Tag Archives: Vineyard at Stockcross

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!

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.

Fresh, delicious, seasonal asparagus

Locally-sourced and seasonal produce is absolutely our aim, with 90 percent or more of our foodstuffs hailing from Britain, and local farmers very much being our main suppliers. Executive Chef Daniel Galmiche has ‘picked’ the star vegetable of the moment- asparagus.

Asparagus

May heralds asparagus season

Late spring is harvest time for asparagus, both green and white – a mere seven or eight week season – and the best is whatever you can buy locally. You can often get hold of it throughout the year, but as ever I like to get seasonal, locally sourced produce, not only because it truly does taste better.

Green asparagus has more of an intense nutty flavour than white varieties and really works well with creamier sauces, such as hollandaise. I like to keep the flavours simple so you can appreciate the freshness and flavour of this wonderful vegetable.

Preparation is key and often it will naturally snap between your fingers at just the right place – to do this, when you cut it, hold a spear from both ends and bend.

When you cook asparagus, remove the bundle from the pan and plunge it into ice cold water. This helps to keep the chlorophyll (and therefore the goodness and colour) locked in.

Depending on how it is prepared, this vegetable is best served with a lovely glass of medium-bodied Sauvignon Blanc, such as white Graves when served simply, or white Burgundy when served with Hollandaise sauce. Currently we have a number of asparagus dishes available at The Vineyard.

And…when the asparagus season is over, leeks make a great alternative!

Get your body Summer-ready

Our experienced head therapist Kirsty Hughes imparts her wisdom and suggests some do-it-yourself treatments to help you get ready for the sunny season. Here is the first of three excerpts from her over the forthcoming three weeks – just in time for the longest day of the year!

Summer Ready

With the shops starting to optimistically display barbecues at this time of year, and the British Summer calendar around the corner (cricket, Henley, Wimbledon, Ascot and Glyndebourne to name a few), the social summer season is almost here. Happily, we can look to wear summer dresses, sandals and pretty shawls. With our feet and skin about to be on show, it’s time to get our body-best for the summer. Here are some top tips to slip into your routine and soon it will be second nature.

Perhaps the least cared-for part of the body over the colder months are the feet. They deserve pampering; after all, they do serve us very well! It is so easy to care for them, too. Just set aside some you-time and follow the tips below.

Pumice stones gently remove hard areas, and nightly moisturising (pop some socks on after to keep the moisture in) helps to soften skin and get rid of any super-dry patches.
Mavala’s Hydro-Repairing Foot Cream (£12) is ideal to resolve dry or cracked skin.

Our toes’ cuticles need attention too, and caring for them straight after a shower or bath is best, because they are soft and can be pushed back easily. For more stubborn cuticles you can use Mavala Cuticle remover (£11).

Summery nail colours on toes really add a touch of glamour. I always apply a base coat to stop colour staining and help the colour apply evenly to your nail. Two coats of colour varnish and then a top coat seals the colour in to extend its life. Reapply every few days to prolong the life of the paint. Sit back and relax as it takes around 45 minutes for the paint to become rock solid.

If all this sound like too much effort then treat yourself to a Deluxe Pedicure (£50 for 55 minutes) and let us do the hard work. Your feet will be exfoliated, nails shaped, cuticle work, massage, a paraffin mask and last of all a paint. Your shoulders also get treated with a heated body wrap to ensure you have a relaxing time.

Top 5 Chilled Red Wines

 

Top 5 Chilled Red Wines by Yohann Jousselin, Head Sommelier

I believe that chilling some types of red wines can help the wine to perform better in all of its elements. As a result of cooling a light red wine, the fruit’s aromas often rise in intensity and the alcohol feels slightly milder.

Below is a selection of wines from our restaurant wine list that I would definitely suggest to cool down beforehand in order to enjoy them in their full capacity – especially if the weather stays this warm for another few days…

1. Chinon, Desbourdes, L’Arpentry, Loire Valley, France, 2007 (£37)
Made from Cabernet Franc, this wine shows an intense panel of stony fruits as well as a hint of black pepper.

