At Atlas, we aren’t in the habit of offering the same wines twice, but I think a number of clients may have missed our offer on the sparkling wines of Oxfordshire-based Hundred Hills late last year, in which we offered the extraordinary, limited production 2018 Rosé de Saignée. This new release from the estate, which I can safely say is easily the finest English sparkling wine we have collectively tasted, is too good to overlook. So here I re-offer it on its own, as I believe it deserves highlighting individually.
It seems we are not alone in our beliefs; the famed two Michelin-starred restaurant-hotel, Le Manoir Aux Quat’Saisons, also based in Oxfordshire and run by renowned French chef Raymond Blanc, seems to have taken Hundred Hills under its wing (they have the 2017 Preamble No. 2, the 2016 Preamble No. 1 and the Rosé de Saignée on their wine list, such is their esteem of the wines). In fact, head sommelier at Le Manoir, Lukas Hyner, is quoted as stating that Hundred Hills’ Rosé de Saignée is the best English sparkling wine he has ever tasted.
‘The 2018 vintage will be a reference point vintage for English wine’; so said Hundred Hills owner, Stephen Duckett, three years ago. It was the warmest summer on record, largely dry with a little much-needed rain in late August, leading to a fine, unproblematic autumn. It provided near perfect growing and harvest conditions, and meaning the fruit was able to achieve full ripeness – not by any means a given in English vineyards.
The 2018 Rosé de Saignée was remarkable to taste; as Simon mentioned in his offer last year, the aromas are somewhat reminiscent of a young Côte de Beaune, with notes of sappy red berry and a hint of toast. There is a real depth of fruit on the palate; raspberry, pomegranate and hints of orange peel, and a subtle, but distinctive fresh mint note adding complexity. This is a remarkable and captivating wine that lends itself so well to food pairing, though on its own it really is a joy to drink. I have included Simon’s full tasting note below.