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For those of you already familiar with the Bocuse d’Or you’ll be excited to hear that Hundred Hills have been invited to join the coming two-years of intense build up as Team UK takes on the world! For the many of you who I’m sure are not already familiar, the Bocuse d’Or is the world’s most extraordinary cooking competition, the so called “Chefs’ Olympics”, where the very best chefs in the world compete side by side in a two-day festival of high energy, haute cuisine cooking in Lyon.
This time around, the UK’s team for the biennial tournament will feature Clare Smyth of CORE as president leading a very strong and experienced team headed by Tom Phillips of Restaurant Story. Clare is the first and only female British chef to earn three Michelin stars and only the fourth British chef in history to receive the honour. Taking a UK team to glory in the Bocuse d’Or feels like one of the very few ways her achievements to date could be surpassed!
To kick off the campaign all eight of Britain’s three-star Michelin chef’s are coming together for the first time to deliver a truly unique evening, where each of them will create a single dish to be enjoyed by two hundred guests, at the beautiful new Raffles Hotel at the Old War Office on Whitehall. And Hundred Hills will be there to support them, with different wines carefully paired with some of the fabulous dishes on offer.
It will undoubtedly be quite a night with funds raised to both support Team UK compete in heats in Norway and hopefully on to the final in Lyon, and also to support the Cancer Platform charity.
Plenty of sunshine and plenty of showers, it’s been busy. Fears of frost proved groundless and the hottest June yet was perfect for a quick and robust flowering which peaked around the 25th. Vine flowers self-pollinate, eventually evolving into grape bunches and the conditions at ‘fruit-set’ influence not only the quality of the present vintage but also set the scene for 2024. This vintage was a textbook ‘fruit-set’. The team immediately began thinning out the canopy around the fruiting zone to naturally restrain mildews…
The 2023 harvest now all over for another year and pinot noirs ‘bled’ once again for our rosé de saignée. The intensity from small berries this year is stunning, and with the acid structure exactly where we’d like it, these musts have terrific potential. Fermentation in barrels now underway and we don’t expect to need to filter or fine these wines before they go into bottle for secondary fermentations next spring. So really all we need to do now is patiently wait for a few more years…..
A wonderful afternoon celebrating the launch of the fifth edition of The Oxford Companion to Wine at 67 Pall Mall. Compiled by Jancis Robinson MW and Julia Harding MW edited by Tara Thomas, with a total of more than 4,100 substantive entries, including 272 new ones it’s the first edition to breach 1 million words, a really remarkable achievement! We were delighted to join the assembled company and see everyone enjoying our newly released 2019 Blanc de Blancs. A lovely quiet moment to savour as the busy grape harvest period approaches.
We were thrilled to share our wines last week in an intimate dinner at the institution that is Pied à Terre Restaurant. The enigmatic David Moore was one of the first to serve our gastronomic Preamble on their wine pairing back in 2021, Asimakis Chaniotis and the team subsequently joined us to pick grapes for the 2021 harvest.
Highlights among many of the evening were our rich, umami toned 2019 Hillside No.3 served alongside English crayfish, white asparagus and a caviar beurre blanc, our fresh 2018 Signature Rosé highlighted by a delicate Gariguette strawberry Mille Feuille with basil and strawberry sorbet and a rare final glimpse of our 2018 Rosé de Saignée perfectly pitched against an Assiette of French rabbit and heritage carrots.
Our highly rated 2019 Blanc de Noirs is now available at Pied à Terre by the glass, courtesy of newly gilded and charming Head Sommelier Ciaran Bagchus.
Thank you to Theo Harrison from Uncorked for organising such a memorable evening.
We are delighted that Hundred Hills has been selected to feature in the new cocktail which has just launched at Hakkasan. The Golden Nectar is a beautifully presented cocktail that has been inspired by the old classics, where both craft and individual ingredients are key players. It has been created by an all-female team to celebrate International Women’s Day. Sommelier Alessia Mandolini chose Hundred Hills ‘to balance the syrupy notes of the cordial with a crisp, mineral finish’. The team really have created the ultimate luxury cocktail!