2. Weingut Dr Heger, Q Sonett, Spatburgunder (Pinot Noir), Baden, Germany, 2008 (£62)
A very light, fresh and delicate wine with lovely notes of red berries.

3. Moric, Blaufrankisch, Burgenland, Austria, 2010 (£44)
Made from a local grape variety, this wine offers some ripe summer fruits aromas.

4. Fleurie, Domaine de la Madone, Beaujolais, France, 2010 (£34)
A very good example of Gamay from the southern part of Burgundy , this wine shows a very juicy palate and some soft tannin.

5. Ma Maison, Pinot Noir, Martinborough, New Zealand, 2010 (£39)
From a cooler climate area of New Zealand, this Pinot Noir is aromatic and fresh with notes of red fruits.

I hope you get time to enjoy some of these wines, but if you prefer to be served in ’Taste’, our new informal dining space, come and see us at The Vineyard!

– By Yohann Jousselin MS

Up and Coming Events in September 2012

Saturday 8th September – Ascot Food and Wine Festival

If you’re planning a visit to the Ascot races, this weekend is the ideal one to go. The Ascot Food and Wine Festival offers visitors a day filled with races, food demonstrations, numerous stalls with local products, and of course, wine tastings. Renowned Chef Valentine Warner as seen on BBC2 and ITV, will be at the racecourse throughout the day, doing demonstrations such as ‘Trout with Chanterelles and Artichokes’. Moreover, the Shop ‘n Drop service allows you to buy products at the stands throughout the day, and pick them up at the end of the event so as to avoid carrying around your wares all day. For more information, click here.

Monday 10th September – Ladies Lunch – Life as a Race Horse Trainer

Richard Philips, who was an assistant trainer to Henry Candy, set up in his own right almost twenty years ago and has been extremely successful on the flat and over jumps during this time. He is acquainted with a great many influential characters in the racing world, and will be speaking about the life, encounters and experiences of a trainer. The lunch is £60 per person, and can be booked by calling 01635 528770.

Monday 10th September – Ladies Wine Club: Wine and Fashion, How Does it Work?

Wine, women and Yohann. If that sounds like a good time, then we’d strongly recommend you join our Ladies Wine Club. Ideal for those who enjoy wine and would like to learn more about it in a friendly and informal atmosphere, this is also a great way to meet other like-minded ladies.
3pm-5pm. £30 per person. Please call 01635 528770 to reserve your place.

15th & 16th September – Royal County of Berkshire Show 2012

Undoubtedly one of the largest events in the County of Berkshire, one can see everything from chickens to llamas, horse driving to pig-showings. Some of Britain’s best foods will be available at numerous stands, complete with cookery demonstrations and tastings. Impressive performances in show jumping and the great spectacle of Livestock Grand Parade finally round up the day. Celebrate some of the proudest agriculture the countryside has to offer! For more information or to purchase advance tickets, visit their website.

Saturday 22nd September – Dubai Duty Free International & Party in the Paddock with Lionel Richie

Global superstar Lionel Richie will bring the Dubai Duty Free International Weekend to a close with a live Party in the Paddock concert following the last race. With seven races including three group races this raceday promises to be a cracker! For tickets and more information, click here

Friday 28th September – Piedmont Wine Dinner at The Vineyard

This month at The Vineyard, we celebrate Piedmont, one of the most renowned wine regions of Italy where wine quality hits a unique high. Join us for a fabulous evening of food and wine pairing featuring two of the best local Piedmont winery estates: Poderi Colla with its famous Barolo ‘Dardi le Rose’ and Marchesi di Gresy will present its exquisite Barbaresco called ‘Martinenga’. We will be joined by Master Sommelier, Nigel Wilkinson, will guide us through the wines during this unforgettable evening.

