August Events

 Newbury racecourse photo

Joe Soap’s Masquerade! at Welford Park

30th July – 3rd August – 7:30pm
2nd August 2014 – 2.30pm
This year’s production entitled’ Joe Soap’s Masquerade’ is about how the First World War impacted rural communities like Boxford and includes five new musical theatre plays, 55 new songs and dances. It is part of this year’s commemoration of the Great War and brings fresh perspective on that historic event. Tickets from £9.

For further details see www.boxfordmasques.org.uk

Please contact The Watermill Theatre 01635 46044 to book


Battle Proms Picnic Concert at Highclere Castle

Saturday 2nd August – 4:30pm – 10pm
Prepare yourself for an amazing evening of classical music, firework, spitfires, cannons and the Calvary. The concert takes place at Highclere castle, which will be illuminated by lighting and forms the backdrop for the display. It’s recommended that you bring a picnic and enjoy the unforgettable evening with breathe taking displays over the beautiful castle for one of the most spectacular events in the musical calendar. Tickets between £17-£40

For further details see www.battleproms.com

Tickets can be purchased from the Newbury Visitor Information Centre, The Town Hall, Market Place, Newbury, RG14 5AA and by phone on 01635 30267.


The Tour De Berkshire 2014 at Bucklebury

Saturday 2nd August
A lovely family ride in West Berkshire with refreshment along the way at local pubs. The Tour de Berkshire is an annual family cycling event organised by volunteers. It takes place in the beautiful West Berkshire countryside with The circular route from The Cottage Inn, Upper Bucklebury, RG7 6QJ. Generous hosts, Gary and Mandy, are supporting the cycle by making it a family-friendly event, with games, bouncy castle and BBQ at the back of the pub.

The overall distance of around 20 miles and the aims is to not only raise money for the trust but to make it a family and friends event where everyone can get together. Last year raised the ride raised £10,888. Entry is £10 for adults and under 15 can ride free.

Online registration will close on the 26th July. Registration on the day will be £15.

For further details see www.cysticfibrosis.org.uk


Family Fun Day – Craft, Bake and Race Day at Newbury Racecourse

Sunday 3rd August – 11.30am to 6pm
Daisy’s Dream are hosting a family activity day with family picnics to raise money to support children and young people across Berkshire who are facing, or have experienced, bereavement. A fantastic day out for all the family to experience exhilarating flat racing along with a massive range of extra children’s entertainment on offer. There will be bouncy castles, craft workshops including glitter tattoos, sweet stalls and many more. Tickets from £14.40-£24. Under 18′s go free

Bring along your crafts and baked creations to win some fabulous prizes.

For further details see www.racecoursenewbury.co.uk


Stockfest 2014 at Stockcross

Saturday 9th – Sunday 24th August
Stockfest 2014 is a celebration of local talent, arts, music, culture and sport. The events taking place over two weeks are being supported and hosted by all the surrounding venues – St John’s Church, The Lord Lyon, Deanwood Park Golf Club, Stockcross Post Office, Stockcross House, Stockcross School, Rookwood Farm House, The Sutton Hall and Benham Estates.

Events include tennis coaching, cheese and wine tasting, a murder mystery evening, family treasure trail and a cup cake icing workshop.

For more information and see the full list of events and details of the venues and sponsors please go to: www.stockfest.co.uk

For further details see www.stockfest.co.uk


22nd Annual Classic Vehicle Show at Newbury

Sunday 10th Aug – 10am to 4.30pm
For all you car enthusiasts – visit the West Berkshire Classic Vehicle Club’s 22nd Annual Classic Vehicle Show at Newbury College, Monks Lane on Sun 10th Aug from 10am – 4.30pm. There will be over 1000 vehicles on display, ice-creams, refreshments, side stalls and auto jumble. All in aid of the Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research Fund. Adults £5 and Children go free.

