Hattingley Valley are one of England’s best-known sparkling wine producers, sourcing from some 25-or-so hectares of grapes, and arguably England’s largest contract sparkling wine producer. England has a relatively long history in serious sparkling wine production, and is quickly gaining attention in influencer circles for the interest and personality of these wines. Acidity, searing, tight, bright, is endemic in the wines, making them quite unique in shape and form. Fascinating to see them start coming into the Australian market, and should be on the ‘to do list’ of sparkling wine and Champagne lovers.
Hattingley Valley was established in 2008, when Simon Robinson planted the first south-facing site. He and “extraordinarily talented” (says Matthew Jukes) winemaker Emma Rice then planned the modern, eco-friendly winery in Wield, which was completed in 2010. It released its first wine in August 2013, and a year later was declared to have made the world's finest vintage rosé in the Champagne and Sparkling Wine World Championships - a competition led by Tom Stevenson, the man regarded as the world's number one Champagne authority. The wines have gone on picking up accolades and trophies like they’re going out of fashion, showing both their prowess and intent. Jukes calls the 2011 Classic Cuvée “one of the nation’s greatest wines” while the 2013 Rosé impresses with its “sublime flavours and incredible class”. That same wine won gold and best in class at this year’s Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships, as did the 2011 Blanc de Blancs. Hattingley Valley is a fresh face in the world of wine, as well as a brand-spanking new presence here in Australia. But it’s easy to see why Jancis Robinson is “particularly thrilled” by the dramatic progress made by the English wine industry over the past few years. “I love the fact that English sparkling wine is (a) made with such competence and consistency nowadays and (b) that it has its own discernible, ultra-refreshing, hedgerow-in-a-glass style,” she adds. For sure, climate patterns, maturing reserve stocks and advances in vineyard and cellar - allied to ancient chalk slopes - paint an alluring picture for the future of English fizz. It’s time to take the plunge.