Tag Archives: Wine Festival

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.

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.

Another Successful Wine Festival Weekend

Masterclass_1 - compressed 1

Bottles in a row - WFW14 - compressedI know I may well say this every year, but this year’s wine festival at The Vineyard seemed to surpass all previous years in terms of just about everything…food, wine, and many masterclasses aimed at helping our customers get the very best out of a bottle of wine. Our suppliers stepped up to the mark and provided a selection of truly stunning wines really indicative of our list at The Vineyard.

First off was our annual wine festival dinner. Two matched wines per course hence groaning tables of wine glasses (all Riedel of course) ready to showcase the bottles. Hard to pinpoint specifics, however feedback that I received thought that the Grüner Veltliner Steinsetz (Schloss Gobelsburg) was the star white of the evening, whilst the Mac Forbes Pinot Noir from Australia and the venison course was the pairing of the evening. The Peter Michael L’Esprit des Pavots held its ground with the cheese course also, even up against Tawny Port! To buy these wines, please contact me, James Hocking, on 01635 589414 or email me: jameshocking@vineyardcellars.com

Following that, our Saturday tasting was well-subscribed, and with an ever expanding Wine tasting 1 - compressedgroup of suppliers, the room was full of wine. Newcomers to our tasting this year were Berkmann Wines, with a decent range of Italian and Argentinean bottles, plus Clark Foyster Wines, showing a solid range from Australia, France and Portugal. We had over 150 wines open, covering all the major viticultural regions of the world. All together, 10 of our top wine suppliers helped make this event a success.

And the wine, I most wanted to take home? Champagne Taittinger kindly gave us a couple of bottles of their flagship Comtes de Champagne Blanc de Blancs. Pure hedonistic pleasure…frankly the customers were lucky to get a look in!!

We actually have a Taittinger Champagne dinner coming up on 5th December and there are still a few places left. Please see our website for the menu and more details. It’s sure to be a great evening. Our sparkling bubbles galore wine school is also taking place on 3rd December. We hope to see you at one of our up and coming events.

We also welcomed WSET who were talking to all our guests about our popular level 1 course, but also our new intensive level 2 course, which we’re running for the first time from 6th to 8th February.


James Hocking
Director of Wine

Events in Berkshire this November

Newbury racecourse photo

Spectacular Fireworks Display at Newbury Racecourse
Saturday 1st November – 5.30pm
Newbury Racecourse will be hosting a charity fireworks display this Saturday joined by Roary the Lion and friends. There will also be other entertainment taking place during the evening.

Tickets are available from a number of shops around Newbury & Thatcham.

Under fives are free. Children and Adults £5 on the night of the display. Save and buy your tickets in advance.

Gates open at 5.30pm and the fireworks start at 7.30pm.

For further details on where to buy tickets or about the display visit their website 

Wine School – All about US Wines
Wednesday 5th November – 6.30pm to 8pm
When we think of wine from the US, California often springs to mind, but there are many other states who produce good quality wine. Let us take you on a journey across America tasting many different styles of US wine from New York, Oregon, Georgia and Washington.

£30 per person

Discover more

Twelfth Night at The Watermill Theatre
Wednesday 12th to 15th November – 7.30pm (6.30pm on 15th)
One of the events in Berkshire this November that’s definitely worth attending. The Young Company is delighted to present Shakespeare’s most famous comedy celebrating love and life in all its excesses and absurdity. Anarchy and music abound in this, the most complicated of love triangles.

Tickets – £11

Please see the website to purchase tickets and for more details

The Vineyard Wine Festival Weekend
14th November – Wine Festival Dinner – £120 per person
7pm arrival for 7.30pm
We begin the Wine Festival Weekend with a fantastic five course dinner matched with two superb wines per course selected from wineries who will be showcasing their wines for you to taste the following day. Join us for this special dinner and enjoy great food, wine and company. View menu
Five course dinner with two matched wines per course and Schramsberg Californian sparkling wine aperitif – £120 per person

15th November – Wine Festival Tasting – £25 per person
12pm to 4pm
Join us for our fifth annual wine festival with over 150 wines available to taste from suppliers around the globe. Have fun and deepen your wine knowledge, chat with suppliers and winemakers, and attend our masterclasses throughout the day. Taste and enjoy wines from Peter Michael Winery, Schramsberg, Rudd Estate, Champagne Taittinger, Boutinot, Les Caves de Pyrene and more.
Wine ticket – £25 per person
Masterclass ticket – £5 per person

Please call us on 01635 589407 to book and discover more online

Stockfest Christmas Craft Fair at Stockcross
Saturday 15th November 11am – 4pm
Stockfest Christmas Craft Fair to be held at Sutton Hall, Church Road, Stockcross, Newbury, Berkshire, RG20 8LN. Pop along to the Christmas gift fair with over 20 stalls selling great festive gifts for all the family. There will be refreshments suitable for everyone available such as sandwiches, Christmas cakes, mince pies and drinks.

