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Harrow and Hope Brut Reserve, N.V. Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England
Pale lemon with a fine mousse, the nose shows candied citrus, brioche and some white floral notes. Well rounded with fine acidity and a touch of spiciness. This is the perfect foodies aperitif.
Grape Variety: Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Chardonnay
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N.V. Harrow and Hope Brut Reserve, Marlow, Buckinghamshire, England
This lively English sparkler begins with a vibrant nose of green apple with slightly herbaceous or almost floral qualities. Underneath is a lovely autolytic complexity with yeasty notes of freshly baked bread and brioche. On the palate this wine remains very expressive, there’s a lively and refreshing citrus character supporting those crisp green apple flavours. Overall a very clean and precise Brut; the bubbles are really very persistent and the finish is gently seasoned with a lingering dry minerality. Very elegant!
Stunning with tempura fish.
Over half a million years, our part of the Chiltern Hills has been shaped by the retreating Thames, leaving behind an environment ideal for creating world-class sparkling wine. Alas, the same flint rocks that make our single vineyard estate a dream for Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier, also make it a nightmare to work and cultivate; as two broken harrows testify. But then nothing worth treasuring ever came easy. Grown, picked and expertly blended by the same team on the same site, each glass of Harrow and Hope is a tribute to traditional method viticulture and winemaking, to the unique characteristics of Marlow and to the spirit of adventure. This latest release of our signature blend has been created from all three classic grape varieties, led by the pure fruit and texture of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and well supported by the finesse of Chardonnay. Our 4th Edition bottling is based on the truly great year of 2015, supported with 30% 2014 reserves, aged in old oak barriques. 2015 was a truly great year for Pinot Noir and this very much shines through in the blend. The reserves really help to soften this wine and add extra complexity which makes it quite compelling on release. A bright future ahead.
Harrow and Hope is owned and managed by Henry and Kaye Laithwaite, this vineyard is a single chalk slope site perched on the edge of an ancient gravel terrace in the middle of the Thames Valley. The Laithwaite family are a household name in wine industry, with Tony Laithwaite founding the booming Laithwaite’s retail and delivery service almost fifty years ago. They are also no strangers to English wine, as Tony’s wife Barbera founded Wyflold Vineyard in Chiltern in 2003. The Whyfold Brut has since gone on to win a series of awards and accreditations in international wine challenges. And that brings us to the next generation in the family: to Henry Laithwaite, founder and owner of Harrow and Hope in Marlow – the location of my latest English wine adventure.
Henry and his wife Kaye initially moved to France in 2008 to grow and make red wine in Bordeaux. Whilst many would call that ‘living the dream’, the couple decided to return to England as they wanted to start a family. And with the advances in English Sparkling wine and mother Barbera’s own success – the only remaining challenge was to find the right location for a vineyard. Standing in the vineyard in Marlow it’s clear that they have happened across an absolutely perfect location. Not only is the landscape stunning, it is naturally sheltered from the elements and the vines are sitting on chalk rich soils with red clay and flint. In the distance across the hills, dark and brooding stormy clouds are forming – a downpour is on the way but there is just enough time to take in the last few minutes of sun and the stunning views.
The first vines were planted in 2010, with 3.6 hectares in total comprising of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier. A further 2.6 hectares were planted in 2012 and the vineyard now has a split of 40% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir and 20% Pinot Meunier. Henry’s approach to viticulture is against the use of herbicides, and he insists on the use of organic nutrition. As all the grapes that go into the wines are Estate grown, the clarity of expression of their unique English terroir is key, so the preservation of the natural qualities of the soil remain a top priority.
The first commercial harvest was in 2013, a harvest that will see them officially release their first wines on the very day that I’m posting this article (21st May 2016). It’s quite a coincidence that on the day of my visit to the vineyard, it was announced that the Harrow and Hope Brut Rosé was awarded a Gold Medal in the Sommelier Wine Awards, with the Brut Reserve also picking up a Silver Medal. The At the highest point of the vineyard, next to the winery is a lovely traditional wooden supported canopy. With the vineyard about to open to the public for this first time, Harrow and Hope will use this area to host outdoor events. Picture this; a late summer barbecue with a glass of delicious sparkling Rosé in one hand as you watch the sun setting over the vineyard…
With those dark looming storm clouds looking more and more dangerous, we make are way back to the winery. Here rows of stainless steel tanks of varying sizes and formats are lined up. The focus on smaller, segregated tanks allows Henry to ferment separately by variety and clone – this gives more control in the final blending process and allows full exploitation of the subtle differences between each block. All of the sparkling wines will go through full malolactic fermentation, and a proportion of each wine will be aged in oak barrels depending on the intended expression, from 30% oak in the Rosé to 60% oak used in the Blanc de Blancs. The building of reserve wines was a key goal from the start, with reserves from each harvest now being stored in the winery in solera barrels. It’s going to be fascinating to see how future blends develop as those reserve wines age!
Going back to the grapes, it was a stylistic choice of Henry to focus on Pinot dominant style. This is evident in the Pinot dominant blends, the Rosé being made from single varietal Pinot Noir only and a forthcoming release of a Vintage Blanc de Noirs due in early 2017. This is a different approach from many other winemakers, who have focussed on Chardonnay led blends and Blanc de Blancs as their flagship products. However, a Blanc de Blancs is still on the horizon and will be released at the end of 2016.
NV Awards to Date : GOLD Sommelier Wine Awards, GOLD Wine GB Awards, SILVER International Wine & Spirits Competition, SILVER International Wine Challenge Grown, picked and expertly blended by the same team on the same site, each glass of Harrow & Hope is a tribute to traditional method viticulture and winemaking, to the unique characteristics of Marlow and to the spirit of adventure.
To find out everything you need to know about this English classic and for vineyard tours click here