Category Archives: Wine and Spirits

Only a few weeks until our annual wine festival on 15th November

glassesinarow 580 x 288 Only a few weeks until our annual wine festival on 15th NovemberWell, with just a few weeks to go to our annual Wine Festival on 15th November, I have written the tasting book and compiled the wines to be poured on the day. I have to say that I’m really pleased with the line-up this year, with real diversity and quality so here’s a little “heads-up” on some of the delights in store… Tickets for the Wine Festival are just £25 and masterclass tickets are £5 per class. View masterclasses and suppliers

Glasses in a row 150x150 Only a few weeks until our annual wine festival on 15th NovemberWe do also have a five course dinner with matching wines to open the annual wine festival on the evening of 14th November. It’s going to be a very lively and entertaining affair with suppliers each giving an insight into the wines they’ve chosen to match with the dishes. We are filling up fast for this event, but do still have places left if you would like to join us. View menu

As you would expect, California will be well-covered on the day, showcasing the best of the true North Coast region (taking in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties) and wines such as Waterstone, Ferrari-Carano and Donelan Family will be on tasting. Donelan has been our success story of 2014 with just beautiful Chardonnay, Roussanne and Syrah. Peter Michael Winery will have a selection of Pinot Noir plus the Knights Valley flagship Les Pavots on the stand.

Turning to Europe, brilliant winemaker Dermot Sugrue (ex-Nyetimber) will have his Goringtumblr ma5g2y57h11rveocqo1 1280 150x150 Only a few weeks until our annual wine festival on 15th November Brut to show you just how good English fizz can be, however Champagne Taittinger will doubtless want to argue that point with their collection of wines open, plus I will stand my corner with Schramsberg Vineyards! Germany is covered by the wines of Weegmuller and Huesgen whilst Spain has Lopez de Heredia – surely the most classic Rioja you will find. On other stands South Africa, Italy, France and Austria are all showcased. This is truly a world wine festival!

And just to finish, we’ll be opening a selection of Sherries this year, plus a pair of beautiful Madeiras, the perfect Christmas day post prandial.

MeatPlatter 150x150 Only a few weeks until our annual wine festival on 15th NovemberThe Wine Festival begins at 12pm and finishes at 4pm. There will be over 150 wines to taste throughout the day and you’ll also be able to chat to WSET experts about the WSET courses we offer here.  Don’t forget,  your £25 wine ticket can be redeemed against a case of wine over the value of £250 and we also have a special lunch menu available in our restaurant for just £25 per person. To view the menu, please visit our website.

See you there…

James Hocking
Director of Wine
The Vineyard Cellars

Learn all about wine in a day with WSET

Glasses in a row Learn all about wine in a day with WSET

In our blog this week we’d like to give you an insight into what the Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Level 1 Award in Wines course is all about. Then you can decide whether it’s the right level for you.

What is WSET?

The Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) was founded in 1969 to provide high quality education and training in wines and spirits. Since then, WSET has grown into the foremost international body in the field of wines and spirits education, with a suite of sought-after qualifications.

The morning of the course

glassesinarow 580 x 288 150x150 Learn all about wine in a day with WSETYou’ll be asked to arrive at The Vineyard at 9.30am for registration and refreshments before the course begins at 10am. The morning session covers what wine is, the different wine styles, an you get to learn about sweetness, body and other factors such as oak, tannin and acidity.

 

Tasting wines and grape varieties

While tasting many different wines you’ll then move onto learning all about how climate affects the grapes’ acidity and sweetness amongst others things and then you’ll move onto the principal grape varieties. There will be activities through the morning to test your knowledge and help you learn all the important facts you’ll need for the exam. Other topics covered include how wine is made, how to taste wine like a professional.

A lovely lunch at The Vineyard’s restaurant

This is always a good time to break for lunch where you’ll enjoy a three course lunch withVineyard 69 150x150 Learn all about wine in a day with WSET matching wines in The Vineyard’s elegant restaurant. James Hocking, the WSET tutor, will talk you through the wines and why they match so well with each course so you can get a more practical understanding of food and wine matching. Take a look at our current lunch menu

Storage and service of wine

After a leisurely lunch it’s back to the classroom! The storage and service of wine is covered, which looks into the service temperature of different styles of wine, which glasses to use for which wines, preparing glasses and opening a bottle of wine, and social responsibility when drinking, amongst other things.

Food and wine pairing and the systematic approach to tasting

tumblr mg43b890cs1rveocqo1 1280 150x150 Learn all about wine in a day with WSETNext, you’ll be given a little plate with different foods to try with different wines and James will go through what happens to wine when you eat something sweet and when you eat a food that’s bitter. This will also depend on the style of wine. This part is very interesting and interactive and helps you understand the relationship between food and wine and the skill required to get food and wine pairing right. It does take practice, so don’t expect to get it right first time! Through the course you will be following the systematic approach to tasting, which allows you to identify and describe wines in six easy steps; colour, condition, sweetness, body, flavour characteristics and other which often includes tannin and acidity.

