March Events in Berkshire

tumblr mv8b936eut1rveocqo5 1280 March Events in BerkshireFriday 14th March 2014 – An Audience with Nicholas Parsons at Watermill Theatre – 2pm

Join the famous Radio 4 presenter for an afternoon of entertainment. Funny, enjoyable and a real treat, this is not to be missed. Nicholas Parsons takes his audience on a humorous and nostalgic journey through the memorabilia of his long and eventful life. Seeing the funny side of every situation, he highlights with superb and often hilarious observation those events that have shaped his career. His comic timing and accurate observation creates a cast of characters that make this a wonderful afternoon of comedy, which has his audience entertained and laughing throughout. Join Nicholas afterwards in the bar for tea and cake.

Ticket prices £30 per person

For further details please visit www.watermill.org.uk

Friday 14th March – Peter Michael Winery Dinner at The Vineyard– 7pm

Join The Vineyard, the Michael family and Hugh Johnson, wine writer and expert, for the Peter Michael Winery Dinner where you will have the rare opportunity to try the latest and back vintages of Peter Michael wines perfectly matched with a five course dinner. View menu and discover more

Wine dinner – £120 per person or a table of 10 is £960
Saturday tasting ticket – £30 per person

Please call us on 01635 589453 to book

Saturday 15th March – Californian Wine Tasting at The Vineyard – 11am to 5pm

On Saturday 15th March, we are hosting a wine tasting of over 50 Californian wines. Come and meet the winemakers, join us for wine masterclasses throughout the day and discover more about Californian wine.

Please call us on 01635 589453 to book

Saturday 15th March – Meet the Wineries Dinner at The Vineyard – 7pm

Enjoy a five course discovery dinner where five of California’s well known wineries will host the evening along with James Hocking, Vineyard Cellars’ Director of Wine, showcase their favourite wines and give you an insight into why their wineries keep ahead of the vinous world. View menu and discover more
£95 per person

Please call us on 01635 589453 to book

Wednesday 19th March – HG2 Homegrown at The Corn Exchange – 7.45pm

Children, young people and professional dancers come together in an evening of dance that spans the breadth of talent in Newbury and surrounding areas. It has been three years since the first production of HOMEGROWN in 2011 celebrating the wealth of dance talent from here in West Berkshire. Since then we have continued to have a thriving community for dance and more young dancers have trained, graduated and are now professional dancers in their own right and so it is time for HG2 to celebrate these achievements and see the dancers of today, tomorrow and the years to come.

Tickets £10 (concessions £7)

For more information please visit www.cornexchangenew.com

Saturday 29th March – Elke Brooks at The Corn Exchange, Newbury – 7.45pm

Performing some of her classic hits, blues and jazz, an electric evening with Elkie Brooks is guaranteed to leave you begging for more. Quite simply one of the most successful and popular singers the UK has ever produced and still proving to be one of the most powerful and versatile vocal talents of our generation. With numerous hit singles, million selling albums and awards, her annual tours are a treat for fans old and new.
Tickets prices £25 per person

For more information please visit www.cornexchangenew.com

Sunday 30th March – Mother’s Day at The Vineyard

Sunday Lunch – 12pm to 2pm
Treat your Mum on her special day and enjoy a three course lunch with a glass of Champagne. All Mums will receive an exclusive Red Grape spa gift to enjoy at home.
£50 per person

Afternoon Tea – 3pm to 5.30pm
Enjoy a delicious Afternoon Tea with carefully created cakes, warm scones and finger sandwiches with your choice of tea or coffee. View sample menu
£22.50 per person

Please call us on 01635 528770 to book

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

Tonic’s “I Do” Nutrition Pod

WeddingShoes 1 Tonic’s “I Do” Nutrition Pod

Blog by Anneliese Setchell – www.tonichealthboutique.com

Every bride wants to look and feel like a million dollars on their wedding day. But having to cope with mounting to-do lists, engagement drinks, hen celebrations, choosing the wedding breakfast menu and drink tastings can often lead to stress eating and eating on the run which can take their toll.

