All posts by The Vineyard

Events in Berkshire this September

Glasses in a row3rd September – Wine School at The Vineyard –  Ageing Gracefully

6.30pm to 8pm
Join us for a celebration of wines that become better with age. You’ll taste some fantastic wines which have aged extremely well, and you’ll be given a fascinating insight into buying wines for future ageing and investment.

£30 per person

Discover more online


6th September – Mary Berry Book signing at Camp Hopson

10.30am – 4.30pm
With the arrival of her new cookbook “Mary Berry cooks the perfect”, due out on the 1st of September, Mary will be signing copies at Camp Hopson in Newbury Town. Camp Hopson themselves are incorporating her visit with a ‘cookery themed’ day, which will consist of other demonstrations throughout the day.

Discover more online


8th September – Ladies’ Lunch with Charlie Barton at The Vineyard

12pm to 3pm
Join Berkshire based artist Charlie Barton, known for her paintings inspired by the cosmos. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, and is working towards a solo exhibition in London at The Club at The Ivy in late September.

Charlie will be showcasing a range of her paintings at the Ladies’ Lunch and the week running up to the event, and will be signing a limited number of prints on the day.

Three courses with matching wines – £60 per person

Discover more online


6th – 8th September - Chieveley Flower Festival

Come and see all things floral with the Chieveley Flower Festival, including craft stalls, tea and refreshments, a BBQ and an accompanying art exhibition created by local artists of the surrounding area.

The ‘Let there be Light” festival is being held over three days at St. Mary’s Church, Chieveley.

Discover more online


13th September – Shaw House open-air cinema

The last in the series of movie showings this year will be the multi Oscar winning Les Miserables. Set in 19th-century France, Jean Valjean, who for years has been hunted by the ruthless policeman Javert after breaking parole, agrees to care for a factory worker’s daughter. The decision changes their lives forever.

A large area of the garden will be set up so pop your deckchairs and picnics around and feel free to bring your own food and drink.

Tickets available from Newbury Visitor Information Centre, Town Hall, Market Place or on 01635 30267. Priced at £12.50 per adult or £8.50 per child/student

The film will commence after sunset and will go ahead even if the weather is inclement, but please bring an umbrella if you think you may need it.

Discover more online 


17th – 20th September – Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet at the Corn Exchange

The classic tale of two lovers, torn apart by the anger of their apposing families in Verona, this dynamic new theatre production combines the purity and beauty of Shakespeare’s original text with entrancing contemporary street dance.

Directed by Rae Mcken(Artistic Director, Custom/Practice), in collaboration with choreographer Kenrick ‘H20’ Sandy and composer Michael ‘Mikey J’ Asante from the Olivier award winning hip-hop dance company, Boy Blue.

Meet and Greet: Stay behind after the 1pm show on Thursday 18 November or after the 7:45pm show on Friday 19 November to meet the cast!

Tickets: £15, concessions £13

Discover more online  


20th September – Dubai Duty Free International Weekend at the Racecourse

11am – 6pm
Featuring top class horseracing with two Group races, sporting masterclasses and trick shot shows.

Gates Open – 11.00am. Last race is 4.40pm
General tickets are priced from £18 – £30

Discover more online


20th – 21st September – Royal County Show at Newbury Showground

8am-6pm
The Royal County of Berkshire Show has something for everyone! See everything from chickens, llamas, horse driving and pigs showing skills in the animal show. Alongside this taste Britain’s finest foods and watch cooking demonstrations to get your cooking skills up and running. Traditional crafts and horticultural displays are around to take a look at and have a try yourself. To finish the day, come and watch the best in show jumping, the wonderful spectacle of the Livestock Grand Parade and the breath taking Hot Air Balloon flight.

Tickets from £15

Discover more online


25th September – An Evening with Clarendelle Winery at The Vineyard

7pm arrival for 7.30pm
Join us for an exquisite four course dinner matched with fantastic wines from the Clarendelle estate with an extra special main course wine from La Mission Haut-Brion.

£120 per person

View menu and discover more online


27th September – Rubys Vintage and Retro Fair

10am-4pm
Ruby’s are fabulous Vintage and Retro Fairs in the West Berkshire area!
They run regular fairs in Newbury and each fair is full of vintage, retro & unique object d’art, jewellery, clothing, homeware, vintage and upcycled furniture and everything in between.