The Donn, Single Malt Irish Whiskey, Clementines, Raw Honey, Hundred Hills, Grand Marnier and Mimosa
Hundred Hills is a relative newcomer to the English sparkling wine revolution and yet its six wines are already making serious waves. The winery itself, nestled as it is in the Chilterns, has been rated by Jancis Robinson MW as one of the top English wineries, with its Blanc de Noirs 2019 rated as best English fizz and the new vintage of its Blanc de Blancs, as best English BdB. Geoffrey Dean went to see what all the fuss is about and to discover from owner/ winemaker Stephen Duckett, what he’s done differently to stand out from the crowd.
The Buyer – December, 2022
Very exciting to see the ‘Your Point of View’ cocktail launch at The Connaught, created by Agostino Perrone this eye catching cocktail encaptures how perspectives change in the same way as images, colours and flavours, it just depends on your point of view. This unique flavour combination really does create an unforgettable cocktail, showcasing the exemplary skills of the mixologists at The Connaught Bar, which has been listed as one of the World’s Best Bars.
Roku Gin, NY Raspberry Cream, Hundred Hills Base Wine, Acqua di Cedro Nardini and Maley Cider
Always a pleasure to welcome the sommelier team and members from 67 Pall Mall out to Hundred Hills. At this time of year it’s pruning lessons, winemaking techniques and tasting new and as yet unreleased wines, but whatever we turned to there was always terrific energy in the room! As we start sending out our own wines around the world it’s great to be showcasing some of our limited edition vintage wines with 67 as it ‘goes global’.
A sensory experience like no other – we are delighted to see that the team at The Fat Duck have chosen to pair our 2018 Preamble with their creative new cereal inspired dish, with flavours of truffled egg mousse, toasted bread cream and jellied tomato consommé this really is set to be an exceptional and very distinctive pairing. The perfect ‘full English’ flavour experience!
It was great to welcome Greg and the Coravin team out to Hundred Hills to share a glass of our beautiful Rosé de Saignée. We love using the Coravin system to keep our limited edition wines and magnums perfectly fresh for all our guests visiting Hundred Hills. Congratulations to the Coravin team, a really robust and effective solution!
Where better to celebrate the Declaration of the Rights of Man than at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons fabulous Bastille Day party and who better to celebrate with than Raymond Blanc, surely one the few people to be able to proudly sport both an OBE and Légion d’honneur for the occasion!
We were delighted to sponsor the Rennie Grove charity concert held at the Cadogan Hall in the heart of Chelsea. The concert provided guests with a unique opportunity to hear a trio of internationally-renowned young musicians. Sheku Kanneh-Mason who performed at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s wedding, Braimah Kanneh-Mason and Plinio Fernandes performed a wonderful selection of movements across a range of styles from folk to classical, showcasing captivating combinations of cello, violin and guitar. All proceeds from this very memorable event went to Rennie Grove who support families affected by life-limiting illness.
The 2021 vintage has the potential to be an exceptional one for Hundred Hills. Despite some cold spring nights, we started a late season with all the buds intact and warm weather quickly allowed the vines to catch up. Then a cool summer turned into a warm autumn and small, intense grapes ripened beautifully across all our ten parcels of chardonnay and pinot noir. The aromas and flavours are intense in the grape musts, with an excellent balance of sugars and acids promising some fine, long aging wines ahead for the 2021 vintage.
The cold Spring delayed bud burst by a month, but the burst of warm weather in May left flowering only a week later than normal, in early July. Summer rains created strong growing conditions and veraison at the start of September saw an extraordinarily warm few weeks as the grapes started to ripen.
Temperatures touched 30 ̊C for the first few days of ripening and settled down to 20 ̊C or so for the rest of September. That brought ripening on beautifully and this weather broadly continued into a dry harvest in late October.
Here in the Stonor Valley, the vineyards have excellent airflow, the chalk drains water away beautifully and the vines are well protected by ancient woodland. As in previous years, the crop is perfectly clean and completely free of mildews and botrytis, helped by a huge de-leafing effort to keep air flowing through the vine canopy from fruit set onwards.
We always try to hold our grapes on the vine for as long as possible as all the complexities are generated in the flavour and aromas in the final days of ripening. This year the cool summer meant several passages through each vine parcel, hand picking only perfectly ripe bunches day by day.
The 2021 flavours are intense and complex in the musts, with excellent sugar levels and acidity in the grapes. This should provide the opportunity to make really long ageing and special wines but for now the base wine fermentations are underway and we will have to wait until spring for a first round of blind base wine tastings to know more.
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.
