Back in August, Hambledon Vineyard held their second annual Wine Festival. I attended last year, and I had a brilliant afternoon – so I was excited to be able to go along again this year!
Our tickets to the festival included a glass to take home, three tasting tokens and access to all of the masterclasses that were running on the day.
Our tickets also gave us access to the Hambledon Vineyard Bus, decked out with a bar downstairs and cosy seating upstairs.
The first masterclass that we went along to was the Cheese & Wine Pairing class. We sampled a selection of very tasty local Hampshire cheeses, all washed down with the Hambledon Classic Cuvée, Cuvée Rose and Premiere Cuvée.
The first cheese was the Lyburn Gold, made in the New Forest. This was similar to a edam or gouda, and paired well with the Classic Cuvée. The second cheese was a dipping cheese called Winslade, from Hampshire Cheeses. This was very similar to camembert, and when left out of the fridge for half an hour it goes beautifully gooey – perfect for dipping! The third cheese was called Tunworth, again from Hampshire Cheeses. Paired with the Premiere Cuvée as it is a slightly stronger cheese, this was a lovely cheese and my favourite of the three – similar to a strong brie.
Just look at that cheese-y, gooey deliciousness.
Our next masterclass was the Chocolate & Wine Pairing class, with chocolates from the Winchester Cocoa Company. The owner, Chris, was at the festival to tell us all about the different chocolates and how they are made.
From the back of the board to the front, we had…
Blackberry Liqueur with Dark Chocolate, Earl Grey Tea and Lemon with Milk Chocolate (very nice), Rhubarb and Ginger, Crunchy Praline, Chai Tea (my personal favourite) and Salted Caramel with Milk Chocolate.
The chocolates were all absolutely wonderful, and we found that the fruitier and sweeter chocolates paired well with the Classic Cuvée, while the stronger flavours paired well with the Rosé.
After eating quite a lot of chocolate and cheese (and drinking a lot of wine) we ventured back out to the festival, where there was the opportunity to purchase some cheese and chocolate to take home with you.
We did end up leaving with both cheese and chocolate in hand – it was hard to resist! There were also some food vendors onsite – I opted for a classic crepe with lemon and sugar.
The clouds rolled in as the afternoon passed, so we retreated inside the Hambledon Bus for a glass of wine and some shelter.
Our last session of the day was a vineyard tour with the wine maker. As regular visitors to the vineyard (it’s a lovely place!) we had had tours of the winery before, but never with the wine maker himself.
We learnt all about the pressing process, when the grapes should be harvested, and about which grapes are used for which wines. (Find out more here if you’re curious!)
We even had a behind the scenes taste test of the wine in the different stages of the process – before it has bubbles. It was actually very drinkable indeed!
If you’re visiting Hampshire, or you’re a local like me, I’d highly recommend paying a visit to Hambledon Vineyard. They run regular events and tours, the team are incredibly friendly and the vineyard is beautiful. See the website here for more information.
*I was invited along to the Hambledon Vineyard Wine Festival, but all opinions are my own.