You can also sit down for a vintage style tea at their themed tea room.

Park House School, Newbury RG14 6NQ – They have moved venue from Newbury College to Park House School, Newbury RG14 6NQ but will still be full of vintage loveliness along with a pop-up vintage tea room. There is plenty of free parking on site and the location is easy to find at the southern end of Newbury on the Andover Road.

Discover more online 

Where would we be without herbs?

Bundle of fresh Kitchen HerbsBy Daniel Galmiche

I cannot remember a day when there were no herbs in my home or my kitchen, and if such an instance we ever to happen, it would purely be by accident. Would I be able to cook without them? Yes, because I love my trade. Would I like it? Probably not.

It’s very hard to explain how essential herbs are to the cooking process or how profoundly they enhance food, whether added to a salad, meat, fish, vegetables or even a dessert. They have such an important place in the kitchen simply because they bring so much taste, so much scent, so much colour to a dish.

Like everyone, I have a few favourite herbs that I often use. One of them is thyme; one of the most versatile and commonly used herbs in the kitchen. It is especially good with meats such as pork, lamb and mutton because it aids the digestion of fats, and it’s also used in stuffing, ragout, and the all-essential bouquet garni- my standard bouquet garni is made up of a sprig of thyme, a sprig of parsley and a bay leaf.

Another herb I like to use is lavender. Many people do not associate lavender with cooking and are surprised to find it in food, but it is a versatile culinary herb. It is great in meat and poultry dishes as well as desserts. We use it in our specialities at The Vineyard. For example, lavender infused in honey and chilli gives a wonderful flavour to fish dishes.

My favourite herb to cook with is rosemary. Whilst it’s difficult to explain why I love it so much, I suspect it is partly because it is so evocative of my childhood, reminding me of when I would cut it freshly from our garden at home to go in whatever dish Maman was preparing that day.

When mixed with other ingredients, rosemary changes character. It is a great herb, but it’s strength can be lethal, and adding too much of it can make a dish taste bitter. Using rosemary carefully is therefore crucial – but when you succeed, you have a heavenly scent.

Growing a variety of herbs in your very own herb garden, whether in your kitchen or on a balcony, a roof terrace or window sill, is a great idea, especially if you cook a lot. Not only does this allow you to control the quality of herbs you use in your cooking, but it also means you regularly get to use fresh herbs whose flavour is completely different from and far superior to the flavour of shop bought dried herbs.

Choose your wedding entertainment

Wedding quartetOften, wedding entertainment can play a big part in your wedding day and the key is to choose the right entertainment that fits with you and your guests, be that a recommended DJ, live band, wedding singer or even a silent disco!

DJs, live bands and wedding singers
If you opt to go for a DJ or live band at your wedding, there are a number of questions that are worth asking before you go ahead and sign on the dotted line. After all, their music selection and announcements will truly set the tone for your reception so definitely set some time aside to interview prospective DJs and bands. So find out how long they’ve been going for and whether this is their sole job as this should give you a good indication of their passion for music and how serious they are. Having an assistant DJ is worth considering so check with your prospective DJs if they plan to bring one along to help with the setting up and breaking down of equipment and giving the main DJ a break during the evening.

Check to make sure you know what their contingency plan is if they are sick and unable to make your wedding. Often they will have DJs and bands they know who will step in if this happens. Another good piece of advice to ask to see photos of their set up so you are not unpleasantly surprised on the day, and check to make sure they are insured.

Guests will often ask for their favourite songs to be played so it’s worth ask the DJs and bands you’re interviewing how they handle requests. Many brides and grooms now ask their guests for the song requests before the day via their wedding websites or on rsvp cards so this might be a good option for you. A very important thing to remember is to give them a list of ‘must play’ and ‘do not play’ songs and always read through the contract and ask questions if there’s anything you don’t understand.

String quartets and musicians
Music is definitely one way to really set the scene for a ceremony, wedding reception or wedding breakfast and having background music played by a string quartet, saxophonist, guitarist to name but few is worth looking into. Whilst a string quartet is traditionally known to play classical music, many will be open to suggestions and play modern songs if they have them in their repertoire.

Wedding singers
Wedding singer B & WWhilst some may think back to Adam Sandler in The Wedding Singer and have a horrible misconception of what a wedding singer is all about, don’t be put off as times have changed and there is now a good number quality singers out there to choose from including opera singers, solo artists and tribute singers. You may even hear a busker on a street that you love the sound of, so why not ask them to play at your wedding?