Anneliese Setchell, owner of Tonic Health Boutique in Hungerford, has developed a unique nutrition plan called the “I Do” pod to ensure you look and feel fabulous on your wedding day, leaving you to focus on planning the big event!

While many brides focus on reaching their target weight for their wedding day, the “I Do” pod also ensures they are energized, radiant and calm. They can look forward to having beautiful skin with no hint of bloating or puffiness as well as strong nails and shiny hair.

Nutrition plans and bespoke recommendations

The “I Do” Pod includes a 30-day cleanse to whip the body into shape and help you reach or maintain your goal weight with a nutrition plan written by Anneliese that has meal suggestions, beauty foods and a shopping list. Bespoke supplement recommendations help to combat specific health concerns such as constipation, skin problems, hormone imbalances, stress and poor sleep. A post-wedding strategy will help you avoid regaining the weight you have worked hard to lose and you’ll also receive a 45-minute telephone consultation with Anneliese that will create a bespoke plan that suits you.

The plan helps you with all kinds of mild digestive disorders which can compromise a radiant complexion and a flat tummy. It also helps with weight loss and to balance blood sugar levels so that you’re on top form throughout the busy pre-wedding period when you are likely to be flat out trying to combine a job with planning the biggest day of your life.

Combating sleepless nights and reducing stress levels

Beauty sleep is vital and will keep you feeling and looking calm and collected. Many brides suffer from sleepless nights as they are unable to switch off and so putting a good sleep strategy into place can work wonders. There is also help at hand to reduce those damaging stress-induced hormones steering you away from burn-out and the overwhelming pressure of the mounting to-do list.

Anneliese adds: “This unique package provides the necessary support to help you become the beautiful, radiant and calm bride you deserve to be. It enables you to reach the aisle without feeling worn out, full of cold and a few pounds heavier than you had planned.

“Don’t forget it doesn’t end on the day itself, as the plan will also enable you proudly unveil your bikini body for the honeymoon!”

Anneliese will be at The Vineyard Wedding Fair on Sunday 2nd March so pop over and say hello.

 

 

Wedding Flowers – Choosing a Florist

Countryside Summer Wedding 043 Wedding Flowers   Choosing a Florist Blog by Karen at Allium Design
Photographs by www.kat-hill.com
After you have said ‘I will’… you and your beloved will walk an exciting path of joint decisions for usually several months until you can happily say ‘I do’.. It’s an exciting time and one of the most inspiring parts should be choosing flowers, finishing touches and small details to enhance your day, things that personalise and represent you as a couple.

I love my job, sharing flora, styling thoughts and ideas with my brides and grooms-to-be, but it’s an interesting economy with tighter budgets, and my clients want the day of their dreams at the right price.

946533 562944670418686 313252742 n 300x199 Wedding Flowers   Choosing a FloristSpolit for choice
Of course flower availability has changed dramatically, so many more flowers are available for longer growing periods. Blooms are bread to be more robust and florists can suggest flowers that we wouldn’t have dreamed of, even just a few years ago. We really are spoilt for choice and there is always something perfect for every colour scheme.
You’ll get lots of great ideas by looking on the internet and in wedding magazines. Couples usually come to see me once they have chosen their venue and often ‘the’ dress as they both play a large part in the style of the wedding.

A bouquet to remember
For me, flowers are all about the scent, something to evoke a memory of a wonderful day for years to come… A bride’s bouquet should be something that ‘wows’ her, something she will look at, love and always remember. Garden flower choices are as popular as ever for the coming season. Imagine a posy of rambling roses with bobbing scabious, scented sweet peas and a sprinkle of herbs with garden foliage, understated, yet elegant, bound in vintage lace, easy to carry and a joy to photograph for a summer wedding.

