We’re pleased to announce that Meonhill Wines are the next producer to hit the site following our last tasting panel.
Perched on top of the South Downs between Winchester and Petersfield, Meonhill Wines vineyard is ideally located to take advantage of not just some of the most amazing views the south coast has to offer, but the fantastic chalky soil that is geologically an extension of the same chalk in Champagne. Not only does the soil match, but the winemaker, Didier Pierson, has a Champagne-house himself too…
Vineyard practices employed by Didier include the training of vines very close to the ground, using Chablis (for the Chardonany) and Cordon de Royat (for the Pinot noir) training systems. These offer the vines quick access to soil nutrients and ground heat. The fairly steep slope on which the vineyard sits protects the vines from what gets most vineyard managers in England quaking in their muddy boots, late frosts. The cold air simply falls down the slope into a very deep basin well beyond the extent of the vines. Pests like rabbits, deer and badgers are protected against by a strong and (almost) impenetrable fencing around the perimeter.
Creating a superb NV wine based on a 50:50 split of Chardonnay and Pinot noir, Didier uses many of the same techniques he applies to making similar wines in France, including hand-riddling and disgorging.
The end product is an opulent golden coloured wine with a good bead and delicate mousse. The nose offers up aromas of red fruit and peach, and delicious tones of yeast, nuttiness, honey and caramel. In the mouth the wine is dry, weighty and has a balanced acidity. It has biscuity flavours, following the obvious autolytic nose, and has an assured length with an almost chalky finish.
With the arrival of a serious English sparkling wine made by a Champagne producer, it just proves what we’ve known for a while: England makes excellent wine. And at a competitive price. The Meonhill Réserve NV retails at £24.75, and is worth every penny.