Edit: 08/05/18 Please note, that although we no longer stock Meonhill Wines, but we do stock some fantastic Hampshire Sparkling Wines from our local producers Hambledon Vineyard, Cottonworth Wine and Raimes Sparkling. Since I wrote this blog post Hambledon Vineyard has acquired Meonhill and Didier Pearson is now part of the Hambledon team (as well as his many other projects!).
At long last we have received our first sample of Meonhill Chardonnay Brut. As you may know Meonhill is the one of the best English Sparkling wine producers in Hampshire. It is located about 10 miles away near Droxford and is co-owned by land-owner Sid Chapplin and Champagne producer Didier Pierson, who brings his considerable sparkling wine producing knowledge to the project. If you want to know more about Meonhill wines please read my other blog posts here and here.
Firstly I would like to discuss the packaging, I think it is important. I like the original packaging on the Meonhill Brut Reserve, it is smart, clean and gives you all the information that one might require (although the words brut and reserve are a little small). If you can’t see the colours in the photographs, the main background colour of the label is gold. The main background colour of the Meonhill Chardonnay Brut label is silver, but in most lights it is very difficult to tell the two apart, and I think you can see that in the photographs. I would like to see a bigger difference in the labels, they look too similar as they are, the colours, or something else, need to be more distinctly different.
The name is another thing that worries me. Whether you like it or not, the name Chardonnay is still a massive turn off for many people, the ABC (Anything But Chardonnay) crowd still exists and I don’t think there is any benefit to labelling a sparkling wine as Chardonnay….especially when you have a ready made term like Blanc de Blancs! Most wine drinkers know the term Blanc de Blancs from Champagne and, whilst they many may not know that it signifies the wine is made from 100% Chardonnay, there is an association (whether true or not) that a Blanc de Blancs is a better quality wine, probably because they are normally more expensive than standard cuvées. It is odd that a wine co-owned and produced by a Champagne producer would not see this. A lot of Blanc de Blancs Champagne is sold in clear glass bottles to differentiate it from a producer’s main cuvée. Bottling the Meonhill Chardonnay Brut in a clear glass bottle, for me, would be an obvious step.
Anyway, enough of my ramblings. The proof of the pudding is in the eating, as they say.
Meonhill Chardonnay Brut has a pale golden, light straw colour and has a fine bead with plenty of small bubbles. The nose is quite floral with hints of sweet honeysuckle, rose notes with slighty chalky notes but dominated by creamy /citrus aromas. On the palate the wine has a good expansive mousse with a touch of sweetness at the front of the palate. The palate finishes dry however, with green gooseberry notes and a really clean, crisp finish and lively acidity. A very nice wine, fresher and crisper than Meonhill’s Brut reserve that will hopefully gain a bit more complexity and weight with some more bottle age. Very good.