Atlas Fine Wines – January, 2022
In just two weeks, an Oxfordshire-made sparkling wine has become the number one best seller listed at Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons. The wine is made by ‘Hundred Hills’ which kept its 42-acre vineyard in Oxfordshire quiet for almost 10 years until the first wine was aged perfectly. The two-starred Michelin chef said it “amongst the very finest” that he has ever tasted.
The Oxford Mail – December, 2021
We were delighted to support Impetus in their outstanding work with young people from disadvantaged backgrounds. The Natural History Museum reception was the perfect setting for guests to enjoy our Preamble No.2 wine and our Blanc de Blancs magnums proved to be an exciting auction lot!
We are honoured to see our base wine featuring in the Eclipse, an impressive cocktail created by the team led by Agostino Perrone, Director of Mixology of Mayfair’s Connaught Bar – the World’s Best Bar (50 Best). The Eclipse takes inspiration from the high contrast photography of English street photographer, Alan Schaller, which in turn inspired English glassware designer, Richard Brendon to realise a futuristic glass for it featuring a shiny black core and bright white outside.
Wine List Confidential – September, 2021
Searching England for the perfect vineyard to produce world class sparkling wines, Stephen and Fiona Duckett found the Stonor Valley’s chalk soil a perfect match to Champagne’s Côtes des Blancs. If you have ever sipped Champagne in the Côtes des Blancs, or toured the glittering Champagne houses of Epernay, then you’ll know that chalk goes an awfully long way down.
Henley Life – December, 2021
It was wonderful to have Asimakis, Suze, Chanel and Nia join us for what was a very memorable harvest at Hundred Hills.
Asimakis Chaniotis – October, 2021
We are delighted to be partnering with Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons to welcome their guests out to Hundred Hills for exclusive wine tasting experiences and are very much looking forward to a lively season ahead. Our 2016 First Edition wine, now regularly enjoyed by guests of Le Manoir, is brimming with honeyed fruits, nectarines and apricots and a creamy intensity on the palate complemented by delicate exotic touches. It is lovely to see guests of Le Manoir celebrating and creating lasting memories with one of our finest wines to date!
Wine List Confidential – September, 2021
Bounded by ancient woodlands carpeted, during the time of my visit, in bluebells, no pylons mar perfectionist and founder, Stephen Duckett’s Hundred Hills wine estate because he had all twelve structures dismantled in favour of threading the cables deep underground. Nor will you encounter a deer heedlessly gorging on slowly ripened Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes because the herd Duckett discovered on first seeing what was then Bank Farm resulted in the construction of, unseen from the estate, two miles of fencing encapsulating the amphitheatre of 85,000 vines sown in this dry chalk valley, six miles north of Henley.
The Drinks Business – May, 2021
The 2018 vintage will undoubtedly become a reference vintage for Hundred Hills and for English Sparklings more generally. The stars aligned to deliver a perfect budburst and midsummers day flowering. Then the warmest summer on record turned into a warm, dry autumn and beautiful, perfectly ripe grapes were hand picked across all our ten parcels of chardonnay and pinot noir in early October. Each parcel yielded its own distinct aromas and flavours, with an excellent balance of sugars and low acids offering ideal ingredients for non-malolactic winemaking.
2018 was certainly a remarkable year for English vineyards and even by May 1st unseasonably warm temperatures had yielded a verdant green across the vineyards as shoots and leaves grew rapidly. June saw tempartures touch 30 ̊C allowing an almost complete fruit set and the bunch structure to expand, making room for plenty of fully ripened grapes later in the season.
As the Met Office reported the warmest summer in England since detailed records began in 1910, the rain at the end of August was welcome and the berries began to swell beautifully as veraison really took hold. Unusually we left plenty of leaf around the fruit zone on the vines and relied on continued dry weather to keep our grapes perfectly clean and completely free of mildews and botrytis.
Sampling each parcel every day we sought to hold our grapes on the wines as long as possible before sugar levels reached the point where we were forced to harvest. Two very busy weeks of harvesting allowed grapes to stay between 102 and 110 days on the vines and enabled beautiful flavours and aromas to fully evolve in late autumnal sunshine. At times it felt as if English history was standing still and we were in the middle of one of Constable’s iconic countryside paintings!
With malic acids declining rapidly in the last days of ripening, the grape musts were sweet and intense. Slow, cool alcoholic fermentations, once again without a malolactic, has created base wines with real finesse. There is already much excitement here at Hundred Hills around the sparkling wines 2018 will ultimately deliver.