Countryside Summer Wedding 058 300x199 Wedding Flowers   Choosing a FloristPlan and ask questions
Start your flower planning twelve months before the wedding date, especially if you are holding a Saturday celebration, as good florists are booked up well in advance. Always see at least two florists and go to your meeting prepared with a list of questions about their services and ask see samples of their work. Also ask the following questions:

  • How many weddings do they cover in one day?
  • What do they charge for delivery on the day?
  • Have they worked at your venue in the past?

Go with the quote that ‘gets you’
At this initial meeting you will look at colour options and favourite flowers, talk about your day and your vision. This is often a learning process with your florist; who should steer you in the right direction and work with your budget. Once you have found the one that ‘gets you’, to quote one of my brides from last year, it’s often a style of work and an experienced, friendly one that will give you confidence.

Countryside Summer Wedding 065 300x225 Wedding Flowers   Choosing a FloristWhat to expect
There will be other meetings as the wedding gets closer, a venue visit, a church visit and always a final meeting a few weeks before the day to make sure everything is in place. On the day, your florist will deliver bridal flowers to you and your bridesmaids. If it is a church wedding, that will usually be decorated the day before, as will a private venue. Open venues will always have other clients to consider so access is usually on the day only.

The Vineyard Wedding Fair – 2nd March
Allium Design will be at The Vineyard Wedding Fair on Sunday 2nd March chatting about flowers all day, so please come along and say hello with your flora questions and I’ll be happy to give as much advice and guidance as I can on how to enjoy your flower planning

Discover more about The Vineyard Wedding Fair – www.the-vineyard.co.uk/weddingfair.asp

I look forward to seeing you on Sunday 2nd March.

Karen
Allium Design
www.alliumdesign.co.uk

 

Chile – One of the most exciting wine producing countries

tumblr mwbblh9Y6z1rveocqo1 1280 Chile   One of the most exciting wine producing countries

At the moment, I think that Chile is one of the best and most exciting wine producing countries. Despite the fact it being a “New World” wine country, Chile is in fact fairly old as vines were first planted in 1548 by Spanish colon, Brother Fransisco de Carabantes.

The first grape variety planted was Mission (known as Pais in Chile). The name refers to the Catholic missions where they were generally grown and the wine had, as a main purpose, to be served during the masses. Another exciting fact about this country is that it remains Phylloxera free, meaning that some of the vineyards are 100 or more years old.

Because of the length of the country, vineyards were planted mainly nearby where people were living, close to the big cities. The problem was that most of the vineyards were planted in the wrong place. The tendency is changing and wineries are nowadays looking more into the different terroirs and where the different grapes would best been grown to show all their potential.

The main grape varieties you are likely to find are Sauvignon Blanc; usually producing wines of great freshness and flavours, but without being as vegetal or herbaceous as the cousin from New Zealand. Chardonnays also are magnificent and tend to develop more tropical aromas such as lychee and coconut. Riesling is also found and gives good results.

In term of red wines, the very local Carmenere is a great example of Chile’s wine identity. Carmenere used to be grown in Bordeaux during the 17th to 18th Century, but is not really used any longer. This grape variety has a very long history as Carmenere and Merlot used to be planted together in the same vineyard, however, winemakers didn’t know that. In fact you could have bought a bottle of red wine labeled as being a Merlot and find 90% of this grape.

It wasn’t before 1994 that Carmenere was really discovered as a grape and was split from Merlot vineyard to be produced on its own. Then, in 1998, the Chilean Department of Agriculture officially recognised Carmenere as a distinct grape variety. Alongside this fantastic variety, you will find the more classic Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah which are all, given the right conditions, producing wines of great character.

If you are interested in discovering more about this beautiful country, I would be glad to welcome you to our Casa Lapostolle Wine Dinner taking place on Friday 28th February. View menu and more details

Casa Lapostolle is owned by the Lapostolle-Marnier family of Grand Marnier and was established in 1994. Since then, its notoriety has never stopped to grow and it is nowadays regarded as one of the best winery.

