All posts by The Vineyard

Ch. Monbousquet: Icon Wine Of The Week

As September begins, thoughts turn to winter woolies, warm fires,  and warming spices. This week we have chosen a wine to suit. Complex, smoky and earthy, 2000 Ch. Monbousquet is our icon wine of the week.Head Sommelier

This week’s Icon wine is a beautiful, countrified St. Emilion called Ch. Monbousquet. This wine estate has a magnificent private park, recently acquired and renovated by Gerard Perse. The vineyards are primarily planted with Merlot, as well as substantial Cabernet Franc and some Cabernet Sauvignon.

The 2000 vintage is a dramatic, full fruited wine of breadth and depth, richly perfumed with complex nuances of smoke and earth. This wine compares favourably with the wines of both Cheval Blanc and Ausone, but at one-fifth of their price.

This is a full bodied, powerful wine with dense layers of ripe black fruits, spices, mocha and firm tannins. It shows off a sexy, black cherry fruit centre overlaid with tantalizing camphor and smoke. Each component stands tall, but lays on top of one another in such an interconnected and harmonious fashion that it makes you want to swoon. The texture is deceptively silky and light in the face of such pronounced smokiness and solid rich fruit. The wine is drinking perfectly right now but has decades of lifetime ahead of it.

Alter Ego De Palmer – First Growth Quality

Every weekend we choose an ‘Icon’ wine, a superlative wine that we think is exceptional, to offer by the glass in our restaurant. This weekend, we chose Ch. Palmer’s Alter Ego de Palmer, the second wine from this esteemed Bordeaux winery. Here, Romain Bourger, our Head Somelier tells us more.

2008 Alter Ego de Palmer is a nuanced expression of the Ch. Palmer terroir, two interpretations of the variations offered by climatic conditions of the vintage.

Palmer’s 2008 Grand Vin was superb and, quite honestly, this, their second wine, is not far behind. Produced from younger vines at the famous Palmer estate, this Merlot-dominated blend (52 percent Merlot and 48 percent Cabernet Sauvignon) blend displays all the characteristics of the first wine and demonstrates the superb terroir which Palmer has.

There is a lovely depth of fruit and spice on the palate with fabulous concentration and focus with a wonderfully long finish. With a nose of blackberry, pencil lead and crushed black pepper it has real complexity and interest. On the palate it shows incredible balance and richness with fabulous texture and length. Offering intense, crispy and juicy fruits, Alter Ego is a spontaneous uninhibited wine, soft and round as soon as it has finished its 18 months of barrel ageing. Its lush aromas and supple tannins make it a wine that can be truly appreciated.

This wine would work wonderfully with our lamb and beef dishes. If you fancy a taste of the first growth quality of the Grand Vin but at a third of the price, than the 2008 Alter Ego is for you!

Peter Michael Wine: An Auspicious Meeting

Every bottle of Peter Michael Wine bears the six word credo: ‘Mountain Vineyards, Classical Winemaking, Limited Production’. Learn what happened the last time Robert Parker, acclaimed wine critic, met owner Sir Peter Michael in London.

Peter Michael Wine

It is no secret that wine critic Robert Parker has been a fan of Peter Michael Winery bottles from quite some time.

While Mr. Parker has visited winery regularly to taste new releases, Sir Peter had actually never met him as their visits simply never coincided. This changed when the critic brought his ‘World Tour’ to London last February. As part of the event, Sir Peter had the pleasure of attending the ‘Gala Hedonist’s Dinner’ at the Michelin Two-Star restaurant ‘The Ledbury’ in Notting Hill. There, he and ‘Bob’ finally got to shake hands and share a pleasant chat.

The soiree included a sumptuous menu prepared by The Ledbury’s chef Brett Graham and paired with rare wines, all of which had received perfect scores from Mr. Parker. Sir Peter was particularly proud that two of the nine wines served were his own. 2012 Cuvee Indigene was served alongside Scottish langoustine wrapped in shitake, with mandarin orange and ginger. 2010 Ma Danseuse was paired with aged pigeon with rhubarb, beetroot and olives. Delicious.

Afternoon Tea: A Very British Tradition

Today marks the start of Afternoon Tea week. Rebecca Galland, Restaurant Manager at The Vineyard, takes us back in time to the origins of this most delicious British tradition.

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon Tea

Afternoon tea all started with Anna, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, in the early 1800’s who coined the phrase of having the ‘sinking feeling’ which was how she felt in the middle of the afternoon when breakfast had been worked off.

At that time there were only two meals a day one in the morning and one in the evening. Dinner was served later and later in the day. To remedy her feeling, Anna started having tea, usually Darjeeling, and a cake in her boudoir in the afternoon. She enjoyed it so much that she began to invite her friends to join her at her country house Woburn Abbey where she and her husband Francis Russell, 7th Duke of Bedford, lived in the Summer. Eventually when the season ended and she returned to London she the continued this habit in the city. More and more people started to hear of it in her social circle and in the 1840’s Afternoon Tea quickly became fashion amongst the wealthy classes.

It is worth noting that this ‘Afternoon Tea’ that Anna started is not to be confused with what is known as ‘high’ tea which usually refers to the meal the lower classes would have, complete with a hot dish, followed by cakes and bread, which was all about the height of the tables.

Nowadays, Afternoon Tea is usually served on a stand and it led to a phenomenon that has swept the globe, albeit still a very British tradition.

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.