Tag Archives: News at 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.

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.

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.

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.

The Vineyard - Exterior

What’s on in West Berkshire this June

Half term is all but over, and we now look forward to the long, hopefully sunny, period of Summer. With the 21st of the month marking the longest day of the year, whether you’re planning to celebrate Summer Solstice at Stonehenge or not, here are a few ideas to make the most of the daylight hours this June.


Wine School – Argentina and Beef

Wednesday 3rd June – 630 to 8pm
Argentina has probably seen the biggest growth area in the world of fine wine in recent years. It is with the current excitement around steakhouses in the restaurant world that the noble Malbec grape has found to be one of the perfect matches to bef. We will explore the range of wines that Argentina produces, featuring Malbec as their pinnacle of achievement. Daniel Galmiche will also prepare a couple of beef cuts for us to pair to the wines being opened.
Read more


Beale Park Boat & Outdoor Show 2015

Friday 5th to Sunday 7th June
Thinking of trying – or buying – a boat? Or do you just enjoy being on or around the water? Then look no further…a family day out with lots to do and see around the lake. There are even activities taking place in the lake!! Outdoor pursuits, live jazz, boat rides for young and old alike and so much more……
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Evening Falconry Experience

Tuesday 9th June
Join expert falconer Ray Prior and learn about his birds of prey then practise your skills. You will learn all about how his birds fly and hunt and are brilliantly adapted for their individual habitats. There will be plenty of time to practice your newly acquired falconry skills and knowledge and, of course, some wonderful photo opportunities.
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Father’s Day Lunch

Sunday 21st June
Gather the family and treat Dad by celebrating at The Vineyard for a delicious three-course lunch this Father’s Day in our elegant restaurant. Excellent service, a fantastic wine list and a relaxing ambience will help you spend a memorable day with the important people in your life.
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Guided Walks of Newbury

21st June
Did you know that Newbury dates back to Mesolithic times after which it was formally founded in 11th Century following the Norman Conquest. To find out more about the secrets and little known facts about this historic town and its royal connections. Stretch the legs and take some fresh air after a delicious luncheon with your family, why not combine your Father’s day meal at The Vineyard with a one hour walk around historic Newbury with all the family. A local historian will talk you through the secrets and little known facts about this historic town.
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Music for a Summer’s Evening

27th June
In the height of summer, what better than spending a beautiful summer’s evening outside listening to great music, picnicking on the lawn. This is possible at Shaw House where you can explore the building and grounds. And fantasic value at £7.50 for adults and children under 16 £2.50.
Gates open at 6pm, the concert will commence at 7.30pm
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Events in Berkshire this May

Events in Berkshire this MayNewbury Open Studios 2015

2nd to 25th May

Set up in 1988, Newbury Open Studios is up and running for two weeks again this May. It is an ideal opportunity for you to visit the studios of the regions most prominent artists, see their latest works, talk to them about their processes and generally get your creative juices flowing.

Kick off the event with the flagship exhibition at the complimentary New Greenham Arts exhibition which features works from 115 artists, including 17 new artists. From glass to silk painting, jewellery to painting and drawing, the festival runs the gamut of artistic talent.

For more information, we recommend you visit the website.

Californian Wine School at The Vineyard

6th May

California wine is our specialist subject, and this event in perfect timing as our latest shipment will be on the water from the 2015 Spring releases. Join us for a vinous trip around Napa, Sonoma & Mendocino Counties, plus a trip down South to Arroyo Grande. We are a bit biased but it is one of the best events in Berkshire this May! We will explore the classic grape varieties and compare hillside and coastal fruit. Many of the wines being opened will be totally new and exclusive to The Vineyard which we are excited about.
£30 per person

Discover more about our wine schools.

Wolf Keeper Experience

7th May

Take advantage of this unique one-day experience to get up close and personal with wolves, including the new Arctic wolves.

On 7th May, the UK Wolf Conservation Trust has arranged for members of the public to learn more about these beautiful creatures. You will be able to help with aspects of care, shadow the keepers, see behind the scenes into the everyday life of wolves and their keepers, and see how the trainers encourage natural foraging behaviours. It is certainly one of the most unusual events in Berkshire this May. There will be plenty of opportunity for photographs, as well as added bonus of watching resident birds of prey such as kestrels, buzzards and kites.

For more information, we recommend you visit the website.

Peter Michael Winery Dinner

8th May

Hosted by Sir Peter Michael and family, we welcome you to the annual Peter Michael Winery dinner where you will be treated to five course dinner matched with exquisite wines from the Peter Michael Winery. Five course dinner with matching wines.

£120 per person

View menu.

Newbury Spring Festival

9th to 23rd May

Guaranteed to be the biggest and best yet, for two weeks from 9th May to 23rd May, the annual Newbury Spring Festival is taking place around the various prestigious local venues. One of the UK’s most prestigious Arts festivals, this year showcases international talent from all areas of the artistic spectrum: music, theatre, dance, literature and cabaret. Sopecifically, the large programme of work is aimed at young people and families, including the young stars award.

For more information, we recommend you visit the website.

Annual Pelican charity Golf Day

13th May

Held at the Donnington Valley Hotel and Golf Course, this annual event on 13th May is sure to be a fantastic day of sporting fun, followed by a delicious three course gourmet lunch. After a delicious breakfast of bacon baps, the starting gun is at 9am, and is all for the worthy cause of Pelican Cancer Foundation, driving innovation and development in bowel (colorectal), bladder, prostate and liver cancer treatment.