For further details see www.classicvehicles.org.uk


Ladies Day with Annie Mac & Pete Tong at Newbury Racecourse

Saturday 16th Aug – 11am to 7pm
The highlight of the summer season featuring the superstar DJs Annie Mac and Pete Tong playing after racing. Full of glamour, fashion and fun off-the-track, Ladies Day is fabulous day to socialise and enjoy some of the best racing of the season. Queen of dance music Annie Mac and the iconic Pete Tong will take to the decks for a double-bill of dance beginning shortly after the last race of the day. Grandstand enclosure tickets – £30.

For further details, please see www.racecoursenewbury.co.uk

Chef’s Table – a totally unique and exclusive dining experience

DG on the pass with Slow cooked fillet of Scottish beef - 529KBThe Chef’s Table at The Vineyard is fantastic for larger groups as it allows everyone to see behind the scenes in the kitchen throughout lunch or dinner from preparation right through to dessert. So whether you’re looking for an exciting way to end a productive meeting, celebrating a birthday or another special occasion, the Chef’s Table is the perfect way to entertain and indulge in food and wine pairing at it’s best.

With fixed cameras fitted to the most interesting areas of the kitchen, guests will be able to watch the chefs in action on large television screens from the comfort of their own seat.

Vineyard-66A select number of guests will be lucky enough to get an insight into the workings of a hotel kitchen by joining our Executive Head Chef, Daniel Galmiche and his team throughout the dinner to put the finishing touches to each of the dishes before they are served. Kitchen tours for the whole group can also be arranged so that everyone has a chance to see behind the scenes.

Vineyard-69You’ll be treated to a Champagne reception on arrival followed by a seven course tasting menu cooked by Daniel and his team with matching wines for each course chosen by our sommelier team. With over 30,000 bottles in our cellar and 3,000 bins, we have wines to suit every food, mood and palate. Take a peek at our menu that past Chef’s Table parties have enjoyed:

Cream of asparagus velouté, white balsamic gel
Guinea fowl and parsley terrine, orange, chicory, almonds
Lyme Bay monkfish, green and white asparagus, fennel
South Coast turbot, girolles, rocket, chicken jus
Corn fed Tidenham duck breast, spring carrot, wild rice
White chocolate and passion fruit terrine, exotic purée, coconut
English rhubarb savarin, poached in thyme, hazelnut cream

Daniel_Galmiche - photoEach guest will receive a signed menu by Daniel Galmiche at the end of the evening to take home as a souvenir of the unique culinary experience. The price per person is £220 per person based on a minimum of 50 people.

Daniel comments on the Chef’s Table: “I really enjoy meeting the guests and inviting them into my kitchen to see all the amazing seasonal produce we use. Being a sustainable restaurant, we only use produce in season sourced as locally as possible. ”

If you are interested in discovering more about our Chef’s Table experience, please don’t hesitate to give our events team a call on 01635 589407 or email events1@the-vineyard.co.uk

For more details on other food and wine experience we can offer, please visit our website

Alan’s Summer Wine Suggestions

glassesinarow - 580 x 288When it comes to summer, we immediately think of kicking back on the terrace, with a chilled glass of rosé while we enjoy barbecues and light dishes. However, here are a selection of wines to relax and enjoy on those (hopefully) balmy summer evenings….

Sparkling

Champagne, Cava, Prosecco and many New world alternatives make great summer drinking and are guaranteed to get any party going, but for me at this time of year it’s a perfect occasion to drink English fizz. Estates like Nyetimber, Camel Valley, Sugrue Pierre and Ridgeview are snapping at the heels of the Champenois with their classy, elegant bubblys.

My favourite has got to be Blanc de Blancs from Nyetimber in West Sussex, as the elegance, racy acidity and ability to mature is remarkable, often showing flavours of orchard fruits balanced by toasted brioche.

White

Sauvignon Blanc has long been a favourite of many people as a first introduction to wine since chardonnay became a little over blown, but even now many regulars are moving to cool and trendy grapes, like Grüner Veltliner, Viognier and Picpoul. But for me there is nothing better than a glass of cold Albarino from Rias Baixas in North West Spain. This grape has taken the market by storm and is now being planted in New Zealand, California and South Africa with great results, however it is in the cool, verdant Atlantic influenced zone of Galicia that it shows its purest form. Pazo Senorans produce one of the cleanest, freshest versions and this works beautifully when sitting down to fresh crab salad or a plateau de fruits de mer, delicious, but always try to go for the youngest vintage available.