The exam

The course ends with a 30 multiple choice questionnaire that will test your knowledge of everything you’ve learned throughout the day. You will hear in about three weeks or so as to whether you have passed and we’ll send you out your certificate and lapel pin.

Please click here to discover more about our WSET Level 1 Award in Wines course. If you think you may know many of the topics above, you can move straight to our WSET Level 2 course.

We look forward to seeing you at one of our WSET courses in the near future.

James Hocking
WSET Tutor

Wine Tasting – A Perfect Autumn Activity

Glasses in a row 1024x609 Wine Tasting   A Perfect Autumn ActivityAs we say goodbye to summer (although hopefully we’ll have a few more balmy days) we look forward to autumn with the leaves turning to rich, vibrant colours
and being cosy inside warming ourselves in front of a roaring fire and enjoying a lovely glass of red wine.

Whether its red, white or rosé wine that takes your fancy or maybe all of them depending on your mood, dishes you’re matching wines with or simply the occasion, there’s lots of ways to have fun with wine.

tumblr mwbblh9Y6z1rveocqo1 1280 150x150 Wine Tasting   A Perfect Autumn ActivityWe’ve found that our selection of wine tasting masterclasses go down well with our corporate guests who’ve had a really productive day and simply want to relax and have fun with colleagues, but still learn a little. The blind tasting masterclass is always a good one to choose and gets everyone talking about the wine or wines in question. Or if you’re looking to perhaps focus on a specific country, region or style of wine, we can look to tailor your wine tasting to suit you and you team. Two of our popular wine tastings are Asian Influences and California Dreaming, but it’s really up to you to choose the topic that’s right for you. We are flexible with where we can hold the masterclasses too. They often take place in our California Bar, but can set up our Calistoga or Oakville suites to accommodate larger groups.

If you’re looking for something a little different then our cocktail masterclasses provide aCheese board with wine 377 x 221 150x150 Wine Tasting   A Perfect Autumn Activity perfect situation for further networking to take place in a fun and informal way. Our Gin Masterclass is a big favourite amongst both our corporate and leisure guests due to the rise in popularity in gin in recent years. Making your own cocktails is really interactive and is a enjoyable way to spend an hour learning new skills and catching up with colleagues. For the beer and cheese lovers among you, you’ll be pleased to hear that we also offer beer tasting and cheese tasting.

If you’re looking to host a meeting during the autumn months, we’d love to hear from you. Feel free to visit our website and see more about our meeting spaces online and please call us on 01635 589407 for more details and a personalised quotation.

Alan’s Summer Wine Suggestions

glassesinarow 580 x 288 Alans Summer Wine Suggestions When 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

A Memorable Trip to Bordeaux

20140520 154840 A Memorable Trip to Bordeaux
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 160827 150x150 A Memorable Trip to BordeauxAccompanied 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 151746 150x150 A Memorable Trip to BordeauxAfter 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 122334 150x150 A Memorable Trip to BordeauxOur 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.

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!

 The Resurgence of SherryNow 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.

 The Resurgence of SherryA 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  The Resurgence of Sherrythroughout 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.

 The Resurgence of SherryFor 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.

 The Resurgence of SherryChristmas 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

 

Chocolate and Wine – A Delicate Pairing

WineChoc email Chocolate and Wine   A Delicate PairingWe thought you might like to discover more about some of the wines that were tasted at our wine and chocolate hedonism masterclass on Wednesday evening. Wine and chocolate can be a tricky pairing so it’s worth remembering to avoid Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling and other high acid or drying whites. And for red wines, again avoid acidic grapes or cooler regions like Pinot Noir and Gamay or drying reds with bitter or dry tannins, like Nebbiolo and Sangiovese.

Why not join our Chocolate and Wine Matching Dinner on Friday 25th April and discover even more about this delicate pairing?

Schramsberg Blanc de Noir, Calistoga, California 2008

Schramsberg’s best selling wine is almost 100% Pinot Noir and consistently out classes Champagne in blind tastings around the world. Full bodied with rich toasty brioche notes and firm acidity. Our favourite fizz at the moment who’s quality has been consistent since its first vintage in 1965. It has lively aromas of apricot and persimmon, which gracefully lead to nuances of honey and lemon. The fruitful nose is complemented by vanilla spice and candied almond. The palate offers crisp and tart flavors of orange and lime rind, supported by a touch of roasted coffee. The finish is long and lingering

£25.26 per bottle – buy online


Juan Gil Monastrell 4, Jumilla, Spain 2012

A hugely intense nose with fresh juicy blackberry and plum fruit, delicate vanilla spice and cedar. The palate mirrors the nose with layers of lush spicy plum and cherry fruit, more sweet spice, minerality and gentle tannins to the finish.