For more information, we recommend you visit the website or email events@pelicancancer.org

Award-nominated music in Newbury this May

14th May

The breathtaking and wickedly inventive music of Paul Hutchinson and Paul Sartin comes to Acespace in Newbury this 14th May. Playing like no-one else, the two have been nominated for Best Duo in the Radio 2 Folk Awards. Who else can you think of who are equally at home on 6 Radio (Cerys Matthews) and Radio 3 (In Tune). £10 in advance, £12 on the door, this is a great value evening, not to be missed.

We recommend you email events@acespace.org.uk or visit the website for more details.

Highclere Game and Country Fair

24th to 25th May

Set in the picturesque surrounds of the Highclere Castle, for 20 years Highclere Game and Country Fair has provided one of the UK’s finest showcases of country life. From 24th to 25th May, with world-class championship hunting and shooting events as well as the Highclere food festival, there’s something to suit all tastes, from competitive field sportsmen to those who want to relax.
Plus, for those new to country sports, you will find expert tuition and advice on how to get involved. The Highclere Game and Country Fair is also a great family day out, with live music and children’s entertainment too.

For more information, we recommend you email info@countrymanfairs.co.uk or visit the website.

Bucklebury Bushcraft and Barbecue

25th May

Set in a stunning 77-acre site, Bucklebury Farm Park has a host of attractions including deer park, farm animals, indoor play, pedal go-cart track, tractor rides, refreshments, adventure playground, a wild walk, Be a Farmer Club and den building. Join in this May Bank Holiday for some free bushcraft activities and a barbecue for a great value day out that will appeal to the whole family, school groups, senior citizens’ clubs, or just a couple of friends.

For more information, we recommend you email info@buckleburyfarmpark.co.uk or visit the website.

Californian Wine Weekend – 8th to 9th May 2015

Californian wine weekendWell, we are getting ever closer to our Californian Wine Weekend on 8th and 9th May this year so I guess I should start to announce some of our visitors from across the water and the wines they will be showing…

At dinner, featuring Peter Michael Winery, we will be opening for the first time the 2013 L’Apres-Midi Sauvignon Blanc, a beautiful Sauvignon Blanc-based wine with a touch of Semillon added. Think white Bordeaux…but VERY good white Bordeaux. It goes without saying that the Les Pavots will be opened along with some of the family’s Pinot Noir. It promises to be a good night! View the menu with matching wines

At our Saturday tasting, these wines will be again open to taste, but joined with many others from our range of Californian bottles. Taste over 50 Californian wines that will be open to taste and purchase for just £30 per person. Maryann Bautovitch will be flying in from Talley Estate and pouring their Arroyo Grande Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. Brent Shortridge, owner of our best sellers Waterstone, Mandolin and Amala Springs arrives on the same day and will be showcasing his entire range from the delicate Mandolin Riesling, to the deep, dense Waterstone Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Joe Donelan joins us for the first time this year and will showcase some of the finest Syrah to emerge from the US, plus a beautiful Viogner from Sonoma County. Masterclasses will be in progress throughout the day to help you get the most out of every taste…

And if you’re really lucky, I might just open a bottle of Peter Michael Chardonnay…!

Discover more about the Californian Wine Weekend.


James Hocking
Director of Wine
The Vineyard Cellars

Create your very own Easter nest

Chocolate - 580 x 288With Easter just around the corner, impress your friends and create your very own Easter nest by following our Head Pastry Chef, Anthony Millon’s step by step instructions and recipes.


Chocolate mousse

Ingredients: 100g dark chocolate, 1 egg yolk, 200g soft whipped cream

Method: Melt the chocolate (slightly warmer than luke warm, but do not boil or burn), add the yolk to the chocolate, and mix and add cream to the chocolate and yolk .

Honey cream

Ingredients: 25g honey, 25g sugar, 75g double cream, 100g soft whipped cream.

Method: Use a pan and bring the honey and sugar to the caramel stage on the stove once the sugar starts to colour and you have a strong honey smell stop cooking. Heat the double cream in a microwave or on the stove until warm. Add this to the honey and sugar and leave until cold. Use a large pan to do so as this is likely to double in size. Leave to go cold. Once cold, add the soft-whipped cream through, and place into a piping bag with a star nozzle.

Rhubarb compote/purée

Cook the rhubarb with sugar until soft, and use as compote. Or alternatively once cool, blend and pass through a sieve to make a purée.

Step by step instructions

image1Crack the eggs two thirds of the way along, take the egg yolks and whites out and put the shells to one side.




image4Wash the shells and leave them to dry.




Easter nest -image 1Left: Raw Rhubarb, peeled.

Right: Strawberries, lime juice, crème fraîche and sugar
Mix these together

Crushed chocolate eggs


New Picture (42).jpgTop: Vanilla Ice Cream, Strawberry, add the mixed strawberries with lime juice, crème fraîche and sugar.

Bottom: A spoonful of mixed berries; blackberries and raspberries


New Picture (43)Top: Add chocolate mousse, pipe use a piping bag with a star nozzle.

Middle: Add crushed bits of meringue on top of the strawberry mix.

Bottom: Add rhubarb purée

New Picture (44)Top: Add decorations eg. crushed mini eggs and edible flowers

Middle: Drizzle raspberry coulis over the top of the meringue.

Bottom: Add the honey cream, pipe using a piping bag with a star nozzle.

New Picture (45)Bottom: Once the honey cream has been added, add the raw rhubarb (peeled) on top.




New Picture (47)Place in a cardboard egg container; add straw and extra chocolate eggs.



I hope you enjoy making these Easter nests and have a very happy Easter. Enjoy afternoon tea over the Easter holidays for just £25 per person.

Happy Cooking!

Anthony Millon
Head Pastry Chef at The Vineyard