Tickets are at £95 per person and can be booked by calling 01635 528770.
Please click here for a preview of the menu.

Recipe: Raspberry Clafoutis

Traditionally, a clafoutis is made with cherries, but the summer brings an abundance of fruit – tender apricots, juicy plums, fat cherries and wild blackberries, all warm from the sun begging to be eaten. However my favourite is raspberry! The sweetness of the berries and the zing of the lime zest send your taste buds twirling!

  • Preparation time 35 minutes
  • Cooking time 25 minutes
  • 250 – 280g/9 – 10 oz/2 – 2 ¼  cups firm raspberries
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 125g/4 ½ oz/ ½ cup caster sugar
  • 50g/2oz butter, half softened and half melted
  • 85g/3oz/ 2/3 cup of plain flour
  • A pinch of salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 300ml/10 ½ fl oz/ 1 ¼ cups full fat milk

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Put the raspberries, lime zest and 2 tablespoons of the sugar in the bowl. Mix gently, then set aside to macerate for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, grease a 24 x 16 x 6cm/9 ½ x 6 1/4 x 2 ½ in a baking dish or clafoutis dish (an oval earthenware dish) with the softened butter and sprinkle with another 3 tablespoons of sugar. Carefully shake the sugar around the dish to make sure it coats the inside.

Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg, egg yolk and remaining sugar, then slowly add the mixture to the flour and mix until incorporated and smooth. Slowly add the milk, stirring until the batter has the consistency of a crêpe batter, then add the melted butter and mix until combined.

Put the raspberries in the clafoutis dish and mix to release the juices. Pour the batter over the raspberries and bake in the preheated oven for 25 minutes until golden brown and set. A tip of a sharp knife inserted into the centre should come out clean and dry. Remove from the oven and serve.

CHEFS TIP: It is also fun to make this dessert in individual 150l/5fl oz/ 2/3 cup ramekin dishes, just reduce the cooking time to 10-12 minutes.

Enjoy!

Daniel Galmiche
Executive Chef at The Vineyard

James Hocking: A Chevalier of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne

On Monday 9th July, I was invited to London to be “inducted” into a rather special “club”. This being the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne. Whilst those of you who know me will be wondering why I’m doing something non-Californian (!), our connections with Champagne at The Vineyard are immense, encompassing Champagne Taittinger, Champagne Gremillet, and a raft of others.

The role of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne is to promote the wines of Champagne, their unique features, their ways of consumption and everything which contributes to their reputation and their image as the most prestigious symbol of success and celebration. Its mission is to contribute to the dissemination of essential information concerning the wines of Champagne by creating and motivating a network of staunch supporters (professional restaurateurs, sommeliers, connoisseurs and personalities from the world of politics, media, stage and screen), most notably through Champagne-led events throughout the world.

Around 1650 young aristocrats at the court of Louis the XIVth, amongst whom were Mortemart, Ollonne, Brousse and the satirist Saint-Evremont, founded an elegant academy dedicated to good wines. They were all famous wine connoisseurs and were particularly fond of the champagne wines from the three “coteaux” (hillsides) Ay, Avenay and Hautvillers. Hence the name given to this association “Ordre des Coteaux”. It disappeared shortly before the revolution.

In 1956 a group of “champenois” led by Roger Gaucher and Francois Tatittinger in particular, who did the historical research, decided to revive the original “Ordre des Coteaux”.

At the dinner, which followed the intronisation ceremony, jeroboams and magnums of Champagnes Deutz, Drappierand Taittinger were served to accompany the food. I felt proud to have been asked to join the Ordre (in the rank of Chevalier), and am looking forward to assisting further with the promotion of what must be the world’s ultimate celebration wine…

First picture –  James Hocking, Director of Wine at The Vineyard Group and Justin Llewelyn – UK, Ireland & Channel islands Ambassador, Champagne Taittinger and Consul General, Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne.

