As a keen wine enthusiast Ian Kellett fancied having a dabble at running a vineyard, as one does. “Not one to do things by halves I decided to take on the French Champagne region” Ian recounts, “and so in 1999 I became the proud owner of the Hambledon Estate.”
When asked what’s it like owning a vineyard: “Well, we spend an awful lot of time talking about the weather. We Brits enjoy talking about the weather, but when you run a vineyard you really talk about the weather! From April to October we pretty much ponder the weather on an hourly basis.”
What is behind English sparkling wine’s rise to distinction?
According to Ian, “It all comes down to geology and climate. Hambledon has the same high-grade chalk soil as the Champagne region, perfect for growing Chardonnay grapes, and a marginally cooler climate which gives fabulous acidity to make sparkling wine with.
“It’s been mooted that our terroir (geological and climatic conditions) is on par – better even – for making sparkling wine than that of the Champagne region.
“Then there’s lots of skill involved, of course, in blending the wine in a way that the acidity is refreshing. That’s where our head winemaker Hervé Jestin comes into his own. We’re making the quality to beat Champagne, not just match it, and consumers are increasingly drinking less Champagne and more English sparkling wine.”