£8.05 per bottle – buy online


Ferrari-Carano Black Muscat Eldorado Noir, Sonoma, California 2010

Luscious, mouth watering black Muscat with just enough acidity to keep each mouthful crisp and refreshing. Black Muscat is a very popular style in California and we are delighted to represent this one.

£22 per half bottle  – buy online


Holden Manz Good sPort, Franschoek, South Africa 2009

Smooth, soft entry with rich vanilla, coconut and raisin fruit exudes on the palate. This wine is rich and warm and has a long finish. With time, the balance between spirit and wine will harmonise creating a wonderfully complex offering.

£27.50 per bottle – buy online

 

Discover more about Californian Wineries

tumblr mwbblh9Y6z1rveocqo1 1280 Discover more about Californian Wineries

Vin-de-Cal is the international sales representative for select small family-owned wineries in California; Schramsberg, Ferrari-Carano, Benovia and Talley. Taste wines from all these wineries on Saturday 15th March at The Vineyard from 11am to 5pm and attend masterclasses throughout the day for just £40 for two tickets. Discover more

Schram old image1 150x150 Discover more about Californian WineriesSchramsberg was originally founded in 1862 by Joseph Schram, who made still wine. When he died the winery lay dormant until Jack and Jamie Davies bought it in 1965. The Davies’ plan was to make sparkling wine the same way that Champagne is made as no one in the U.S. was doing this. In 1972 President Nixon chose their Blanc de Blancs to toast Premier Zhou Enlai when the U.S. re-opened relations with China.

Schram bottle display1 150x150 Discover more about Californian WineriesSince that day Schramsberg has been poured by every President at the White House. The wines are frequently mistaken for Champagne in blind tastings. The wines are all vintage dated. The J Schram is Schramsberg’s signature wine and is the perfect balance of acidity and richness. The Blanc de Blancs is the most popular wine and works well as an aperitif and as an accompaniment to food. The winery is now in the hands of the Davies’ youngest son, Hugh.

bottle display FC 150x150 Discover more about Californian WineriesFerrari-Carano was founded by Don and Rhonda Carano in 1981. Both Caranos are of Italian descent and the rolling hills of Alexander Valley reminded them of Italy. They chose to add Don’s grandmother’s name, Ferrari, to the name of their winery as a tribute to her. Ferrari-Carano began by making Chardonnay and Fume Blanc. They established a highly acclaimed reputation for these wines. They added their red wines a few years later and are now known for both red and white wines.

FC couple 135x150 Discover more about Californian WineriesThe Fume Blanc continues to be one of their best loved wines. A well rounded, flavourful wine that is highly regarded by consumers and restaurants, and often served as a wine-by-the glass. On the red side, the Merlot is a favorite having rich berry fruit with firm structure, able to have as a glass,but perfect with duck or beef.

Benovia owners hi res 150x150 Discover more about Californian WineriesBenovia is a small winery owned by the couple, Joe Anderson and Mary Dewane, and the winemaker, Mike Sullivan. They founded the winery in 2007 when they bought the land in Russian River. They now also own a vineyard on the Sonoma Coast. Mike Sullivan built a reputation for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay before joining Jo and Mary in this venture.

Benovia offers Russian River Pinot Noir and Chardonnay as well as several vineyard select Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. The wines are consistently regarded highly by well-respected critics year after year Although the winery is small its reputation is growing for the balance of fruit and texture the wines provide. The Russian River Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are bright, full-flavoured wines on their own, but a great accompaniment to meals. The individual vineyard select wines are distinct in each case, reflecting the terroir where they are grown. Enjoy a vineyard designated Pinot Noir with fowl or heartier fish and the combination proves that the marriage of wine and food makes both better.

Talley couple 150x131 Discover more about Californian WineriesTalley began in 1948 when Oliver Talley founded Talley Farms and started growing specialty vegetables in the Arroyo Grande Valley. During the 1970s extensive planting of wine grapes began in the neighbouring Edna Valley and Santa Barbara County areas. After observation and extensive analysis, Oliver’s son, Don Talley, was convinced of the potential to grow high quality Chardonnay and Pinot Noir on the steep hillsides above Talley Farms. Don planted a small test plot in 1982. Over time the varietal and clonal selections were refined and planting expanded to a total of 165 acres in the Arroyo Grande and Edna Valleys.