Silent disco
For something a little bit different, and where noise needs to be kept to a minimum after a certain time, a silent disco is becoming a popular option. Whilst it might seem a little futuristic for some, it could end up being the thing that makes your wedding stand out from the rest.

View our list of preferred wedding partners to discover more

Calling all mums-to-be – ‘Bumps A Daisy’ pregnancy range

Bumps A Daisy range - blogRead on to find out why the Bumps a Daisy range is so great for expectant Mums:

Pregnancy is one of the most profound stages in your life – although a wonderful, nurturing and exciting time, the impact on your body is often overwhelming and both physically and emotionally draining. We believe, taking care of Mum and bump is crucial – ensuring you take the time to rest and relax it vital during this exciting time!

The Natural Spa Factory has developed its pregnancy range, Bumps A Daisy. A beautifully scented pregnancy set consisting of a body scrub, bath and body oil, and body moisturiser – which are achingly good and have been getting rave reviews.

Developed to keep you looking bumpsilicious by tackling the common pregnancy woes, the Bumps A Daisy set is gentle and nourishing.

Infused with a delicate sweet mandarin and soothing neroli, palmarosa and rosewood oil, they are combined with a natural sweet almond oil, to leave your skin feeling beautifully nourished, ensuring moisture is locked in whilst helping to keep stretch marks at bay.

The body scrub is designed to soften those dry bits with its gentle yet effective olive stone scrub for elbows, knees and tired feet. The Body Oil protects and nourishes the skin, helping with the appearance of stretch marks, whilst the fabulous Body Moisturiser helps to restore moisture, ease the effects of water retention and increase circulation, resulting in a more restful night’s sleep (which is good for everyone)!

If you’d like to try these products for yourself, pop into The Vineyard Spa to test the whole range. Alternatively, why not try The Vineyard Pampering Pregnancy Massage which uses products from the Bumps a Daisy range? View treatment

Mushroom Foraging Tips from Daniel Galmiche

Mushrooms imageWhat you need to know before you go foraging for mushrooms
Before you start to forage for mushrooms you must learn about them as collecting and easting the wrong mushrooms can make you very sick or even kill you. At first go foraging with someone who knows what is edible and what is not. Once you have some experience, you can go on your own, but you should still take a good field guide with you, and always check you’ve picked an edible variety. Prepare the wild mushrooms and wash them well. Slugs, snails and other unwanted inhabitants love them too!

Trompettes de la mort
Generally, trompettes de la mort are common woodland mushrooms resembling black funnels. They are slightly tough in texture and often chopped and added to a sauce or mixed with other mushrooms. They can also be dried. I like these mushrooms for their very earthy flavour.

Girolles or chanterelles
These are funnel shaped and found mainly in hardwood and coniferous forests, especially in older, moss-rich forests, and they are usually picked between June and October. They are an orange yellow colour with a delicate stalk. With their nutty flavour, they are beautiful when pan-fried with herbs and served with pasta.

Ceps
There’s nothing more satisfying than collecting mushrooms, bringing them home and cooking them. I particularly like ceps (called porcini in Italian) with their large, bulbous stalks. They are best eaten young, and are delicious cooked in omelettes or velouté sauces. There are plenty of ceps in Britain – for example, in the New Forest – but they can also be found dried or in jars in oil.

Field and morel mushrooms
There are hundreds of common mushrooms such as button and brown mushrooms, but some of the tastiest include field and morel mushrooms. Field mushrooms are found in summer and autumn in rich, open, manured grasslands grazed by horses or cows, and are white to pinkish grey with a white stem. These were my Maman’s favourite and when I was younger we used to get up at dawn to collect them. They are delicious sautéed in butter and herbs.

Found in springtime, morels are very tasty. Their conical shape has a delightful honeycomb pattern and they have a delicate scent. I like them best cooked with a touch of cream and chopped chives. You can find morels in supermarkets and delicatessens.

Wild mushrooms are readily available during their seasons, and if you don’t pick them yourself you can find them in good supermarkets. They are usually dried in delicatessens and supermarkets all round. The flavour, texture and scent of wild mushrooms are very distinct; cultivated mushrooms are widely available but no match for unique appeal of their wild cousins!

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

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.