Following my recent visit to Hambledon winery in Hampshire I set off for another enjoyable day at another English winery this time in sunny Staplehurst, Kent (Garden of England) and the serene and immaculately manicured Hush Heath Estate famous for its Balfour sparkling wines especially the award-winning Balfour Brut Rosé.
Set in 400 acres of vineyards, orchards and woodland this really was a lovely way to spend a few hours strolling around the grounds, visiting the winery and best of all actually tasting the wines.
The tour of the orchard and vineyards lasted about an hour and a half before finishing with a look around their state of the art winemaking facilities, unfortunately, I couldn’t take any photographs.
During the stroll, our guide showed us the orchard where they grow a variety of apples which make their various ciders and apple juice followed by their equally impressive vineyard where they grow the typical Champagne grapes which are Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier for their sparklers. The tour was informative as well as being very enjoyable and the weather was perfect if a little hot but what impressed me most was how beautifully kept the Estate was, it really was immaculate.
After the tour we assembled in their tasting tent for a sample of two Sparkling wines, one still red and last but not least the cider.
Balfour Brut Rosé
First up was their flagship award-winning Rosé………. This was given a big thumbs up by all who tasted it. Lovely pale salmon colour with a lively stream of fine bubbles. Aromas of strawberries, plums and vanilla with a Crisp, refreshing and long finish.
Balfour Leslie’s Reserve
Next was my favourite, named after the producer’s wife from selected Cuvées. As I have said before who needs Champagne when English sparkling wine tastes as good as this. With a minimum of at least 12 months Lees ageing this was fresh light and had a fruity sweetness about it. Again universally enjoyed by everyone.
Hush Heath Pinot Noir
Only tasted one of the still wines which was a Pinot Noir, very fruit-forward and light full of cherries and raspberries with a slight herbal kick. Not enough depth for me but it has won awards and I would quite happily drink it, maybe it needed to be chilled slightly to taste it at its best.
There was also some of the Jake’s Orchard sparkling ciders to try namely Nettle and Strawberry & blackcurrant, if you’re a fan of cider these were very good.
The Sparkling wines were definitely the stars and they were very proud of them and rightly so even if they were a little on the expensive side.
Goudhurst Boutique Inn
My wife and stayed at ‘The Goudhurst Inn’ a few miles away, this boutique pub owned by Hush Heath was the perfect retreat after a hard days wine touring. The pub featured most of the wines we tasted and we enjoyed another couple of glasses of the excellent Balfour Leslie’s Reserve with a very nice dinner.