Fresh and in season: Peas

We only buy what is in season at the time, to be as close to the natural environment as possible. Peas are in season between June and July. Executive Chef Daniel Galmiche advises how best to enjoy them.

Peas

In-Season Peas

I always look forward to the change of seasons and how that is reflected on our plates, especially when it comes to side dishes and salads. Each season brings its own special selection of vegetables. The fresh, the earthy, the tender, the robust and the sweet, there is always something delicious and new to enjoy.

Peas are one such vegetable that add a wealth of flavour and texture and are available June to end of July. Whether steamed, sautéed, roasted, baked or grilled, the possibilities are endless and the bonus of growing them yourself is that you gain all of the flavour. Lightly blanched really retains their texture and are wonderful to eat alone.

Peas are best when not prepared with too much fuss. Lightly blanched or boiling briefly and they can be added to stews and risottos or pasta.

Or – peas and pancetta, what a wonderful combination. Indeed, fresh peas are really versatile and so much tastier fresh from the garden and used in more innovative ways.

For wine matching, a fresh Loire Sauvignon Blanc can go well with creamy pea risotto, whereas a more exuberant herbaceous Marlborough version can go well with a heavier pasta. For a pea salad, a not-too-leesy Picpoul or Albariño would work well too – the clean and neutral notes would enhance the delicate pea flavours…bon appetit!

Vine and Grapes at our Spa

Vine and grapes possess exceptional powers to heal and rejuvenate the body, which inspires our signature wine-themed Red Grape treatments and products. Combined with our treatments and health giving spa, this is a winning combination.

Red Grape

Our Red Grape Beauty Products

The health benefits of wine and grapes have long been mooted. Cultivated on all of the earth’s continents except Antarctica, these little fruits contain many phytonutrients, which often classifies them as a ‘superfood’. Abundant in the raw fruit, much of this goodness including reservatrol has been found to remain throughout the wine making process and as such imparting some of this health giving property to the end product, red wine in particular.

This science inspired our own signature Red Grape beauty products: a body mask, moisturising cream. Made by the Natural Spa Factory, they are fragrant with sun-ripened fruit, a fitting tribute to the hotel’s theme.

We really believe in the healing power of massage both mentally and physically, and we combined our Red Grape products into out signature treatments. One such signature treatment is the 55-minute Red Grape Body Pampering Wrap, continuing the hotel’s wine theme. This starts with soft body brushing to help eliminate toxins from the lymphatic system, followed by a red grape body mask and a tension-releasing head massage. To culminate the experience, a moisturising treatment promotes soft, silky smooth skin.

And if that isn’t enough, the soothing benefits of hydrotherapy is well documented, and our award-winning boutique spa offers this. Fittingly commended ‘Five Bubbles’ – the highest rating – by the prestigious Good Spa Guide the emphasis on exclusivity with its own show-stopping feature in the glass roof. Our guests can stargaze from the elegant surroundings of the luxurious circular heated indoor swimming pool and relax in the warmth and health giving features of the Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. Bliss!

Behind the scenes with our General Manager

Running a five-star retreat like The Vineyard requires excellence and dedication. Marwan Hemchaoui, General Manager, gives a little insight into what this operation entails and why wine is so important to us.

We have around 140 staff working at The Vineyard – that’s three staff to every guest so that we can provide the best possible service to each and every one. We pride ourselves on offering award-winning or world-class service in each category (whether food, wine, spa or accommodation) and for this we require excellent, positive and experienced teams.

We have an absolutely fantastic team at the hotel, all of whom are very passionate about the service they provide and whom are proud to work here. Truly, working well together is like an art and all of them – in each facility of food, wine, service, the spa and our room – dance together well!

Of course we are very passionate about wine at this hotel, our heritage being steeped in the vines of California. Not many people know that we also grow grapes in Sonoma county – Peter Michael Winery was set up by our owner Sir Peter Michael – and the ethos of the Californian lifestyle is in everything we do.