Discover more

Romain Bourger
Head Sommelier

What’s on in Berkshire this February

rosesandsuitcase facebook Whats on in Berkshire this February

Valentine’s Dinner – Throughout February

Start with a chilled glass of Taittinger Rosé Champagne before creating your very own tasting menu. – we’ll help you match the perfect wines to match each course. To finish, enjoy a glass of Schramsberg Rosé sparkling wine. There will be a special menu to choose from on 14th February. View current menu

£120 per person
Please call us on 01635 528770 to book or book online

Snowdrops Walk at Welford Park

Thursday 30th January to Sunday 2nd March
This breathtaking sight is enjoyed by thousands of visitors throughout the winter months. Over many years and generations, it has been tradition to open the grounds during February so that this wonderful spectacle can be viewed by all who want to see it. After a bracing walk many retire to the Old Laundry Tea Rooms to partake of a light lunch or homemade cake and a pot of tea and take a wander around the Snowdrops Gift Shop.

For further details see www.welfordpark.co.uk. Open Wednesday to Sunday from 11am-4pm and the car park closes at 5.30pm. Adults £6, Concessions £5, Children 4-16yrs £1, Children under 4 go free

Wine School at The Vineyard – From Sancerre to Muscadet

Wednesday 5th February – 6.30pm to 8pm
Join us for a journey down the picturesque Loire Valley as we taste wine from the central vineyards to the Loire Atlantique. View more wine schools
£30 per person
£55 per person including a two course dinner and matching wines

Please call us on 01635 589407 to book

The Devil and the Deep Blue Sea at The Watermill Theatre

Friday 31st January to Saturday 15th February
It’s the roaring ’20s and five stowaways set sail from England to the USA – the land of opportunities, the land where dreams come true, rags can turn to riches and romance is in the air. Join us on a musical journey across the ocean in this compilation cabaret featuring the infectious music of the period from a company that includes some favourite Watermill actor-musicians. With songs including Ain’t Misbehavin’, Making Whoopee and Night and Day, this scorching collection of intoxicating numbers will warm your heart.

Performance Time – Monday to Saturday at 7.30pm,Thursday and Saturday matinees at 2.30pm, Saturday 15 February performances at 1.30pm and 6.30pm For further details see www.watermill.org.uk. Tickets prices start from £15.

Valentine Wolf Walk at The Wolf Conservation Trust

Saturday 15th February from 10am to 12.30pm
Spend your special day at the Trust in the company of our wolves. You will join two of the wolves as they walk around the fields at the Trust. There will be photographic opportunities whilst on the walk, also a gift for your partner on the day. Booking is essential.

Ticket price is £85 for 2 people. For further details, please visit www.ukwolf.org

Live Broadcast of War Horse at The Corn Exchange

Thursday 27th February 2014 at 7pm
The National Theatre’s original stage production of War Horse, broadcast live from London’s West End. Since its first performance at the National Theatre in 2007, War Horse has become an international smash hit, capturing the imagination of four million people around the world.
Based on Michael Morpurgo’s novel and adapted for the stage by Nick Stafford, War Horse takes audiences on an extraordinary journey from the fields of rural Devon to the trenches of First World War France. Filled with stirring music and songs, this powerfully moving and imaginative drama is a show of phenomenal inventiveness. At its heart are astonishing life-size puppets by South Africa’s Handspring Puppet Company, who bring breathing, galloping, charging horses to thrilling life on stage.

For further details see www.cornexchangenew.com. Tickets – Full Price £14, Concessions £12.

An Evening with Casa Lapostolle of Chile

Friday 28th February – 7pm arrival for 7.30pm
Lapostolle has an objective is to create world-class wines using French expertise and the superb terroirs of Chile. And today, Lapostolle owns 370 hectares in three different vineyards and produces a total of 200,000 cases spread over Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Carmenère and Syrah. Discover more

5 course dinner with matching wines
£95 per person

Please call us on 01635 589407 to book

Detox this January

Spa image treatment compressed Detox this January

After indulging over the Christmas period many of us look to undo this with what is termed as de-toxing. The simple truth of the matter is that the body is very good at de-toxing itself and many of our organs, such as the liver and kidneys, have this as part of their role. Even the skin has a role in detoxing through the sweating process. What we can do for an easy de-tox is to aid the body in what it does naturally. Here are some great tips to help you do this:

Drink 1.5 litres of water a day
Water is great not only for hydrating the skin, but also helps the body to flush out toxins. Take care not to drink excessive amounts of water as this can also cause the body harm.

