recognition through the numerous awards their wines have earned.

Hattingley Valley

Image – Electric Eye Photography

Established in 2008 by Simon Robinson, Hattingley Valley is one of the most significant producers in the region, nestled amongst acres of Hampshire farmland, in which is located a cluster of producers that have come to be commonly referred to as the ‘Vineyards of Hampshire’. The company, an internationally acclaimed winemakers can be found near the charming market town of Alresford in Hampshire.

History

Hattingley Valley is a family owned grower and producer of predominantly premium English Sparkling Wine in Lower Wield, Hampshire.

The initial vineyards (7.3 hectares (18 acres) on a south-facing site) were planted with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier root stock in 2008, under the watchful eye of business man and owner Simon Robinson, using laser-guided planting technology.

In 2010, Simon Robinson linked up with winemaker Emma Rice, after being impressed by her ambitious nature and passion for wine-making. Although at the start, they produced wines on a small-scale, they took the decision quite early on to work in conjunction with other local producers.

Hattingley Valley

Coquard & Tanks

Currently, the concern manages over 24 hectares (60 acres) of vines across two well-situated sites, specifically chosen to provide excellent growing conditions.

In the same year, the company’s biggest investment in the future, an eco-friendly custom-built winery, equipped with the latest technology from continental Europe was completed.

Sitting proudly at the centre of the winery is a state of the art ‘pressoir Coquard’ – a 4 tonne press, famed for its slow, gentle pressing action permitting the very best juice extraction into segregated tanks. The press is surrounded by a vast array of fermentation tanks of all sizes and has access to two adjoining winery rooms, allowing varietal and block segregated fermentation.

In addition to the impressive facilities based at the main Hattingley site, an equally large off-site warehouse is used to store extensive amounts of Hattingley and contract-customer wines, either undergoing their secondary fermentation stage or as finished disgorged stock.

Appellation

English Sparkling Wine

Owner

Hattingley Valley Wines Ltd.

Planted Acreage

Total:  24 hectares (60 acres)

Grape varieties

Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Noir Précoce, Chardonnay, Pinot Gris and Bacchus

Wines produced

See below

Terroir

(US terroir)

Shallow flinty loam over chalk / flinty clay over chalk  and cool climate growing conditions that closely mirror those found in Champagne. Its best vineyards tend to be south facing, allowing increased sun exposure

Production

500,000 bottle capacity

Top Vintages Produced

See below

Viticulture

The vineyard is situated on chalk bedrock, which is similar geologically to that present in Northern France, spanning across some 60 acres and spread over two meticulously maintained sites. This specific type of terrain together with its generally cool climate growing conditions, which also closely mirror those found in the Champagne region of France, provide the perfect conditions in order to create sparkling grape varieties. By ensuring that quality and innovation are at the forefront of everything they do, the company’s distinctive blends are as authentic as they are delicious. This philosophy has quickly helped turn Hattingley Valley into one of the country’s most respected producers of English sparkling wines.

Hattingley Valley

Image – Electric Eye Photography

The vineyard team of dedicated viticulturists, overseen by Emma Rice (head winemaker) and Romain Henrion (vineyard consultant), who assisted by Thomas Birkett, Alan Spicer and Colin Hayward continually evaluate the Hampshire terroir and experiment by planting a range of grape varieties and root stock in order to achieve the very best fruit-bearing vines. They have pioneered techniques in wind and frost protection, irrigation, nutrient application and canopy management.

Hattingley Valley

Image – Electric Eye Photography

Throughout the growing year, they nurture the vines, with an environmentally sensitive approach to viticulture to secure optimum ripeness, yield and fruit quality. It is they who decide when the grapes are perfectly ripe to pick and then set to work. Each bunch is carefully hand picked to prevent any damage to the grapes.

From grape to glass, each team member ensures that every stage of the process is carefully fulfilled.

Further production is now entrusted to the wine-making team, made up of  two of the industry’s brightest stars; Emma Rice (Director/head winemaker) and Jacob Leadly as lead winemakers aided by a skilled winery team.  The business also has a strong focus on developing talent too, with the UK’s first winemaking apprentice scheme that has brought on board Zoë Driver who has just completed her two year role as apprentice winemaker.

