I will spill the beans about the quality of this sparkling wine before I write the note, if I may, because I have a point to make. When The Editor and I tried this wine we were really impressed. It is definitely further proof, if it were needed, that one of my life dreams has come true: I live in a fine wine region.
This made me think, “People need to know! I would love to tell them!”. So I emailed Vineyards of Hampshire, who represent this producer of sparkling wine and several others, supposedly of good quality, and asked if they were doing any trade tastings of their portfolio in the future that The Editor and I could attend and then publicise the quality of the wines using this, my remarkably popular organ.
The reply I received basically said, “No, there are no tastings that you can attend. However, we are perfectly happy for you to publicise our wines at your own expense!”
No, that is not how it works.
Even if I were not an unemployed lunatic (therefore with financial problems when it comes to buying a lot of wine) who is not allowed to drive (therefore having severe difficultly getting to vineyards in the Hampshire sticks), telling the publisher of a very popular wine website whom is offering to give you a lot of publicity for bugger all outlay to just fuck off and just buy the wines himself seems a poor method of enamouring yourself with that publisher.
Consequently, although I loved the wine and still feel the world needs to know (plus I promised the person who gave it to me I would write it up – I am not sure I would have done otherwise), I felt fine in taking my own good time to publish the note. I wrote the note a few weeks ago when we drank the wine and publishing it on a Sunday ensures a minimum of my readers will read about it immediately on hitting the web. To the note – in your own good time, of course…
Rosé 2014, Hattingley Valley
This is only made with Pinot variety grapes and the nose sings a beguiling song about how beautifully those grapes perform in Hampshire limestone. Indeed, all the Hampshire sparklers I have tried that really tweak my tweakable bits have been mostly or entirely made from Pinot varieties. Pinot Meunier seems to do particularly well here.
It is a breathtaking nose of stunning purity and finesse, with the main aroma being an arrestingly bright and fresh wild strawberry scent. The precise focus of it is totally compelling.
What seems slightly odd about the nose, odd but good, is that it has a suggestion of power to it. The wine is a tad more alcoholic than the Hampshire fizz I drink most regularly, but I don’t think that is the cause of this.
A proportion of the juice for this wine is fermented in old oak casks and this, I feel, has allowed the wine, although it is a model of pure elegance, to have an edge of powerful complexity that enhances the nose no end. It is so beautiful, so refined, so involute.
However, one thing this wine is not is ‘striving to be Champagne’. Bloody good job too! This is an expression of Coteaux de Hampshire and is obvious proud to be judged on its own merits rather than its similarity to a different style of wine.
The best Coteaux de Hampshire sparkling wines I have tried all share an elegance and beautifully classy restraint that I rarely encounter in quite such a desirable form in wines from other regions. Hence, Hampshire is a fine wine region!
The palate has the most titillating of fine mousses – it is certainly alive with bubbles, but they are not the course fizziness of supermarket Champagne. Instead, this is upmarket!
That delicious wild strawberry fruit explodes on your palate with astonishing complexity and tremendous élan. It is really complex too. As it is backed up by that power from the old wood fermentation you feel that this is pleasuring you immensely as you chew it around your mouth! There are so many subtle flavours to discover! So many delights to extract!
It is a dizzyingly complex, supremely sapid drink to imbibe – you feel refreshed, you feel energised, you feel enlightened! All those lovely Pinot and lovely Coteaux de Hampshire flavours make this fabulously engrossing. It is not another toasty, bready type of sparkler, it is a fruity, mineral, delicately vinous wine. It is a great Hampshire wine!
You really feel this on the finish where, like so many other good Hampshire sparklers I have tried, your palate is gripped by an intense chalkiness. The limestone of Hampshire’s best vineyards does speak very clearly when the wine is made sympathetically to the terroir. This clearly has been.
This is not wildly expensive, it is refreshing, beautiful and delightfully fruity, it is all you could ask for from a Coteaux de Hampshire rosé fizz. I am smitten and will buy more, although heaven alone knows who sells this nectar…