Tag Archives: The Vineyard Cellars

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.

 

What to drink this spring

What to drink this springSpring is here! OK, the weather may be a little variable at the moment, but things are definitely warming up and this certainly affects my seasonal wine selections. Read on for my recommendations on what to drink this spring.

Historically, March and April see the gamut of new wine and vintage releases throughout the vinous word. Many wine trade fairs are hosted around the country, with producers across the globe visiting the UK and showcasing their latest releases. So, what am I drinking at the moment…?

I always have a soft spot for Italy at this time of year, and have picked up a beautiful new Greco di Tufo from Feudi di San Gregorio, based down in Campania, Southern Italy (RRP £15.52). Lovely almond nose with a touch of white peach and honeysuckle flavours. I added their red wine Rubrato, made from the Aglianico grape (RRP £14.10) at the same time wanting that lovely balance of high acidity and low tannin. With a charcuterie board, either of these will be stunning. The whole concept of wine and food pairing is second nature in Italy…it’s just a concept that works!

wine glasses with rose wineLeaving Italy for a second, Germany and the classic grape of the region Riesling starts to come into fashion at this time of year, with Koester Wolf Riesling Kabinett (RRP £8.75) being consumed by the gallon chez Hocking, loaded with all that crisp lemon/lime zesty flavour and suitable for the spiciest of dishes. Also look out on our wine lists for the most exciting rosé wine I’ve tasted in years and on the water now – it’s from Austria and called Umathum. Every household should open this whilst the BBQ is getting up to temperature!

We have an Italian wine school coming up at The Vineyard on 8th April where you’ll be able to try some fantastic wines from all the great wine producing regions. We’ll also go into detail about how to match these delicious wines with food. Discover more

Cheers

James Hocking
Director of wine

Third Annual Wine Festival

A round up of last weeks wine festival. A fantastic event we hope you all enjoyed it as much as we did!

vineyardcellars:

The Third Annual Wine Festival – Positive Post Mortem!

The bottles have been consumed, the glasses washed and returned, and many satisfied customers are now awaiting their purchases to be delivered. I guess from any angle, the wine festival can be adjudged a success…

On Saturday 27th October, around 150 guests arrived at The Vineyard to taste their way through upwards of 100 wines. In actuality, the exuberance of the suppliers (myself included) meant that just short of 160 wines were opened. There really was just about every style from every wine producing country represented. Whilst I missed the first hour (presenting an on-air wine tasting to BBC Radio Berkshire’s Henry Kelly a.k.a. “Going For Gold”), the day really came into full swing in the afternoon, with a crowded room of enthusiastic critics. It was a good day.

Difficult to pin down individual successes now I’ve analysed what sold and what didn’t, but the New World probably came out on top in terms of bottles taken home, although France claimed the fizz sales with some great Champagnes being opened. South Africa did well in both red and white, and our organic/biodynamic supplier sold many bottles of unfiltered, unsulphured cloudy stuff which I was delighted about. Sometimes organic wines seem not quite as “polished” as their more sterile counterparts, but the taste sensation is almost always better.

Masterclasses were held throughout the day covering such topics as glassware, dinner party wines and how to taste wine professionally. Yohann was kept busy throughout the day answering anything and everything about wine and Daniel produced really quite stunning charcuterie and cheese plates.

Finally, as a true testament to the spirit of the day and the ardent will of our guests, the spittoons remained largely unused…

It was fun. We’ll do it again in 2013. See you there

James Hocking

Director of Wine
The Vineyard Cellars