Rosé

Who wasn’t first introduced to rosé wines with Mateus from Portugal? I admit I have drunk (and enjoyed) this in the past, especially ice cold in the Algarve with a plate of locally caught sardines, but back in the UK I would tend to look to France for a great rosé wine. Provence and the Mediterranean coast makes some of the most delicious, delicately coloured wines available, often from Carignan, Syrah, Grenache or other grapes that you would rarely see. First started by running off some of the first pressed juice as a way of improving the body of red wines, they are now usually made as a rosé from the start and can handle many of the rich Mediterranean sauces and flavours used in regional dishes. I particularly enjoy well chilled glass of Chateau Vignelaure rose from Aix-en-Provence with grilled lamb cutlet and a herby ratatouille side dish.

Red

Pinot Noir for me sums up the flavours of summer, bursting with red fruits that are reminiscent of strawberries, raspberries and currants, its almost like you’re getting a glass full of summer pudding!

Don’t be frightened of serving a good New World Pinot slightly chilled either, as this can express more of that fruit character without the heaviness of any oak or excess alcohol. When it comes to Californian Pinot Noir for me it has to be Sonoma, with Russian River being a firm favourite for its balance, elegance and softness of character, Benovia Estates single vineyard range from Pommeraie or Cohn Vineyard are my top picks, that work beautifully with lamb and pork but equally well with a meaty fish like turbot with wild mushrooms and a red wine jus.

Sweet

When it comes to summer desserts I prefer fresh berries, straight from the garden with clotted cream or a little crème fraiche, and so for this pairing a delicate fruity style of dessert wine is called for that will balance the wonderful fragrance of fresh berries without over powering it. A delightful Moscato makes a great choice be it Moscato d’Asti from Italy with its ripe, grapey fruit and soft mousse or from Australia perhaps a Pink Moscato, try Mrs Wiggly by Wirra Wirra, its great on its own but can equally make some great summer cocktails using gin or Pimms as a base!

Cheers

Alan Holmes
Restaurant and Wine Director

July Events

Sparkling_Summer_Header

HARDBOILED – The fall of Sam Shadow at Watermill Theatre
1st July to 12th July

Created by Rhum and Clay theatre company and Beth Flintoff, this play explores the character Sam Shadow, a guy who has a long list of enemies, drinks a lot and is wise crack investigator and how he comes into contact with a beautiful Scarlett Crawford who knocks him out of the park. She brings him no ordinary case to solve, which in the end leads to a number of double crosses, car chases, gangsters and police chiefs.

Back by popular demand after last year’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Rhum and Clay invite you to step into the farcical world of gangsters, investigators and femmes fatales.

Tickets from £14

For performance times and further details, please visit www.watermill.org.uk


Ramsbury Silver Band at Victoria Park
6th July  – 3pm to 5pm

What better way to spend an afternoon after a day of retail therapy then to enjoy one of the local brass bands or silver bands playing at the bandstand in the beautiful victoria park in Newbury. Ramsbury Silver band originates back to the 1900 when founder Thomas Hobbs formed the band to play hymms for the Methodist church. They are well known for entreating people up and down the region and have made a name for themselves by winning many prizes at competitions both in Wilshire and afield.

Free entry – Bring your picnic rugs, deck chairs and relax for a couple of hours!

For further details see www.newbury.gov.uk


Tosca at The Racecourse Newbury
12th July  – 7pm to 10pm

Gates open at 6pm and the performance starts at 7.00pm.

Opera for all. Greenham Common Trust are happy to announce the return of Britain leading outdoor opera company opera brava and southern sinfonia to The Racecouse Newbury. They will be playing Tosca by Puccini – a heart wrenching tale of love mixed with betrayal and murder.