Discover more online

The bet365 Hennessy Festival at Newbury Racecourse

27th to 29th November

The biggest race weekend in the winter social calendar is almost up on us. Get your tickets to one of the most anticipated events in racing, the world famous Gold Hennessy cup, which incorporates the competitive spirit, history and elegance of the sport in three days of thrilling horseracing.

Day One
The bet 365 Listed Intermediate Hurdle as well as the feature race, The bet365 Novices’ Chase. Tickets are available from £14.40

Day Two
The Grade 2 Fuller’s London Pride Novices’ Chase along with a strong supporting card of races.
Tickets are available from £20.

Day Three
Feel the anticipation in the air on the final day of the festival which features the historic Hennessy Gold Cup and the bet365 Long Distance Hurdle.
Tickets are available from £30

The Three Day Festival ticket is available from just £45 for the Grandstand Enclosure and £55 for Premier.

 For further details see their website 

Switching on the Christmas Lights at Newbury
Sunday 30th November
One of the last events in Berkshire this November for all the family. Join Santa to make Newbury light up with the switching of the festive lights. There will be a parade which starts at 5:30pm as well as some traditional treats such as a German bratwurst sausage stall and some mouth-watering mulled wine.

There will be live music throughout the day and stalls selling some quirky Christmas gifts, and at 6.30pm the Christmas lights switch-on will take place on Wharf Street.

There will be hot food, sweets and doughnuts available in the Market Place so come along and enjoy the fun and bring the whole family!

For further details see their website

Only a few weeks until our annual wine festival on 15th November

glassesinarow - 580 x 288Well, with just a few weeks to go to our annual Wine Festival on 15th November, I have written the tasting book and compiled the wines to be poured on the day. I have to say that I’m really pleased with the line-up this year, with real diversity and quality so here’s a little “heads-up” on some of the delights in store… Tickets for the Wine Festival are just £25 and masterclass tickets are £5 per class. View masterclasses and suppliers

Glasses in a rowWe do also have a five course dinner with matching wines to open the annual wine festival on the evening of 14th November. It’s going to be a very lively and entertaining affair with suppliers each giving an insight into the wines they’ve chosen to match with the dishes. We are filling up fast for this event, but do still have places left if you would like to join us. View menu

As you would expect, California will be well-covered on the day, showcasing the best of the true North Coast region (taking in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties) and wines such as Waterstone, Ferrari-Carano and Donelan Family will be on tasting. Donelan has been our success story of 2014 with just beautiful Chardonnay, Roussanne and Syrah. Peter Michael Winery will have a selection of Pinot Noir plus the Knights Valley flagship Les Pavots on the stand.

Turning to Europe, brilliant winemaker Dermot Sugrue (ex-Nyetimber) will have his Goring Brut to show you just how good English fizz can be, however Champagne Taittinger will doubtless want to argue that point with their collection of wines open, plus I will stand my corner with Schramsberg Vineyards! Germany is covered by the wines of Weegmuller and Huesgen whilst Spain has Lopez de Heredia – surely the most classic Rioja you will find. On other stands South Africa, Italy, France and Austria are all showcased. This is truly a world wine festival!

And just to finish, we’ll be opening a selection of Sherries this year, plus a pair of beautiful Madeiras, the perfect Christmas day post prandial.

MeatPlatterThe Wine Festival begins at 12pm and finishes at 4pm. There will be over 150 wines to taste throughout the day and you’ll also be able to chat to WSET experts about the WSET courses we offer here.  Don’t forget,  your £25 wine ticket can be redeemed against a case of wine over the value of £250 and we also have a special lunch menu available in our restaurant for just £25 per person. To view the menu, please visit our website.

See you there…

James Hocking
Director of Wine
The Vineyard Cellars

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!


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