With that, I often get asked what my favourite wine is. With so many good wines available, I find it a difficult question to answer. It depends on the time of day, if with food, and the season. It is a pleasure to sample a new producer, grape or style, because I think winemaking is a real art with many creations to enjoy. I am especially fond of L’Esprit Des Pavots from Peter Michael Winery. But, to me, wine is a socialising thing and I believe that the company and atmosphere truly make a good wine great.

Fine rosé from the heart of Provence

Our wine list features benchmark rosés from the Old World, including celebrated Ch. D’Esclans from Provence, the ‘finest rosés on the planet’, according to Matthew Jukes. It is time to take rosé wine increasingly seriously. Here we learn a little more.

Historically, rosés were seen as fun, unsophisticated and the great addition to a girls’ night out. Fast forward a few years and premium rosé is one of the fastest growing categories. This is thanks in part to a host of Old World stalwart producers crafting some serious bottles, with the notoriety to raise them on to the big stage.

Pink, blush or rosé wine – whatever your preferred name- is now seen as a serious industry, and as Jancis Robinson attests, this is thanks in part to the efforts of Sacha Lichine and his team at Château d’Esclans who have set the bar and raised ambition among producers.

In the heart of Provence, Lichine and his compatriot Patrick Leon (previously winemaker and managing director at Mouton Rothschild) purposely tried to craft a world class winery that made the world’s best rosé – and it is widely believed that they succeeded.

Indeed, according to Matthew Jukes, Ch. D’Esclans from Côtes de Provence produce among the finest rosés on the planet. We’re inclined to agree – so much so that we’ve chosen to offer three wines from this infamous château on our wine list (which, we are very proud to say, just won European Hotel Wine List of the Year).

Made using Old Vine Grenache, as this high altitude site is known for, the vines are hand picked and blended with Vermentino. Top cuvées are aged in oak – and are capable of ageing. Generally, good rosé is not heavy or overtly sweet but fresh, dry and offers a complex aroma of herbs, fruits and a balanced acidity. These bottlings offer all this and more.

One thing has remained true throughout – these wines are ideal served chilled outside with, or without, food in the summer sun.

Introducing The Modern Tea Ceremony

This July, we will introduce new luxury teas to our Afternoon Tea experience from Lalani & Co. Far removed from the ‘English Cuppa’, more like a fine wine or whisky, their batch teas come from family-run gardens throughout the world and are chosen for their exquisite flavour from particular elevations. This is the first in a new series on artisanal tea.

Lalani Teas

Lalani Teas

Buying tea is very much like buying whisky: some are blended and some are single-batch. Also like whisky, you get various qualities and styles, and this all comes down to the people who grow the plants as well as the plantation’s location.

The pleasure comes in the taste and there is a gulf of difference between PG tips and single batch darjeeling or oolong for example. Season, soil, elevation and producer all affect flavour characteristics and the best teas express the best flavour of their region: some batches will be exceptional, some will be average, some will be low end. This spectrum occurs even within a year on the same garden.

The very best single batch teas are made as a luxury craft with the same artisan skill as a family vineyard or a small whisky distillery. Single batch teas also offer seasonally changing flavour profiles, much as with fine wine, offering expression of their terroir which whispers its provenance story to you palate with every sip.

Throught the world’s tea trade, most batches are sold into the markets and blended, but some will be kept as single batch teas. These are normally the better tasting batches and are what will be used here.

When you taste a batch and know the story behind it, it opens up a whole new enjoyment and understanding of tea and flavour.

Sweet, fresh and in-season raspberries

A superfood, with many antioxidants and flavonols, raspberries play a part in many dishes and are in season from now. Whilst naturally sweet, they have a low sugar concentration and have a strong flavour profile so an interesting match for many foods. So says Daniel Galmiche.

Raspberries are in season now

Raspberries are in season now

With all of the delicious desserts and patisseries available from my homeland, there is still something irresistible and also wholesome about choosing juicy raspberries for pudding. Nature’s sweetener, they’re very versatile and are strong enough to be the stand-out or to match the strength and richness of creamy dishes or dark chocolate flavours. The best is to choose fresh berries so ripely-picked that they make your lips and teeth pink.