Guests are very welcome to bring their own chairs and picnics to the event or sit on the grandstand steps or the artificial grass and picnic tables provided.

Tickets are available from Newbury Corn Exchange box office.

Prices from £5 per adult and under 16s free – For further details see www.cornexchangenew.com


Marlborough Jazz Festival
18th to 20th July

A fantastic event for jazz enthusiasts and fun for all the family. They have a brilliant line up  this year with headline acts; Georgie Fame, Darius Brubeck Quartet and Clare Teal.

Tickets range from £25.00 to £66.00 and can be purchased online – http://tickets.marlboroughjazz.com/

Discover more about the Marlborough Jazz Festival online


The Beach Boys at Party in the Paddock at The Racecourse Newbury
19th July  – 11am to 7pm

Concert – Approx. 5.15pm

The Beach Boys are coming to Newbury for one night only! Enjoy a full day of horse racing featuring the Weatherby’s Super Sprint, which for this day is themed ‘Retro at the races’, encoring you to get into your retro gear and enjoy the festivities! Following this then one of the most successful band ever will perform a live show for you to take you back into those retro years!

Prices from £25.00 per adult and £15 per child

For further details see www.theracecoursenewbury.co.uk


Champagne Jazz Lunch at The Vineyard
20th July – 12pm to 4pm

The perfect Summer Sunday; live jazz, great food and unlimited Champagne! Sit back, relax and listen to the soulful sounds of jazz whilst enjoying a three course lunch and unlimited Champagne with friends and family.

£49 per person

Please call The Vineyard on 01635 589407 or see www.the-vineyard.co.uk/events.asp to book

Planning a Wedding – Setting a Budget

WeddingRoses at The VineyardSo you’re engaged? Congratulations. Now comes the long and arduous (but ultimately fulfilling) task of planning your big day. Where do you start?

The first thing to do is to sit down with your partner and decide a budget figure. Deciding this as early as possible will help you avoid going over the budget later. If you and your fiancé are funding the wedding yourselves, assess your joint income, and how much you might be able to save up (e.g. by forgoing holidays, expensive birthday celebrations etc). It’s sensible to have a date in mind, even if it’s not the finalised date. If you and/or your fiancé’s parents have offered to contribute towards the wedding fund, find out from them how much they would be willing to spend.

Plan Ahead
Now, think about the kind of wedding you want. Do you want a large, lavish affair or a smaller, more intimate gathering? Don’t get too bogged down in all the little details at this point – the objective is to simply set out a vision of what you want your wedding to be, and work out how much (if not all) of your vision is achievable with the money you have.
If the parents are offering to pay towards the wedding, discuss your vision with them and ask them what kind of wedding they want. You’ll have your own plans in mind, but it’s only fair that they get to give some input on your big day, so find out exactly what input they actually want to give. They may well tell you that you’re free to spend the money on whatever you like – or they may expect more creative freedom over the wedding.

Choose Your Guests
Next, draw up a rough guest list – this doesn’t need to be too detailed in the early stages, so don’t spend your time arguing over who to invite! Just get a good idea of how many people you want at your big day, as then you can assess what venues will be able to cater for your party of guests and get a good ballpark figure of how much you can expect to pay for the venue.

Create a spreadsheet and begin adding all the things guests will need (but don’t worry about including everything straight away, as you’ll end up adding more things as you go anyway). Find out what each of these will cost – don’t be tempted to estimate! – and multiply the cost by the number of guests.

If the cost comes in above your budget limit, make a note of the things you’d be willing to sacrifice (we recommend creating a digital spreadsheet, so you can simply highlight the things which you might be willing to drop). Talk about this together, and be prepared to compromise. If there are things on the spreadsheet that you absolutely need to keep, but you balk at the price tag, investigate cheaper ways of getting them – for example, rather than paying to have your invitations printed, you could potentially print them yourself for a lower price.

If you’re planning a wedding, look out for further tips and advice our blog, and take a look at our Weddings page to discover more about the wedding services we offer.