The gathered grapes are rushed to the winery to be pressed as soon as possible in 20kg crates to avoid any premature squashing. Once loaded into the Coquard press, gentle pressure is applied to the grapes in order to minimise the extraction of undesirable colour and tannins, resulting in a juice of the finest quality possible from the carefully nurtured Hampshire grapes.

Next, this quality juice is then fermented into a fairly neutral base wine using a special champagne yeast.

Hattingley Valley employs the traditional method for making sparkling wine: Méthode Champenoise. However a key element of Hattingley’s style is the subtle use of old Burgundian oak barrels to ferment a small proportion, approximately 20%, of the wines each year, with the remainder in stainless steel tanks. The use of oak barrels helps to add texture and softness into the final wine blend before the wine goes into bottles for the second fermentation. Partial malolactic fermentation is utilised, to soften the green malic acid found in the grapes to softer lactic acid, subject to the winemaker’s discretion.

The art of blending aims to ensure a consistency of style from year to year and to identify the different types of wine we make. Reserve wine from previous vintages may also be added to the current blend at this point. The wine-making team call on their experience of tasting the individual wines over the years to perfect this art.

At the stage the wine is bottled, tirage liqueur – a mixture of fermentable sugar and yeast must be added, in order to induce a second, slower fermentation in the bottle.

The second fermentation can take anything from 6-12 weeks to complete, adding approximately 1.5% alcohol to the final wine and trapping the build up of carbon dioxide, creating the perlage of the bubbles.  To further maximise quality and delectability, the wine must undergo a period of ‘autolysis’ by spending ‘time on lees’, which means having a sufficient period of time in contact with the dead yeast cells in the bottle. This ageing period gives the wine more complexity, usually denoted by bread, toast or brioche notes, characteristic of long lees-aged wines. The high acidity of the grapes and juice enables the wine to withstand this ageing period and aid its significant improvement.

Hattingley Valley

External Tanks – Image by Michael Boudot

Once the winemakers decide when the wine has attained its optimum moment (possibly after a number of years) the wines are riddled on a Gyropallet, which can handle 2000 bottles at a time and takes the horizontal bottles and slowly moves them to a vertical position, moving the yeast sediment to the neck of the bottle. This process takes about seven days and is a crucial part of the sparkling wine-making process.

Traditionally, this riddling (or in French remuage) used to take place manually over the course of several weeks, with wine cellar workers called remueurs performing the task on each individual bottle. The Gyropallet performs the same task automatically on many bottles at the same time, moving the bottles in such a way, which emulates the action of a remueur by means of motors and automatic controls. However, the magnums continue to be hand riddled.

The neck of the bottle is then frozen so that the plug of frozen yeast sediment can be removed (French: ‘dégorgement’), by being ejected under pressure when the bottle is opened, with minimum loss of wine and pressure. The disgorging line then adds the dosage liqueur of wine and sugar and a butterfly cork and wire hood (French ‘muselet’), resulting in the finished product – a beautiful bottle of English sparkling wine. Finally, the bottle is labelled in-house. The labels for each wine are designed by the Hattingley team to give each wine its own identity.

Hattingley Valley

Tasting Room – Image by Michael Boudot

Hattingley Valley’s pioneering techniques mean it is ahead of the curve and its distinctive approach fuses current technologies and traditional methods impeccably. It is these distinguished practices that have resulted in a range of highly celebrated elegant wines.

The team continue to demonstrate immense pride in their work and must be delighted that their joint efforts have been recognised by so many international and national wine industry awards.

The extensive collection of awards for Hattingley Valley’s array of English sparkling wines includes numerous gold medals and trophies awarded by Sommelier Wine Awards, WineGB (formerly UKVA competition) and the prestigious Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships. 2016 saw a one hundred percent success rate for Hattingley Valley with every wine entered into six of the top wine competitions being awarded a medal.

