Tag Archives: food and wine pairing

Icon Wine Of The Week: 2005 Taittinger

There can be no other wine that signifies romance like Champagne. For this week, the week of love, our sommelier team have chosen 2005 Taittinger as our Icon Wine, a beautiful expression of rich, toasty, vanilla-led Champagne.

shutterstock_154316906

‘Tis the weekend of Love and to celebrate St Valentine I have selected one of Champagne’s finest cuvées.

Since its first release in 1952, only 30 vintages have been produced. For me, 2005 is among the best!

Comtes de Champagne is a blend of Chardonnay from five different Grands Crus from the Côte De Blancs.

It is not released before it has aged for 10 years in the Taittinger cellars and 2005 is the newest release. This Champagne develops some toasty and hazelnut notes due to a slight barrel ageing, as well as some lovely ripe stone fruit tones, aromas of citrus fruits and vanilla.

The palate shows a great balance with a lively minerality and a long finish.

A fantastic Champagne to have as an aperitif or to enjoy with our Scallops dish!

Californian Wine At The Vineyard

Our West Berkshire abode is home to 30,000 bottles from all around the world, many of which are Californian in origin. Romain Bourger, our Head Sommelier, tells us more about our Californian wines and what it means to work in one of the world’s finest collections of Californian wines.

Working at The Vineyard, I am very lucky to work with one of the world’s finest Californian wine selections. As we make wine in California, we have great longstanding relations with fellow producers in California. It is through our wine merchant, The Vineyard Cellars, that we import many rare wines that are rarely seen outside of the US. Around 95% of wine produced in California stays within the United States, so this is privilege for us oenophiles indeed.

California produces the gamut of wine types and styles, from sparkling and light whites to heavy reds as well as dessert wines, and we have the opportunity to offer almost everything in these categories. Our wide range contains Californian sparkling wine, top Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir as classics, as well as other international varietals such as Riesling, Pinot Gris, Albariño, Gewürztraminer, Cabernet Franc, Syrah/Rhône blends and so forth.

Hit by the ‘Two Buck Chuck’ and ‘Anything But Chardonnay’ labels in earlier decades, California has some stellar producers, and wines for laying down. From artisanal producers to big brand names, with quality to match, our selection comprises the entire range.  Big names including the famous Peter Michael Winery, Abreu, Colgin, Diamond Creek, Chateau Montelena, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars and more form a large part of our Californian collection.

Artisanal and boutique wineries such as Buccella, Donelan, Wind Gap, Bonny Doon Vineyards (especially know for its Rhône blends), Lokoya, Vérité and Cardinale form part of our list too – we want to be a true ambassador to the wines from the Golden State.

Being a Frenchman working in this “temple to Californian wine”, I have managed to learn a lot about this remarkable wine region and have tasted many that I’ll remember for the rest of my life.

Icon Wine of the Week: 2005 Puligny Montrachet

Now that our Iconic Indulgence getaway is available all week, there’s even more time to enjoy our Icon Wine of the Week. This week’s Icon Wine is a delicious Puligny Montrachet from an exceptional vintage, 2005.

2005 Puligny Montrachet Premier Cru, Clavoillon, Domaine Leflaive, Burgundy
This week, we are paying tribute to one of the most involved and talented producers in Burgundy: Anne Claude Leflaive, and one of the most exceptional vintages, 2005, which is drinking really well now.

Domaine Leflaive was established in 1717 and is nowadays regarded as one of the finest Burgundy estates. Mainly producing wines from Puligny-Montrachet, this week’s bottle is a Puligny Premier Cru from a vineyard of 11.84 acres called Clavoillon. The wine had a barrel age of 12 months and a following six months in stainless steel.

With a creamy texture, the wine develops notes of hazelnuts and roasted almonds as well as some baked apple and stone fruit tones on the nose. The rich palate is balanced by a chalky minerality giving to the wine a great freshness. It is a great pairing for our cod course.

Icon Wine of the Week: Chateau Montelena

Made legendary by the historic Judgement of Paris, to which we are so indebted, Chateau Montelena is a rich, juicy, profound red, a showstopping Cabernet ideal for the Christmas table. Fittingly, it is our Christmas Weekend icon wine.