A Memorable Trip to Bordeaux

20140520_154840
By Antonino Ciaccio (one of our sommeliers)

Last month I was lucky enough to spend two days in Bordeaux visiting one of the top, highly regarded wine estates, ‘Chateau Haut Brion’ and the more recent ‘La Mission Haut Brion’.

20140520_160827Accompanied by five other people on the trip, we were welcomed by the very friendly Sales Manager, Clément Marcotte de Quivières, who drove us to visit the two estates. It was fantastic to see the cellars and the work behind the wineries, and I was impressed by the handmade copper barrels, which the barrel maker spends six months on site making three barrels a day.

My favourite wine has to be ‘Haut Brion 1999′, which has a deep intense ruby colour, plum and dark cherry nose with a leathery character. It has a round intense, silky tannin, balanced acidity and long finish with a touch of spiciness.

Next we visited the tasting room where together with the guide where we had the chance to taste six of the wines ‘en primeur’ (the ones which have been made from the last harvest). The quality of these wines were fantastic even though the barrel ageing wasn’t complete.

20140520_151746After the tasting, we were driven to our lovely guest house, which was an impressive house, traditional in style and furnished with early 20th century furniture. That evening we had a lovely informal food and wine matching dinner with white, rose and red Clarendelle wines, hosted by the Managing Director, Gérard Blanloeil who told us all about how the estate is now so renowned that they sell their wine in over 50 countries and is becoming more popular now in Asian countries.

The next day, after a tasty classic breakfast and a good hot cup of French coffee, we went for an extensive wine tasting hosted by Clément Marcotte de Quivières who showed a range of La Clarendelle wines; a white 2012, a red 2008, and surprisingly a rose. To finish, we tasted a fantastic dessert wine from the estate.

20140521_122334Our trip came to an end with a memorable lunch hosted by Hospitality Manager Séverine Luke-Paris. We ate in a big old-fashioned style “salle a manger” with a Champagne aperitif and a great classic French lunch served with outstanding matching wines from the estate.

Our first course of green asparagus and vinaigrette sauce was served with two white wines; ‘la mission haut brion ‘ and ‘haut brion white’ with our second course of Cote de boeuf with vegetables and potatoes matched with ‘la mission haut brion 2003′ red and ‘haut brion 1999′. Next followed the delicious cheese course, which was matched with ‘le clarance de haut brion’. To finish we enjoyed a lovely ‘La Clarendelle’ sweet white wine matched with homemade strawberry cake.

Personally, this trip was an experience that has shown me how deep the root of the French gastronomic culture is, and how brilliantly able (not easily) the French maintain the balance between the old wine region wine techniques and tradition and the contemporary world of wine that is a necessity of a 21st century generation.

We have a wine dinner hosted by Haut Brion and Clarendelle on Thursday 25th September at The Vineyard so pop the date in your diaries. More details will be posted on our website shortly.

Winter Weddings at The Vineyard, Berkshire

WeddingRoseBlkIf you are planning your wedding no doubt people are throwing all sorts of well meaning ideas and suggestions your way… so here is one from us that you might not have considered - a Winter Wedding.

The season has warmth, spicy scents in the air and a feel-good buzz that helps set the mood for a very special occasion. Come November the nights are drawing in and the festive period is on the horizon, what could be better than starting the build-up by tying the knot and celebrating Christmas as husband and wife? There again, Christmas has to be one of the best feel-good times of the year so why not set your wedding date right in the middle of that? It is a great opportunity to bring both families together and with the seasonal decorations adding a perfect backdrop to your big day.

Be creative with your menu
When it comes to the menu you could be traditional with turkey and cranberry sauce or pick something from our winter wedding menu that will give your guests a completely different experience to a summer wedding.

Theming your wedding
The winter season also offers a number of unique advantages over the other seasons of the year, which can make your wedding day extra special. With the nights drawing in you can use lighting to great effect, imagine every table having candles and the guests sitting in pools of flickering light with warm glows on their faces.

