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Wednesday 30 July 2014

Hambledon opens door for expansion

11th April, 2014 by Gabriel Savage

English sparkling wine producer Hambledon Vineyard has created the potential to more than double its production by acquiring 46 acres from neighbouring Hampshire estate Meonhill.

Hambledon Vineyard in Hampshire

Hambledon Vineyard in Hampshire

The financial details of the deal have not been disclosed, but it also includes “certain bulk reserve wine stocks”, which will allow Hambledon to draw on a greater supply of reserve wine for its sparkling production. In a separate, private deal, Hambledon owner and managing director Ian Kellett has acquired Meonhill’s sur latte stock.

Of the 46 acres bought from Meonhill, around 11 acres are currently under vine and are thought to be the only English vineyards to use the Champagne trellising system, which offers twice the density of the standard UK planting system.

As with the existing 20 hectares of vineyard on the Hambledon estate, the Meonhill vines are all Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Pinot Meunier. As a result, Hambledon’s team now plants to run trials over the next three years in order to determine the differences between identical clone and rootstock combinations according to their trellis system.

While Hambledon’s winemaking team will continue to be led by Hervé Jestin, former chef de caves at Champagne Duval-Leroy, Meonhill’s winemaker and founding shareholder Didier Pierson will stay on as a consultant. The new vineyards will now fall under the remit of Hambledon’s vineyard management Peter Crabtree.

Announcing the deal, Kellett commented: “this expansion is consistent with Hambledon Vineyard’s strategy of expanding its sparkling wine vineyards, locally in Hampshire, in order to develop one of the leading English sparkling wine brands.”

Highlighting Meonhill’s geological base of Upper Cretaceous chalk, Kellett described this as “consistent with Hambledon’s determination to only grow the three classic Champagne varieties on chalk based soils”, as he added: “we are confident that our Champagne trained winemaking team will continue to get the best from our grapes.”

Kellett originally bought the Hambledon property in 1999 after spending 10 years working as a food analyst in the global equity market for Dresdner Kleinwort Benson.

The estate is due to launch the first commercial sparkling wine under its own name, the Hambledon Classic Cuvée NV, on 6 May this year.

Click here to see pictures from the drinks business’ visit to Hambledon for last year’s harvest.

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