A fantastic match for lime, where the sweetness of the berries complements the zing of lime zest, the colour of this fruit is also very appetizing. They are also sensational with a crème brûlée as raspberry, despite being naturally sweet, this fruit also has a high acidity and complements perfectly the richness of such dishes.

And of course with summer sun, perfect excuse for a raspberry-embellished aperitif, such as demi-sec Champagne with a dash of raspberry puree or a single berry. And in terms of matching with wine, on their own raspberries go well with a sweet Loire or German wine. How about Côteaux du Layon?

In season now until September, you will be lucky if you have a raspberry bush at home in your garden or allotment. They are so easy to grow and just a few raspberry plants will reward you with plenty of fruit from midsummer until mid-autumn.

 

We travel to Peter Michael Winery in California

In 1982, Sir Peter Michael, owner of The Vineyard, travelled 6,000 miles, from London to Sonoma, on a mission that took him from extraordinary success in the high-tech world to a risky startup in the wine business. The winery in Knights Valley, Sonoma County, has gone from strength to strength, and  Nicolas Morlet, the winemaker, tells us more about how the last two vintages 2012 and 2013 have fared.
Peter Michael Winery in Summer

While mountain vineyards, classical winemaking and limited production are the longstanding themes at Peter Michael Winery, the growing seasons and harvest conditions do change. This makes the winemaking process ever more exciting.

For the 2012 vintage. winter and spring were wet and cold, slightly delaying bud break, flowering and fruit set. The bloom occurred in ideal weather. The climate throughout the summer was picture perfect: temperate with only moderate heat spikes. A long Indian summer of mild temperatures and sunny days was an important factor in the ripening process. Yields for the 2012 harvest were slightly higher than average for all varietals. The vintage gave us beautiful, clean, healthy grape clusters across all varietals, appellations and vineyards resulting in wines of depth and elegance and outstanding ageing potential.

For the 2013 vintage, the growing season began with a dry spring and mild temperatures similar to the previous vintage. In the first part of May, two days of violent winds damaged our Chardonnay vineyards. This resulted in uneven bloom and set, despite the otherwise ideal weather conditions. The vineyard crew carefully re-pruned the vines and executed multiple passes of green harvest. The already small crop was further reduced to one cluster per shoot, bringing the vines back into balance and ensuring the quality of the harvest. From veraison through picking, the vines enjoyed ideal ripening conditions. A long Indian summer allowed the fruit to reach perfect maturity and contributed to the exceptional quality of this small vintage.

Head Sommelier

Head Sommelier, Romain Bourger

Passion for wine has led to a fantastic career for Romain Bourger. For the past two years, he has held position of Head Sommelier at The Vineyard in Stockcross, which has been his home for five years. Things are going from strength to strength.

Head Sommelier

When did your passion for wine begin?

It all began when I started studying at hospitality school in my hometown in North-Eastern France. We were taught the basics about wine, such as vine training, fermentation and the growing season. This really piqued my interest and during my second year we started to talk more about the different appellations and grape varieties which was, for me, more interesting. I was very inspired by my teacher, Mr. Jean Pierre Lorrain, who had worked in various top hotels in France and always used to tell us stories from his time working in restaurants (whether it was a wine he served during a dinner with the French President or a memory he had from his youth which was linked to a particular vineyard or region).

When and where did you train to become a sommelier?

My passion was ignited and I wanted to take an extra year to learn more about wine. From 2007 to 2008, I took a more intensive class to learn more about wine in general as well as studies on other beverages – including non-alcoholic ones!

What is the most expensive wine that you have served at The Vineyard and where is it from? 

There have been a few in the five years that I have worked here, but the most memorable was a bottle of RomanéeConti, one of Burgundy’s finest and most expensive producers. Specifically, the wonderful 2007 Grand Cru Domaine de la RomanéeConti, ordered for a special occasion. I won’t disclose the price but let’s just say they had a good time!