Winter wedding photography
And the winter weather can create a truly picturesque, romantic backdrop for wedding pictures. The natural light and dramatic clouds are ideal for beautiful, stylish photographs, and in the evening the ambient light escaping from windows provides some great photo opportunities. There is also the potential for snow bringing new meaning to the phrase ‘white wedding’ and the romantic imagery associated with that.

Beat the January blues with a wedding
Post Christmas there seems to be a lull in people’s diaries and your wedding in January could be the event that brings light into their month – plus you will find that suppliers are less busy and keen to offer a favourable price. Or maybe you could hold until Valentine’s Day and make it a very romantic occasion.

Exotic honeymoon destinations
But probably the best reason for having a wedding in this period is a honeymoon somewhere warm! What could be better than leaving a wintry Britain and heading for sunnier climes? It’s the perfect time to book your honeymoon to a fair flung destination like the Caribbean or Thailand.

To find out more about the luxurious wedding facilities available here, and how we could host your Winter Wedding, call us on 01635 589407 or visit our weddings page

Berkshire Events in June

4th June  – Beauty and The Beast at the Corn Exchange
Ballet Cymru brings to life this timeless story using the company’s unique blend of classical technique and storytelling. Ballet Cymru has been nominated by the Critics Circle National Dance Awards in 2013 as Best Independent Company as they perform a sparkling and refreshing ballet based on the eternal fairy tale.
Tickets – £16
Book online or call the Corn Exchange box office on 0845 5218 218


4th June – Wine School at The Vineyard– Can English wines really compete?
6.30pm to 8pm
With recent warmer weather conditions improving quality and consistency, along with an increasing demand, English wines are becoming a popular choice among consumers and diners. We’ve chosen a number of fantastic English wines for you to taste and learn about the grapes and problems that arise from producing wine in our moderate climate.          
£30 per person
Please call 01635 589407 to book and discover more


7th June 2014 -The Newbury Chamber Choir: Secrets of the Universe
Arlington Arts Centre
A programme of English music, dance and opera featuring a rare staged performance of Holst’s beautiful chamber opera Savitri. Based on an incident in Hindu mythology, Savitri outwits Death who has come to claim her husband… The title role is taken by Elaine McKrill who is well-known in many leading opera-houses and she is partnered by Andrew Dickinson, a rapidly rising star.
Tickets – £13
Book online or call Arlington Arts Centre box office on 01635 244246


14th and 15th June – No Fit State Circus in Newbury town centre
Coming to Northbrook street in Newbury on the 14th and 15th June is a daytime circus experience which takes place in public spaces.  Part of the Corn Exchange outdoor programme funded by Greenham Common trust and Arts Council England.
Tickets are free
Discover more about this event


Thursday 12th June – Summer Racing at The Racecourse Newbury
Start your weekend early and in style with a day of summer Flat racing with family, friends or colleagues. Enjoy award-winning fine dining in The Hennessy restaurant with panoramic views of the course, overlooking the winning post.

Don’t fancy driving, then why not think about coming by train? Newbury Racecourse has it’s own stop and is only one stop from Newbury itself or six stops from Reading station.
Tickets from £16
Discover more about this event 


From 22nd May to 28th June – A Bunch of Amateurs
The Watermill Theatre
Keen to boost his flagging career, fading Hollywood action hero, Jefferson Steele, arrives in England to play King Lear in Stratford only to find that this is not the birthplace of the Bard but a sleepy Suffolk village and the cast are a bunch of amateurs. Jefferson’s monstrous ego, vanity and insecurity are tested by the enthusiastic amateur thespians – who are not averse to a spot of ego, vanity and insecurity themselves. As acting worlds collide and Jefferson’s career implodes, he discovers some truths about himself and his relationships with other people… along with his inner Lear!

Evening performances begin at 7.30pm and matinées on Thursday and Saturday begin at 2.30pm
Tickets from £15
Discover more about this event   

The Resurgence of Sherry

Our Restaurant and Wine Director, Alan Holmes, was lucky enough to take a trip to Jerez de la Frontera for an opportunity to see Sherry production first hand. He tells us all about the revitalised industry, the infamous cellars, what makes ‘En Rama’ is so special and finally Sherry that tastes like Christmas pudding!

