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Hush Heath adds new sparkling tier

English wine producer Hush Heath Estate has introduced a “more approachable” range to help broaden the appeal of English sparkling wine.

Named 1503, after the year in which the estate’s Hush Heath Manor was built, the new range features white, rosé and red sparkling wines with an RRP of around £22. The trio are made from the Kent property’s younger vineyards, as well as the second pressing of grapes used for the £35.99 main Balfour brand. They also have a slightly higher dosage of 12g/l compared to Balfour’s 8g/l.

Explaining the commercial rationale behind this new range, Hush Heath’s sales & marketing manager Hilary Green told the drinks business: “Balfour does well for us but the price point means it marginalises itself slightly; we’re not taking advantage of the wider market. With Prosecco and sparkling wine in general on the rise we felt it was important to have something under £25, but we had to make sure there was enough of a jump so that we didn’t take sales from Balfour.”

The first release of the 1503 white and rosé, which are available exclusively through English wine specialist bar The Wine Pantry in London’s Borough Market, is based on a combination of the 2010 and 2011 vintages, and Green confirmed that 1503 would remain a non vintage style.

“We’re building up our reserve stocks for 1503,” she commented. “To come in as a non vintage helps us protect ourselves in poorer vintages and gives us a bit more freedom.”

As for the decision by winemaker Owen Elias to make a sparkling red style, Green remarked: “There’s so much experimentation going on – we’re such a young industry.” Made from 100% Pinot Noir, the wine is based on the 2012 vintage, with Green noting: “For red sparkling you don’t want too much time on the lees.” She recommended it as a good partner for charcuterie or as “great pizza wine.”

Although the sparkling red’s smaller quantities mean that it will be mostly sold through Hush Heath’s pub group subsidiary The Cunning Plan, Green outlined an intention to split sales of the white and rosé between the UK on- and off-trades. “Certainly multiple retail is the main market we’re targeting, but also national hotel and restaurant groups,” she remarked.

Scott Malaugh, operations director for The Cunning Plan, outlined the group’s aim to create a more wine-focused pub experience than tends to happen with the more typical brewery-owned model. “We’d like to be the catalyst that kickstarts wine in pubs,” he told db. Everyone raves about English beer, but why not wine?”

Just 18 months after it was set up, The Cunning Plan’s portfolio features London pubs The Fox & Anchor in Clerkenwell, The Bull & The Hide near Liverpool St Station, St Bart’s Brewery in Smithfield and the Goudhurst Inn near its winery in Kent.

Malaugh confirmed that further expansion was very much on the cards, saying: “We always thought we’d love to do 10 to 14, but there’s no limit really; as long as the right properties come along we’ll expand.”

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