Californian sparkling wine offer and free delivery: Enjoy 10% off one of our new arrivals – Schramsberg Blanc de Blanc 08, until 31st August 2012 and take advantage of free delivery when you spend over £150. Please quote ‘blanc08‘ at checkout. Visit The Vineyard Cellars website now.

James Hocking

Director of Wine
The Vineyard Cellars
The Vineyard

Up and Coming Events in July 2012

Friday 22nd June to Saturday 28th July – Ben-Hur at the Watermill Theatre
The Watermill is overawed to present an unbelievably spectacular and never-before seen stage version of the novel by General ‘Lew’ Wallace. Almost certainly the greatest book ever penned… Experts say no book has ever been so widely read…  Find out more

Friday 6th to Sunday 15th July – Newbury Comedy Festival at the Corn Exchange
Just three days left to see some fantastic top name comedians and some of the latest talent at Newbury’s Comedy Festival 2012 (6th – 15th July). Find out more

Saturday 14th July – Newbury Summer Festival – Weatherbys Super Sprint at Newbury Racecourse
The Weatherbys Super Sprint is one of the major races for two year olds of the entire flat racing season. Some of the country’s quickest horses will race at blistering pace over the shortest racing distance of 5 furlongs. The high class supporting races include the Group 3 Shadwell Stakes and the Listed Shadwell Beech House Stud Stakes. Find out more 

Monday 16th July Ladies Lunch – Maurice Blik – The Vineyard 
Join artist Maurice Blik for an interesting and insightful talk on his past experiences, work in sculpture and in particular the commission of the ‘At First Light’ bronze statue by Sir Peter Michael in 1997. This statue proudly stands within the grounds of nearby Donnington Valley Golf Club and was aptly named ‘At First Light’ because it was specifically designed for a site, which catches the first light of dawn. £60 per person. Find out more

Friday 20th July – Cheese, Wine and Spa Evening with Darphin – The Vineyard 6.30pm – Enjoy a selection of artisan cheeses and wines and learn more about food and wine pairing from Yohann Jousselin MS. 7.15pm– Interactive Darphin Skin Secrets talk. 8pm – Taster treatments in the spa including mini hand and head massages. Enjoy your goodie bag filled with Darphin product samples and Vineyard chocolates. Just £15 pp. Please call 01635 589415 to book.

Sunday 22nd July – Newbury Waterways Festival at Kennet and Avon Canal
The Newbury branch of the Kennet and Avon Canal Trust proudly organises the Newbury Waterways Festival which this year will be on Sunday 22nd July. Boats will start gathering from Friday 20th July for the event which takes place in Victoria Park and at The Wharf. Find out more

Monday 23rd July – Foundation Wine School – Blind Wine Tasting – The Vineyard – 6pm-8pm
Discover the art of blind wine tasting with Head Sommelier Yohann Jousselin MS. £25 per person. Find out more

Monday 23rd July – Ladies Wine Club, Winemaker event – Domaine Laroche –  The Vineyard – 3pm-5pm
Join Yohann and other like-minded ladies for the second Ladies Wine Club event. Domaine Laroche is one of the best producers of Chablis and has wineries in South Africa, Chile and in the south of France. £30 per person. Call 01635 528770 to book and discover more.

Wednesday 25th July – Advanced Wine School – Blind Wine Tasting – The Vineyard – 6pm-8pm
Have fun tasting wines blind with Head Sommelier, Yohann Jousselin MS. £30 per person. Find out more

Saturday 28th July – Kipling’s Just so stories at The Corn Exchange
Critically acclaimed, award winning Newbury Youth Theatre perform their brand new adaptation of Rudyard Kipling’s Just so stories. Adapted and directed by Amy and Tony Trigwell-Jones and devised by the company, this year’s production marks a return to these much-loved fables, having produced their first version of the Just so stories in 2007. Find out more