When I was first invited to Jerez de la Frontera for an opportunity to see Sherry production firsthand, I thought it would be interesting from an educational point of view, after all a sip of sherry at Christmas was my first opportunity to taste wines at a young age!

Now a modern thinking industry
However, what I didn’t realise was the shock and enlightenment of a revitalised, energised and very modern thinking industry the Sherry industry has become. We were hosted by Gonzalez Byass, famed for their dry Fino sherry, Tio Pepe, which in itself is a legend in this area, a reportedly 700,000 bottles are drunk in the Feria (festival week) in Jerez alone and 1.5 million in Sevilles Feria week (This accounts for 36% of the total Spanish annual sales!)

A welcome dinner and the spectacular Feria
Our first evening dinner started with an ice cold glass of Tio Pepe and a selection of charcuterie and seafood, which was a welcome refresher after our flight. The first thing that struck our group was how cleansing, refreshing and a perfect match with the array of salted and savoury dishes the wine was. Our expert host Jeremy, stated that unfortunately we often keep Fino sherry too long and serve it too warm; the best way to drink it is young and well chilled, that way it slips down a treat! Dish after dish followed, each one matching beautifully with the cold, fresh Fino sherry.

After dinner, we were taken to the main park in Jerez where the festival of the horses is staged for the week long Feria. An amazing onslaught of the senses ensued with lights, colourful costumes, sights, sounds and aromas from all sides, the Spanish certainly know how to throw a party! We were taken to the central stage, a private entertaining area for the International guests of Gonzalez Byass who come from all corners of the globe for this particular week. Here, we met representatives from China, USA and South America, all big markets for Sherry.

One of the original cellarsA tour of the infamous cellars
The following morning, feeling surprisingly fresh… we departed for the cellars, however Gonzalez Byass is more like a village within a city. It has its own streets, its own train service, its own ageing cellar built by a certain Monsieur Eiffel and its own cathedral (all be it a massive wine ageing cathedral). It was here that we were introduced to Antonio Flores, a man with Sherry for blood who was not only born in the cellar, but reportedly conceived there too!

The secrets behind the Palomino grape
He is Mr Gonzalez Byass, with an inside knowledge and experience above most. He explained the special relationship between the Palomino grape, the highly absorbent chalky Albariza soil of Jerez and the cooling, moist Atlantic breeze that makes quality grape growing possible. Cool damp winds blow in off the Atlantic depositing heavy rains in a short period of time in the winter, more so than London in some years. This is soaked up by the porous chalky white soils known as Albariza.

The Palomino grape variety grows well on these soils and is able to get to this moisture throughout even the hottest summers, giving fresh, high acid fruit perfect for dry sherry production. This is then pressed and fermented, before being fortified to 15.5% and placed into barrels (but only to 4/5 full) to age in what is known as a solera system. It is while in these barrels a yeast, known as flor, grows on top of the wine gradually eating up any remaining sugar and preventing oxidation of the wine, making it completely bone dry.

Blending for the final product occurs by the removal of 1/3 from the lower level, which is refilled from 1/3 younger wine/ which is refilled from 1/3 even younger wine until over time you end up with a consistent high quality wine. This is clarified and filtered to remove any sediment before bottling.

En Rama is taking Sherry drinkers by storm
Occasionally certain barrels will produce an exceptional expression of high quality wine, these barrels are then separated and used for a very recent and innovative style of Fino sherry that is taking sherry drinkers by storm. Known as En Rama or in its raw state, it is bottled unfiltered and unrefined, and best drunk within months of release, showing all the delicacy, intensity and varying nuances that come with tasting the wine straight from the barrel! To prove his point he poured us some wine straight from one of the barrels using a traditional Venenciador, the wine was delicious with a fresh baked bready aroma and zingy fresh palate. Next on our tour were the cellars. Cool and humid areas that are important to allow the flor to grow well while the sherry ages.

