(2018) UK retailer Majestic has been launching small batches of 'one-off' wines under its Parcel Series label for decades. This single vineyard sparkling from Hampshire was made by Hambledon, a well-respected English sparkling wine producer, but apparently Majestic were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement about the wine's specific details before they were allowed to purchase all 7,000 bottles. There are obvious signs of maturity and considerable lees ageing, from the burnished gold colour, to the gently oxidative nose with its deep, baked apple pie and bruised pear aromas. I'd be very surprised indeed if this was not made from Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. In the mouth there's a lovely sweetness of fruit, suggesting a good, ripe base year for this, and enough dosage to add a flattering softness against the very good lemon meringue pie combination of acidity and fruitiness. It is a mature style - but that's a style I personally love - and I would be very happy indeed to pick up a bottle or two at its £22.48 'mixed six' price. Watch the video for more details and food matching ideas.
(2017) A wine I have followed for some time, this is a blend of 40% mature Chardonnay from the oldest vineyards with 60% Pinot Noir, all planted on the chalk soils of the South Downs. The mousse is creamy and fine and there is still that touch of pastry and biscuit to the sheer lemony fruit character on the nose, opening onto a palate that has added an extra degree of intensity since my last tasting it seems. The sumptuous character of the fruit and a modest 7g/l of dosage just blurs the steely edges rather nicely. Long and with a lick of salty minerality in the finish, it really is very fine indeed. Distribution for this wine is now very good - use the wine-searcher link - and half bottles at around £17.50 and magnums at around £60 are also available.
(2016) The Hampshire vineyards of Exton Park are beautiful and are producing some exceptional sparkling wines, as I reported in 2015. Now it's a delight to see they have released their wines in half bottles, always such a handy size to have around. This is the Brut, a blend of 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay, that in half bottle has wonderfully easy and sweet fruit, a touch of brioche and toast, and a glittering finish.
(2016) An unusual rosé sparkling wine, made from 100% Hampshire-grown Pinot Meunier, which winemaker Corinne Seely concluded was good enough and mature enough for this bottling as the vineyard passed its first decade since being planted. Though it comes from a single year (2014) it is being sold without a vintage date. It's a subtle and very refined style this - not the place to come if you are seeking a strawberry-scented, softened style of pink fizz, for this is bone-dry and taut, small redcurrant and apple fruit notes, bags of acidity and a clean, linear palate showing a crisp, racy mousse. Not showy, but very good.
(2015) The base is from the 2013 vintage with reserve 2011 and 2012. It is 60% Pinot Noir and 40% Chardonnay. Lovely palate lemony-straw colour, with a fine, steady stream of tiny bubbles. Delightful nose, the hint of baked brioche, the very cool apple fruit, the touch of floral character, very cool and charming. Only 7g/l residual sugar, with a palate that has real intensity, with an almost sherbet-lemon brightness, lovely hints of fruit sweetness, and then a long, agile character with some richness and toast from lees-aged reserve wines adding texture and depth to offset that ultra-fresh acidity. Gorgeous wine, perfect balance. £24.95, Exton Park Wines
(2015) Lovely gentle peachy-pink colour and streaming bubbles. Made from the two Pinots, with colour coming from a few hours in the nitrogen-sparged press. A little earthiness and damp forest floor leafiness. The palate has small red berries and a lovely gentle strawberry, then more keen, sweet but tart raspberry fruit, with juicy acidity and a real mineral, almost ozone/seaside freshness. The refined fruit sweetness is lovely against pure acidity into the finish. £28.95, Exton Park Wines
(2015) Mostly Pinot Meunier, and probably will not be released. Delightful touch of copper to the colour and a pleasing leafiness and toast. Some creaminess to the flavour too, you could almost imagine it had been in oak for some time, a delightful sweet berry fruit and a sense of delicacy and lacy refinement. Lovely freshness. £41.95, Exton Park Wines
(2015) Not on the market yet, but will be launched hopefully later this year. The Chardonnay was very special in this year, and Corinne thinks the next vintage will not be until the 2014. 100% Chardonnay, this has a lovely golden hue, with some toffee and nutty notes, with lovely bruised fruit and leafy notes, real complexity and richness. The palate pushes through with immense precision, the cool and zesty and pith lemon rind and that seashell mineral richness again, gives this lovely balanced and focused length. That minerality is so pronounced from these chalky soils. £39.95, Exton Park Wines
(2014) Punchy, pungent, very crisp and racy stuff with plenty of crunch and crispness, and a lovely fresh and vital appeal. It has great lengh, a touch of sour apple and orange fruitiness, and lovely poise and complexity. Sour lemon and grapefrtuit is the final acid punch, but deliciously so.
(2012) The overall Winner and the Best Sparkling Wine of the Show, this has a beautifully poised, Chardonnay nose, a touch of biscuit, but taut, apple and citrus tang (English apples) with delicious bite, a real juicy, perfumed apple fruit on the palate and so much lemony tang and finesse.