Reduce alcohol consumption or have a tee total period
Pure alcohol is a toxin to the body, and yes while there has been some research saying alcohol can have some health benefits, it still needs to be broken down by the liver, which means that other normal processes that the liver undertakes may be slowed down such as processing fat, eliminating waste and metabolising carbohydrates.

Undertake regular exercise
This can be anything from walking, jogging and dancing round the room to music. Basically anything that gets your heart rate up and makes you feel a little warm, and even better a little sweaty. The heart pumping faster increases the circulation improving the movement of toxins to the liver and kidneys for their removal. Sweat carries toxins out of the body and flushes them through the pores.  The sauna and steam room is also a good way of doing this, but exercise is still better due to other health benefits . It’s always a good idea to make sure you check with your doctor before starting any kind of exercise programme.

Eat a wide variety of foods and cut out the junk food
This doesn’t mean go on a diet, but just give your body a wide variety of nutrients from a range of food. Many vitamins and minerals are needed by your body to work efficiently, and this includes those organs involved in the de-tox process such as the liver.

If you want that pampering experience mixed with the feel good factor of doing something to de-tox, here are some treatments we recommend.

  • Darphin Slim and Detox Treatment  – 1hr 25 mins
  • Darphin Personalised Refining Body Polish – 55 mins
  • Red Grape Pampering Body Wrap – 55mins
  • Detoxifying Algae Wrap – 55mins
  • Full Body Massage –  55 mins
  • VitaMan De-Stress Back Treatment – 55 mins

Please visit our website for full details of our treatments.

Half Spa Day Offer
Enjoy a morning or afternoon spa day for two in January or February 2014 for the total price of £120, saving £20 on the normal price*.

Your half day spa day includes:

  • a 25 minute treatment of your choice
  • a light Bento box lunch and refreshments
  • full use of our spa facilities for half a day.

Just £120 for two people

Discover more on our website

Kirsty Hughes
Spa Manager
The Vineyard
www.the-vineyard.co.uk

What’s on in Berkshire this January

whiskey on the rocks Whats on in Berkshire this January

Wednesday 15th Jan – Jump Racing at The Racecourse Newbury

10.30 to 4.30pm
The Racecourse Newbury’s first raceday of 2014 and a great way to start the year with a card of exciting Jump racing in store. Enjoy some of the finest raceday hospitality with a Private Box or excellent food and drink in our panoramic restaurants, The Racegoers or The Hennessy Restaurant. Tickets from £14 to £24

See website for more details and to purchase tickets 

Wednesday 15th Jan – Whisky Masterclass – What’s your Favourite Dram?

6.30pm to 8pm
Whether it’s Irish, malt or rye, join us for a whisky masterclass and enjoy tasting whiskies from around the world. Learn more about how they vary in character and the best way to appreciate them. £30 per person

See our website for more details on our wine schools and masterclasses
Please call Ami Williams on 01635 589407 to reserve your place

Saturday 25th Jan – Burn’s Night with Glenmorangie

7pm arrival for 7.30pm
Join us in celebrating the life of Robert Burns starting with whisky cocktails on arrival and a reading from our Glenmorangie host followed by a wee dram to toast the haggis and four course dinner with matching whiskies & wines. £95 per person See menu

Please call Ami Williams on 01635 589407 to reserve your place

Fri 31st Jan to Sat 15th Feb  – Devil & The Deep Blue Sea at Watermill Theatre

A musical compiled by Simon Slater and directed by Simon Slater. It’s the roaring ’20s and five stowaways set sail from England to the USA – the land of opportunities, the land where dreams come true, rags can turn to riches and romance is in the air. Join us on a musical journey across the ocean in this compilation cabaret featuring the infectious music of the period from a company that includes some favourite Watermill actor-musicians. With songs including Ain’t Misbehavin’, Making Whoopee and Night and Day, this scorching collection of intoxicating numbers will warm your heart. Tickets from £15.