Which bottle of wine in the cellar would you most like to drink and why?

There are plenty of delicious bottles in our cellar to tempt me so it is a hard choice! Right now, I’d choose La Tache Grand Cru Domaine de la RomanéeConti, the 1995 vintage. A good growing year in Burgundy, this Pinot Noir has such a delicate harmony between power and elegance, a velvety texture and complexity that it would definitely be my choice.

What is the best part of working at The Vineyard in terms of your passion for wine?

It is so rewarding to help our guests discover more about their wine preferences, whether it be through our wines schools, at a convivial dinner or an informal tasting. Being able to suggest wines to pair with their dish selection or to help them choose a special bottle, either classic or unusual, and be part of their experience is what I love.

 

The seasonal wonders of mackerel, tuna and crab

Fish plays a big part on our menu and sustainable line-caught or certified organic fish, including hand-dived scallops is something we are committed to and believe in strongly. Here, Executive Chef Daniel Galmiche highlights  the wonders of mackerel, tuna and crab and their wine pairing, all in-season now.

The sustainability of fish is a big issue these days and is very important that I find the right suppliers who will provide the best possible fish that is also sourced from sustainable stocks. It is too easy to forget that most species are overfished and therefore becoming expensive, as well as increasingly rare.

The beautiful mackerel with its black and blue stripes, full of omega-3 fatty acids and packed with goodness is delicious grilled, smoked, pan-roasted, whole or in fillet form. Lime works with the flavour of the fish really well. Depending on how it is served, medium-bodied crisp whites such as Muscadet, Gavi di Gavi or Picpoul de Pinet work very well with this fish.

I also adore tuna, especially blue fin tuna which is incredibly rare. I source yellow-fin or skipjack tuna instead. I love tuna raw, pan-fried or marinated and it is delicious also in a Niçoise salad. This fish works well with rich full-bodied whites such as Australian Chardonnay, or light-bodied reds such as a New Zealand Pinot Noir.

Crab is now in season and when selecting crab meat to buy, as with every fish, it is so important to buy fresh, quality produce from a good source. Crabs should look undamaged and feel heavy for their size. Again this works well with aromatic medium-dry whites such as South African Chenin Blanc or crisp dry whites such as unoaked Chardonnay.

Get Summer-ready: care for your face

The summer sun is a true tonic but caring for our face is often low down on our priority list. Our head therapist Kirsty Hughes reveals the best ways to care for your face and protect for a lifetime of beautiful complexion.

Get your face ready for Summer

Ready for Summer

A sun-kissed face truly makes everyone feel better and brighter. But a good complexion for the long-term takes a little care and attention, especially when the onslaught of wrinkles and age spots are preventable or can be minimised.

We are now all aware of the effects of sun damage, but even the most cautious of us sometimes forget. Truthfully, protecting your face is the best way to stop premature ageing as damaging UV rays are present even on a cloudy day.

Most foundations and some creams contain an SPF of at least 15 which is sufficient if we will only be having brief exposure to the sun or in winter. When spending most of the day in the sun it is better to use a higher SPF, preferably one formulated for the face. Carry a sunscreen with you so you are never caught out and burn.

As much as everyone likes a tan we really urge that it is better to use a high SPF and use a bronzer to bring colour to your face. While a tan may look good for a few days those wrinkles are going to be around for a lot longer.

Happily, Darphin have just launched Soleil Plaisir available in SPF30 or SPF50 £29. Darphin uses the exotic oils Karanja and Coconut oil combined with Hyaluronic acid and avocado butter to create a melting non-greasy texture in a non–whitening base that cares for your skin.

As the seasons change, so does our skin and products that suited us before no longer seem to. If you feel like your skin doesn’t look or feel like you want it to, please come in and see us as we will be happy to give you some adviceonhow to keep it glowing. A good thing to do is have a facial as this can often be what the skin needs: an intense boost of nourishment and some extra care.