Talley Vineyards produced its first wine in 1986 with the production of 450 cases. Today the third generation, Brian and Johnine Talley, own and operate Talley Vineyards. Producing only Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays fromtheir vineyards, the Talleys have put Arroyo Grande on the wine map. Their goal is to produce distinctive wines of consistently high quality that best express the unique character of each of the Talley family’s six vineyard sites in the two valleys.

Talley’s wines are highly regarded for their character and balance. The vineyard specific Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs are frequently singled out by wine writers for their reflection of the vineyard where they were grown. The wines are full-bodied, rich in fruit and exceptional in their pairing with food.

How the Wine World has Changed

tumblr mv8b936eut1rveocqo6 1280 How the Wine World has ChangedOver the last few months I have been working alongside James Hocking of The Vineyard Cellars on the new Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) courses that we are able to offer. It was while studying and preparing for this, when it struck me how much has changed in the 15 years or so since I originally started in the wine industry.

When the old world was dominant
Back then France was still the dominant country, with Spain and Italy close behind. Germany was having real problems shaking their cheap, sweet wine image and Austria was still suffering from the disastrous effects of the anti freeze scandal. Meanwhile in the New World, Australia was just seeing its gutsy Shiraz and Oaked Chardonnays gather momentum, New Zealand was on the rising tide of Cloudy Bay and its gooseberry laden Sauvignon Blancs, South Africa was stuck with Apartheid, California was overpriced and difficult to source, while South America couldn’t quite work out what it was producing!

We now have so much choice
Now though, the wine industry, and particularly the choice available in the UK, is booming! The choice from Europe has grown massively with new wines from old areas, but also increased competition arriving from the east, with Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary and Bulgarian wines improving immensely. Particularly at The Vineyard we have seen a dramatic increase in Austrian wines with Gruner Veltliner and Blaufrankisch being of great excitement. Germany has seen a massive increase as their style of wines has become more commonly bone dry in style, with the sharp zesty citrus fruit appeal that works beautifully with Oriental influenced sashimi style seafood.
As for the New World… well we certainly weren’t seeing as many wines from China, Japan and India on our wine lists as we do now! New Zealand has moved on, to produce top quality Central Otago Pinot Noirs and Gimblett Gravel Cab blends. South Africa now offers some of the best value and most interesting wines around, especially from the burgeoning Swartland District, then we come to California…

How California has changed
It is quite easily apparent the huge steps that have been taken to not only improve quality but also value for money. Cooler areas like Sonoma coast, Monterey and the hillsides above and around Napa instead of the valley floor are providing some excellent examples of varietal wine making. Meanwhile a touch of delicate acidity from this mountain fruit has added balance to many of the hottest Cabernet blends around.

Of course, the best way to notice these changes and improvements is to taste it yourself, so why not join us for our Californian Wine Weekend on 14th and 15th March. There’s something for everyone. So whether you’re wanting to try as many wonderful Californian wines as you can, or are looking for a really special evening where you’ll have the rare opportunity to try some of the Peter Michael Winery best and highly sought after wines, you won’t be disappointed. Discover more – www.the-vineyard.co.uk/CalifornianWineWeekend.asp

What I’m really looking forward to is the Les Pavots vertical tasting at 4.30pm on 15th March where you’ll get the chance to try some of the more recent vintages. Be sure to sign up soon as I know this will be the most popular of them all.

Cheers

Alan

Best of Britsh – February 2014

pinkster gin Best of Britsh – February 2014

This month we introduce:  Pinkster Gin

Pinkster gin is said to be ‘agreeably British gin’ and is a mix of 5 carefully selected botanicals at the Thames distillery in London. Stephen Marsh, the gins founder then takes the gin and infuses the spirit with fresh raspberries which gives this gin its distinctive pink colour and fresh taste.

Stephen stumbled upon this recipe and his love for gin after finding out he had developed an allergy to yeast which meant he could no longer enjoy his vast wine cellar so he turned from grape to grain and fell in love with gin.

We love our gin here at The Vineyard just as much as Stephen and Pinkster fits perfectly into our selection. The raspberries give it a slight sweetness, but the heavy juniper notes of the original spirit help to retain a dry and distinctive gin character that works well in both cocktails and mixed with tonic.

We have twisted two very classic cocktails with this gin; The Cosmopolitan and The Martini, and our team have also created a ‘Perfect Serve’ gin & tonic that you can find on page 10 of our Bar List.

Pinkster is the perfect gin to enjoy in the springtime with and we hope you enjoy it as much as us.

Pink Cosmo
Pinkster gin shaken with lime, Cointreau and cranberry juice

Rhubarb Martini
Pinkster gin stirred with Chase rhubarb liqueur

Perfect Serve
Pinkster gin with Fever-tree Mediterranean, juniper berries and a twist of lemon

Cheers

David Coveney
Head Barman