One of the best wines made at Hundred Hills so far, this is from their ‘Hilltop’ parcel of vines, and is 100% Chardonnay. It’s the wine from their range that will age splendidly, up to a decade, no trouble at all. For now, there are aromas of fresh citrus, especially lemon, with an intense, almost mineral character. It’s firm-structured with biscuity complexity underneath from 3 years ageing on fermentation lees. A refreshing sparkling with huge potential for flavour development, if you can wait!
Founded by Stephen and Fiona Duckett in 2013, Hundred Hills is a very exciting producer who are based in Oxfordshire, in the Stonor Valley (between Oxford and Henley-on-Thames). They have 20 hectares of vines here (50 acres approximately) of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vines, which lie on the particularly sheltered, sloping chalk soils of the valley. This sheltered position, in particular, allows for the grapes to ripen slowly and gradually, late into the season (often inclement weather in the U.K.’s Autumn season means that exposed sites have to be harvested earlier, in a hurry, when the grapes may not have achieved full ripeness). The result is a selection of wines that have lots of delicious ripeness, a fairly fullbodied style, without sacrificing the trademark freshness of good English Sparkling. They are all ‘Vintage’ wines, ie the product of a sole vintage (rather than a blend of many) and aged in part in traditional oak casks which gives a lovely complexity to the style. Expect great things from this producer.