Hattingley Valley

Hattingley Classic Reserve wins Wine of the Year at Wessex Wine Competition 2017

The vineyards director Emma Rice has twice been awarded Winemaker of the Year at the English and Welsh Wine of the Year Competition and is the first woman in her field to achieve such a prestigious title.

Sparkling wines produced by Hattingley Valley:

Hattingley Valley NV Classic Reserve (also NV Classic Reserve Magnum)

50% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, 19% Pinot Meunier, 1% Pinot Gris, with an

ABV of 12%. Made up of a blend of several vintage wines (18% reserve wines).

Some 15% of this wine was barrel fermented in old White Burgundy barrels and partial malolactic fermentation took place in order to soften the wine’s natural acidity. After blending, the wine underwent secondary fermentation in the bottle and spent a minimum of 18 months ageing on its lees and at least 5 months on cork before release.

  • Sommelier Wine Awards, 2018: Gold
  • WineGB Awards, 2018: Gold + The Dudley Quirk Trophy (MOST OUTSTANDING CLASSIC CUVÉE NV)
  • International Wine & Spirit Competition, 2018: Silver Outstanding
  • Decanter World Wine Awards, 2018: Silver
  • International Wine Challenge, 2017: Gold

Hattingley Valley

Image – Electric Eye Photography

Hattingley Valley Rosé 2014

60% Pinot Noir, 38% Pinot Meunier, 2% Pinot Noir Précoce with an ABV of 12.5%

Approximately 8% of the blend was fermented in 4-5 year old Burgundy barrels. Before Tirage the base wines were blended with 2% red wine made from Pinot Noir Précoce to give a delicate soft pink colour and some vibrant red fruit flavours. The wine spent a minimum 18 months ageing on lees in the bottle before being disgorged with 8g/L dosage.

  • The Independent English Wine Awards, 2018: Gold
  • International Wine Challenge, 2018: Silver
  • Sommelier Wine Awards, 2018: Silver
  • The Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships, 2017: Gold
  • Wessex Vineyards Association Annual Wine Competition, 2017: Gold + ‘Wine of the Year’ Trophy

(2013 vintage)

  • Champagne & Sparkling Wine Championship, 2016: Gold & Best in class
  • Decanter World Wine Awards, 2016: Silver
  • International Wine & Spirit Competition, 2016: Silver Outstanding
  • UKVA Awards, 2016: Gold & Trophy
  • Sommelier Wine Awards, 2016: Gold
  • Wessex Vineyards Association Annual Wine Competition, 2016: Gold & ‘Wine of the Year’ Trophy
  • International Wine Challenge, 2016: Bronze

Hattingley Valley

Image – Electric Eye Photography

(2011 vintage)

  • The Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships, 2014: Gold + Trophy ‘World Champion Vintage Rosé’
  • Decanter World Wine Awards, 2014: Gold
  • UKVA Wine Competition of the Year, 2014: Gold
  • Sommelier Wine Awards, 2014: Silver
  • International Wine & Spirit Competition, 2014: Silver

Hattingley Valley Demi-Sec 2013

59% Pinot Noir, 36% Pinot Meunier, 5% Pinot Noir Précoce, with an ABV of 11%. Hattingley’s first ever Demi-Sec. Approximately 10% of the blend was fermented in old Burgundy barrels and partial malolatic fermentation took place to provide round and creamy structure. The wine was aged on lees for five months in the barrel and a further three years in bottle before disgorging with 38g/L dosage.

Hattingley Valley Sparkling Red Pinot 2015

83% Pinot Noir and 17% Pinot Noir Précoce, with an ABV of 12%. Around 80% of the total blend was fermented in 4-5 year old Burgundy barrels and left to age for six months to add depth and structure. The wine spent a further 13 months on lees in the bottle before being disgorged with 5g/L dosage, then an additional four months on cork before release.

Hattingley Valley Blanc de Blancs 2011 (also available in magnum)

100% Chardonnay with an ABV of 12%. Approximately 10% of the wine was fermented in old Burgundy barrels and no malolactic fermentation took place to ensure that the zesty acidity shines through. The wine spent eight months in tank and barrel before undergoing secondary fermentation in the bottle, with four years ageing on its lees in order to soften the acidity and gain critical lees-aged character. It then underwent at least 5 additional months on cork before release.

  • Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships, 2017: Gold + Trophy ‘World Champion Blanc de Blancs’
  • Sommelier Wine Awards, 2017: Silver
  • Decanter World Wine Awards, 2017: Silver
  • Champagne & Sparkling Wine Championship, 2016: Gold & Best in class (future release)
  • UKVA Awards, 2016: Gold

(2010 Vintage)

  • Sommelier Wine Awards, 2015: Silver
  • The Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships, 2015: Silver
  • UKVA Awards, 2015: Silver
  • Decanter World Wine Awards, 2015: Bronze
  • International Wine & Spirit Competition, 2015: Bronze
  • International Wine Challenge, 2015: Silver

Hattingley Valley

Image – Electric Eye Photography

Hattingley Valley Kings Cuvee 2013

70% Chardonnay, 30% Pinot Noir, with an ABV of 12%. A very limited release, the Kings Cuvée is a premium blend which is 100% barrel fermented and then aged for 8 months in 4-5 year old oak barrels. After rigorous taste tests, only the top 7 barrels were selected out of 180 available. Once bottled the wine spent another 30 months on lees and a minimum of 6 months on cork prior to release.

  • WineGB Awards, 2018: Gold
  • The Norman Cowderoy Founder’s Trophy (MOST OUTSTANDING PRESTIGE CUVÉE)

Hattingley Valley

Non sparkling wines produced by Hattingley Valley:

Hattingley Valley ‘Entice’ Dessert Wine, 2016 (Sold Out)

Made from 100% Bacchus grapes with an ABV of 8.5%. Described as “An elegant handcrafted English dessert wine which is full of the powerful aromas of peach and elderflower, while crisp English acidity perfectly balances the sweetness to give a pure, lasting finish.”  It has been produced by blending the method of ice wine production with a late harvest style wine. Sold in a 37.5cl bottle.

Hattingley Valley AV Aqua Vitae (ABV 40%)

Five-times distilled Chardonnay from the 2015 vintage. By using premium English grown Chardonnay grapes, top quality copper pot distillation and the latest technology, Hattingley Valley has product up to date.

The Chardonnay grapes from the 2015 vintage were hand harvested earlier than usual from the vineyards in order to retain a high level of acidity specifically for the project. The grapes were whole bunch pressed and fermented in exactly the same way that is used for the production of its sparkling wine. Once the fermentation had finished, 7500 litres of chardonnay were sent off to a specialist distiller who used small copper pot stills for the distillation of the spirit. In order to achieve the best quality spirit, the distillation process was repeated five times, thereby concentrating and refining the product on each occasion. On the palate, the company describe the spirit as “smooth and textured with a medium weight body. Liquorice and spicy notes appear and blend well with the honey flavours that initially appear on the nose. A very smooth clean finish.

  • International Wine & Spirit Competition, 2016: Silver

Hattingley Valley in the news

  • In 2017 Hattingley’s Blanc de Blancs 2011 Magnum came away from the prestigious Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships (CSWWC) as World Champion by style. The same wine also picked up a Gold Medal, Best in Class English Magnum and Best in Class English Blanc de Blancs. This makes Hattingley Valley the first English wine producer to win two World Champion titles in this prestigious competition, with the Rosé 2011 crowned World Champion Vintage Rosé in the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships in 2014.

Hattingley Valley

Image – Electric Eye Photography

  • 2017 Simon Robinson becomes Chairman of UK Wine Producers Limited (Wine GB)
  • June 2018 saw the announcement of the results of the Wine GB Awards 2018. Hattingley Valley picked up two trophies.

Contact details:

Address: Hattingley Valley Wines, Wield Yard, Lower Wield, Nr. Alresford, Hampshire, SO24 9AJ

Telephone: +44 (0)1256 389188

Internet: http://www.hattingleyvalley.co.uk

E-mail: office@hattingleyvalley.co.uk

Facebook: @hattingleyvalley

Twitter: @hattingleywines

Instagram: hattingleywines

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