Winston Churchill barrelFor a company like Gonzalez Byass that has been at the heart of sherry production for so many years there is a wealth of history from the Royal cellars where each King or Queen of Spain is dedicated a barrel of sherry, to the many famous people who have visited and signed a barrel. Other famous dignitaries like Sir Winston Churchill and every recent Pope have also been presented with their own barrel.

Tio Pepe girlsChristmas pudding Sherry…yum
At the end of the tour we were given a complete masterclass on the production, styles and variety of different aged sherries available. Fino being the driest, Oloroso being a dry sherry that has not been allowed to grow any flor, Palo Cortado which is a longer aged Fino or Oloroso with wonderful nutty aromas, and then a selection of 30 year old sherries that used some Pedro Ximenez grapes and tasted like liquid Christmas pudding! This visit and masterclass certainly opened up my eyes to the variety of Sherry and versatility as a food and wine match for many difficult dishes, so look out for some appearing by the glass at The Vineyard soon, then you too can be a part of the Sherry revival.

 Cheers!

Alan Holmes
Restaurant and Wine Director

 

Daniel’s Deconstructed Poached Rhubarb and Pistachio Crumble

Daniel Galmiche - Revolutionary French Cooking

I’m very excited to tell you that my new book, Revolutionary French Cooking, launched on Thursday 1st May. This is just one of my recipes that’s great to try now. I hope you enjoy!

This is a very different type of crumble from the one your grandmother used to make, as the rhubarb is gently poached in a lemon-grass-infused syrup and then elegantly layered in a glass with a lemon and lime cream and topped with a crispy pistachio crumble. It makes a deliciously elegant and modern twist on an old favourite.

Serves 4

Preparation time – 20 minutes, plus at least 3 hours chilling

Cooking time – 50 minutes

400g/140z rhubarb, peeled, peelings reserved, cut in 2.5cm/1 in long pieces
100g/3 ½ /scant ½ cup caster sugar
1 lemongrass stalk, split and bruised

For the lemon and lime cream
185ml/6floz/¾ cup double cream
2 tbsp. caster sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
Finely grated zest of ½ lemon
Finely grated zest of ½ lime

For the pistachio crumble
100g/ 3 ½ oz/heaped ¾ cup icing sugar
100g/ 3 ½ oz/heaped ¾ cup plain flour
A pinch of salt
75g/ 2 ½oz /¾cup ground almonds
40g/1 ½ oz/scant ⅓ cup shelled pistachios, roughly chopped
100g/3 ½ oz unsalted butter, softened

 1 To make the lemon and lime cream, put the cream and sugar in a small saucepan over a high heat and bring to the boil. Put the lemon juice and both zests in a small jug and as soon as the cream comes to the boil, pour it into the jug and mix quickly to combine. Pour the hot cream mixture into four sundae glasses, leave to cool, then chill in the fridge for at least three hours.

 2 Put the rhubarb, rhubarb peelings, sugar and lemongrass in a sauté pan and just cover with water. Heat over a low heat until simmering, then cook for 15-20 minutes until the rhubarb is just tender but keeps its shape. Strain through a fine sieve into the cleaned pan, then return the syrup to the heat and cook until it has reduced by half and is thick and syrupy. Meanwhile, discard the rhubarb peelings and the lemongrass and put the rhubarb in a shallow non-metallic dish. Pour the reduced syrup over the top of the rhubarb and leave to cool while you make the crumble.

3 Preheat the oven to 160 °C/315 °F/gas 2 ½. Put all the crumble ingredients into a large mixing bowl and rub gently with your fingertips to make a coarse crumb mixture. Tip into a baking tray in an even layer and bake for 20-25 minutes until golden brown. Turn the crumble mixture, bringing the edges into the centre and spreading it out into an even layer again every 6-8 minutes to make sure it cooks evenly. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely until crunchy.

4 Take the cream-filled glasses out of the fridge and top with the rhubarb. Drizzle with the syrup and finish with the crumble, gently sprinkling it over the top. Serve immediately while the crumble is still crunchy.

 Happy Cooking!

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Daniel Galmiche