Montelena

Chateau Montelena was founded in 1882 by Alfred Tubbs. The renaissance of the winery, under the leadership of James Barrett, began in 1972 with the replanting of the Estate vineyard and the establishment of the Chateau Montelena philosophy: make the best, period.

Today the tradition continues. Jim Barrett’s son, Bo, winemaker at Chateau Montelena beginning in 1982, is now its Master Winemaker. After more than three decades of experience with the same vineyards and varieties, the Montelena Estate Cabernet Sauvignon and Napa Valley Chardonnay are recognized as world-class. This is a smooth and elegant wine with a long finish.

The 1999 Cabernet Sauvignon Estate (an 8,600-case cuvée made from yields of 1.98 tons of fruit per acre) is considered by Bo Barrett to be a “great” year. The wine boasts a saturated inky/purple colour as well as extraordinary density of fruit and cassis, and huge tannin, body, and extract. It is a substantial, palate-staining, long, muscular Cabernet.

There is the trademark Montelena earthy, berry fruit, smoky and rich with many subtleties. On the palate it has a big juicy front, a very full texture and many layers of flavours in a rich cross section of fruit and terroir.

Great with our chefs Cornish Lamb shoulder or grilled red beef.

Icon Wine of the Week: Château Lagrange from St. Julien

Bordeaux is one of the most revered and long-standing wine regions in the world. St Julien, situated on the Left Bank, is no exception, producing Cabernet Sauvignon-dominated reds.

St Julien

Château Lagrange was known in the Middle Ages as the Noble House of Lagrange Montei. Records of the successive owners go back as far as 1631. In 1824 the total production was 120 barrels (12 000 cases). In 1842, the ex-Home Secretary to King Louis-Philippe, Count Duchatel, left his mark on the property and the Médoc by introducing a drainage system in the vineyard. This helped improve the wine immensely. While drainage in vineyards is common today, that was very forward thinking in 1842.

The Count brought the annual production up to 300 barrels. This was a golden age for Lagrange, with the famous 1855 classification awarding the property the title of Third Classified Growth. The beginning of the 20th century was much less glorious as the economic conditions deteriorated. Despite several changes in ownership the yields were lower and of lesser quality. A decline in business meant the estate had to be broken up from 280 hectares (around 700 acres) in 1840, the domain had been reduced to 157 hectares (392 acres) by December 1983, when the Japanese group Suntory bought it from the Cendoya family, owners since 1925.

Lots of floral, berry and raspberry character on the nose lead to a medium- to full-bodied, with well-integrated tannins and a fresh finish. Aromas of tobacco, smoke, cigar box, blackberry and cedar wood personality. The tannins are ripe, the fruit is ample and fresh, finish with a spicy, cassis and pomegranate note. Lovely wine. Round and refined.

Great with our chef’s lamb and beef.

Icon Wine of the Week: 2010 Sassicaia

The original “Super Tuscan”,  2010 Sassicaia Tenuta San Guido Incisa della Rocchetta from Bolgheri in Tuscany, Italy welcomes in the first weekend of advent. Warm, rich and lustrous, this is the ideal winter warmer by our fire. One of our wine team, Michael Meyers, tells us more.

_MG_3149 compressed

Sassicaia is the only single estate wine in Italy with its own appellation – Bolgheri Sassicaia. It was the original “Super Tuscan” and is a blend of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon and 15% Cabernet Franc, aged for 24 months in French barriques, of which these days ony 20% are new.

Mario Incisa della Rochetta, part of a grand old Italian family who’s roots extend back to the Renaissance and beyond, and cousin of the Antinoris, married Clarice della Gherardesca in 1930 and with his wife came some land in Bolgheri. The story of Sassicaia was just beginning. Mario dreamed of making a wine like the grand vins of Bordeaux and, noticing a similarity between his Bolgheri vineyards and those of the Graves, decided to plant some Cabernet Sauvignon. In the early years the wine was just for consumption on the estate and was not always well appreciated. Fortunately, a few cases were put away to age with each vintage and, once time had worked its magic, it became clear that these were wines that only truly showed their majesty with a few years in bottle.

