Now available at the Fareham Wine Cellar.
Edit 06/06/15 Please note, since this article was written the ownership of Meonhill Wines has changed. The Chaplin family are no longer involved and it is now a joint venture, since 2014, between founder Didier Pierson and Ian Kellett but separate from Hambledon Vineyard Plc., where he remains MD and Didier has a consultancy role.
Meonhill Wines is made at Little West End Farm near Petersfield in Hampshire and the vineyards are situated on Old Winchester Hill in the South Downs. It is a joint venture between Syd Chaplin, of LEP farms, Imogen Whitaker and Didier Pierson, the owner of a Grand Cru Champagne house, in Avize. The partnership began in 2004.
There are 12 hectares of vineyards and the vines are trained very low compared, to English standards, using the Chablis and the Cordon de Royat systems for the Chardonnay and the Pinot Noir respectively. The vineyards have chalky soils characteristic of the South Downs and which are, geologically, an extension of the chalk soils that run through the Champagne region (and Kent). The steep slopes of the vineyards allow “air-drainage” which to help prevent frost. There can be slight problem with strong winds, but this can help the prevention of mould later in the viticultural year.
The whole vineyard is fenced off to help ward off pests that have a taste for grapes.
Meonhill’s first wine release is the Meonhill Reserve NV; made using the traditional method, including hand-picking,hand-riddling and disgorging, it is a 50:50 blend of the typical Champagne varieties Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, grown on French rootstocks. This is is the culmination of 8 years of hard work. The first wine was made in 2007.
The initial release of Meonhill Wines Reserve is some 5000 bottles and is a blend of three different vintages.
Meonhill Wines Reserve NV is a rich English sparkling wine. It has a pale golden colour, with a fine bead and good mousse. The full and soft nose show aromas of apricot, red fruit (strawberries), white blossom along with slightly autolytic, nutty, yeasty and honeyed characteristics. On the palate there are quite green flavours including, lime and green apple and hints of caramel leading to a nutty, biscuit, brioche-like finish. This is a refreshing wine with very good acidity and a mineral, chalky and lingering finish.
“Impressively clean, well made, well balanced and refreshing. Super-clean debut bottling based on 2008 and 2009 vintages but without much complexity. Half and half Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from near Petersfield, Hampshire, and made by Champenois Didier Pierson.” 16/20 Jancis Robinson, www.jancisrobinson.com
You can see my photographs from a recent trip to the vineyards and winery at Fareham Wine Cellar Flickr or Facebook.