Domaine Hugo, Hugo
We're very lucky to have got our hands on this biodynamic traditional method sparkling from Hugo Stewart & Daniel Ham’s new project: Domaine Hugo. Driving and complex with lovely acidity, leading into a little stone fruit and a buttery leesiness.
Grapes: Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Pinot Gris
Place: Wiltshire, England
Hugo Stewart's farming story doesn't begin with fruit, but with pigs. The family farm; Botley's, had belonged to his grandmother and uncle, before the responsibility fell to him. So pigs it was, until twenty years ago. Needing a change of scenery he rented the farm out to a neighbour so he could spend a year in France.
Starting out on his viticulture journey and visiting other growers, Hugo had a handful of eye-opening experiences of conventional farming, deciding early on that it was not the way he wanted to work. Beginning with organics and quickly proceeding to biodynamics at the recommendation of a neighbour, Hugo's viticulture even caught the attention of biodynamic pioneer Nicolas Joly, who became an advocate for Hugo & Paul's wines.
Needing to return back to Wiltshire for his family in 2015, Hugo was confident that the windswept chalk soils of the family farm could make great vineyards. Deciding to plant a handful of traditional Champagne varietals (despite Nicolas Joly teasing him he should plant something different) Hugo set about working his own three hectares in accordance with biodynamic principles.
In 2018 he took the fruit of his first home-grown vintage to the nearby Langham estate to be vinified by the young head winemaker there: Daniel Ham. So excited by the quality of fruit and the story of Hugo's viticulture, Daniel had soon talked himself into a new job: "have you ever considered building a winery?"
From that chance encounter, the second winemaking collaboration of Hugo's life was born. Building the winery together at Botley's, Dan heads up the winemaking, with Hugo concentrating on the biodynamic viticulture.