The first vintage released for commercial sale was the 1968 and it transformed Tuscan wine and has given rise to a host of imitators and rivals. Sassicaia is now revered, not only as one of the best wines in Italy, but as one of the best wines in the world.

The 2010 Sassicaia is intensely saline, savoury and energetic. Rosemary, sage, plums and black cherry notes meld into graphite, crushed rocks and a host of other more mineral-inflected nuances. This red is very aromatic with currant, dried berry, cocoa bean, and hints of wood. It’s full-bodied, with intense yet very polished tannins and a long finish. It’s very refined and beautiful with a tangy finish. The Cabernet Franc comes through here at the finish.

This is great with lamb and beef.

Icon wine of the week: 2007 Californian Chardonnay

And now from some Californian sunshine, specifically in the form of 2007 Flowers Chardonnay made by Camp Meeting Ridge on the Sonoma Coast in California. Our Sommelier team tells us more about this little known but much acclaimed producer and grape.

This weekend we will be showcasing one of California’s most acclaimed Chardonnays!
To me, Flowers produces some of California’s best Chardonnay. The Camp Meeting Ridge vineyard was planted in 1991 and is considered by the estate itself as producing the most exciting and interesting Chardonnay.

The wine undergoes fermentation and ageing in French oak barrel of which only 35% new to retain a certain freshness and minerality.

2007 is often regarded as one of California’s best vintage and this wine is a great example.

The nose offers complex aromas of fresh hazelnut and almond, ripe yellow peach, pear, as well as confit lemon peel

The palate is rich, creamy with some toasty notes, sweet spices like vanilla and cinnamon. It is long and amazingly well balanced

I would suggest this excellent Chardonnay with our Halibut dish.

Mushrooms: A Seasonal Delight

‘Tis the season for richer game-flavoured dishes thanks to in-season game meats and woodland crops. Our forests are generous with a wealth of delights for us to choose from and we explore the seasonal delight of mushrooms.

There are hundreds of common mushroom varieties such as button and brown mushroom buts some of the tastiest include field mushrooms, morels, oyster mushrooms and blewits. Field mushrooms are delicious with sautéed butter and herbs and are found in summer and autumn in rich open manured grasslands grazed by horses or cows. Morels are best cooked with a touch of cream and chopped chives – they have a light honeycomb pattern and a delicate scent. Oyster mushrooms are found in later autumn and have a very mild flavour – they are delicious fricasseed or sautéed with garlic or finished with cream on a steak.

Mushrooms are so versatile and go well with many other ingredients such as shellfish, poultry and meat. Wild game (also in season) with wild mushrooms is an especially good match – they are made for each other. Mushrooms are also a great option for vegetarians.

The flavour texture and scent of wild mushrooms, available either dried or fresh are very distinct – cultivated mushrooms are more widely available but are no match for the unique appeal of their wild cousins!

The Colours Of Autumn

There is so much choice for fresh produce in September and to celebrate the wonderful crop of seasonal vegetables, our kitchen team showcases the best in season to create the colours of autumn on your plate.

Just as the heady days of Summer wane, crops spoil us with a wealth of colourful health-giving produce that are prime for creating comforting, warming dishes ideal for crisp mornings and chilly afternoons.

Succulent, lip-smacking raspberries and pears are ideal on top of muesli or to create an energising smoothie. We’ve showcased this on our vegetarian menu with our delicious dessert: ‘raspberry and beetroot with marinated strawberry in port with wild strawberry sorbet’. Also you might spy a raspberry or two in our afternoon tea cakes!

The tartness and fleshiness of plums and greengage make up our dessert of walnut praline and greengage coulis with sautéed plums.

The fresh produce in autumn makes creating vegetarian recipes easy. For example, layering vegetables in a baking dish with garlic and herbs to create a vegetable gratin is very easy yet supremely tasty and health-giving. Kale, potatoes, squash and swede are really filling too.

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!