It takes patience to produce sparkling wine using the Traditional Method, after all no wine is available to sell for many months – or more typically years – after the harvest, as the second fermentation takes place, then the wine is aged on its lees. But the process has been longer still for Stephen and Fiona Duckett, the founders of Hundred Hills.
They scoured the English countryside for chalk valleys where Pinot and Chardonnay grapes might thrive, submitting over a hundred soil samples to the CIVC (Comité Interprofessionnel du vin de Champagne) for analysis. The CIVC’s response to one particular sample from Oxfordshire’s Stonor Valley – ‘Precisely where in the Côte de Blancs is this from?’ – reinforced their conviction that they had found the perfect place to bring their dream to fruition.
That dream was to make sparkling wines that could go toe-to-toe with the finest Champagne without seeking to imitate it. The wines of Hundred Hills would be expressive of their terroir; specifically a steep-sided, well-ventilated amphitheatre, with some 160 metres of chalk beneath its surface. As Stephen acknowledges, there’s a temptation (even among growers) to think that chalk alone means a site is suitable for growing the Champagne varietals, but he explains that there’s chalk and there’s chalk, and here at Hundred Hills it is of the optimum density to drain freely yet retain enough water in times of drought.
We can barely contain our enthusiasm for Hundred Hills, an estate which has, frankly, changed our perception of the heights English sparkling wine can reach. We are delighted today to offer two of the estates’ wines, both from 2017 (the estate’s second vintage): the luxuriant Preamble No 2 and laser-focused Blanc de Blancs. The wines are duty paid, and available for immediate delivery from our warehouse.
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