See the website for performance times and more information
To purchase tickets call 01635 46044 or email – boxoffice@watermill.org.uk

My Trip to Bordeaux

Bordeaux blog My Trip to BordeauxI had the great opportunity to travel to Bordeaux for the first time this year, at the end of October. I think most of us have this idea of Bordeaux wines being expensive and with reason; most of the wines we see on wine list are, but are mainly Grand Cru Classe (Great Growth) and they only represent less than 5% of the total production in Bordeaux.

The goal of this wonderful trip was for us to discover smaller and lesser known areas of this fabulous wine region as such as Saint Emilion satellites (like Montagne Saint Emilion, Saint Georges Saint Emilion…)

It started with a course at the Bordeaux Wine School for a tutorial covering history, geography, the different varietals and the Controlled Appellation areas.This followed with a walking tour of this amazing city; and a lunch at a local restaurant with a tasting of dry white wine made from Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon.

We then drove to Chateau Le Grand Verdus (Bordeaux AC) for a visit and tasting. A beautiful, family owned estate producing exceptional wines around £10.00, their Grande Reserve (best cuvee) is around £15.00. After this interesting discovery we went to Cadillac to an estate owned by a Lebanese family, Chateau Biac. We started with a presentation of the Cotes de Bordeaux AC followed by a sweet wine presentation.

We later went to their cellar and to dinner. Starting with an aperitif and canapés (the highlight being a toast of peanut and dried apricot) on their terrace with a view on the Garonne river and a beautiful sunset. At the dinner we had the chance to taste some incredible wines as well as some lovely food mixing French and Lebanese cuisine.

The next day, we drove to Pomerol to visit one of the greatest estates of the area, Chateau Gazin (one of the first top Bordeaux wines I tasted was Chateau Gazin 1988) where we tasted 2005 and 2011 vintages. We also had the opportunity to see some of the best Chateau like Petrus and Lafleur Petrus.

On the way to Saint Emilion we also saw Evangile, Cheval Blanc, Figeac and Angelus before arriving at Chateau La Couspaude where another surprising tasting awaited us. After a very good lunch there and a quick, but wet visit of Saint Emilion we left for one of its satellites, Puisseguin Saint Emilion.

We arrived at a 55 hectares organic estate called Chateau Guibeau where again the quality was impressive and yet again the prices of wines were around £10 to £12. The rest of the day was spent in Pessac-Leognan, in the Graves region (named after the very gravelly soil of the vineyard) at Chateau La Louviere, property of Andre Lurton. The visit started with a little explanation of the Chateau followed by a tour of the winery and the impressive cellar. We moved to a great tasting showcasing about 20 different dry white and red wines with a fantastic dinner later (where we tasted a Chateau La Louviere white from 1994, incredible!).

For the last day we drove up to Chateau la Lagune, in the Medoc district were again we drove past Latour, Pichon Comtesse de Lalande and Margaux to arrive to this beautiful old Chateau. There we again tasted about 10 different red wines from several areas. We enjoyed our best lunch of the stay there cooked by a great young Chef, she specially cooked Joel Robuchon’s special mash potatoes, just delicious!

After four amazing days in this fantastic area, we had the chance to visit and taste a great panel of wines normally ranging between £5.00 to £15.00 and really understand that Bordeaux is not only about expensive Great Growth, but that small, less known estates or region doesn’t mean less in term of quality, I think it means the complete opposite. The smaller estates are fighting to produce amazing wines that worth knowing and should be drunk. This trip was fantastic and I look forward to go back very soon!

Romain Bourger
Head Sommelier