Behind the scenes: crafting the latest vintages of our sparkling wines


We recently visited Hambledon Vineyard to witness the craft process behind our upcoming Own Selection sparkling wines. Discover how the latest vintages of our Own Selection English Sparkling Wine and Own Selection English Sparkling Rosé have been made.  

It’s a drab winter day at Hambledon Vineyard in Hampshire. The vines are stripped bare, skeletal against the thick winter sky. Felix Gabillet and Sam Picton, Head and Assistant Winemaker respectively, are sitting upstairs in the winery alongside two members of the Berry Bros. & Rudd Buying team, Mark Pardoe MW and Charlie Leech. Around the table, there is an array of bottles marked only by a number indicating the grams of sugar in the liquid. What I’m witnessing – and invited to participate in – is the careful crafting of two new cuvées for the Own Selection range: the English Sparkling Wine and the Sparkling Rosé, both of which are made for us by Hambledon.  

It is a collaborative process. From this fleet of bottles, the team will select two base wines to make up the final cuvées. The wine for the new English Sparkling comes from the 2019 vintage, while the Sparkling Rosé comes from the ’18 vintage. What the team are looking for today is the perfect balance between an expression of the character of the vintage and the personality of the fruit, while capturing a palatability that will chime with consumers.  

The liquid from each bottle is poured in small amounts around the table, and we taste our way up the sugar scale, from 0 dosage (grams of sugar) to 12 grams per bottle. As we sip through the wines for the English Sparkling selection, I’m struck by flavours of crisp green apple, lemon, subtle hints of biscuit and bread. These are taut, refreshing wines with a delicate mousse. They have a complexity to stand up to Champagne but with a sharp, lean edge that is distinctly English.  

The Sparkling Rosé wines, on the other hand, have that same freshness and brightness, but with a gentle red fruit character from the Pinot Noir grapes, and a slightly savoury note that comes from a little age. The ripeness of the vintage shines through, with a lovely note like plum crumble emerging. 

There are moments of quiet deliberation, letting the flavour and weight of each wine settle and allowing impressions to take shape. Then there is a lot of discussion, as 12 wines are whittled down to three. Wines are blended together, until the perfect balance is achieved. Striking this equilibrium between sugar, fruit character and acidity is perhaps the most fascinating – and challenging – part of the process. As little as half a gram of sugar can transform or enhance the whole profile of the wine. It truly is a craft, in which flavour and quality are at the heart, while always prioritising what the customer will enjoy.  

The latest vintages of our Own Selection sparkling wines are due to arrive in the next couple of months. In the meantime, explore the current range of our own-label sparkling here