Tag Archives: The Vineyard at Stockcross

Icon Wine of the Week: Nebbiolo’s Barbaresco

This week, we are exploring one of the greatest examples of the Nebbiolo grape: Spinetta from Vignetto Gallina,  Italy. Producing highly tannic wines, commonly suitable for ageing, here we showcase one of the greatest vintages in modern times.

Nebbiolo

Barbaresco from the DOCG of Piedmont in North Western Italy is made from the Nebbiolo grape, ubiquitous in this region. Nebbiolo is a very delicate grape variety producing a light red wine, almost similar to Pinot Noir but with a heavier structure. It is very food friendly, and as wines traditionally best match with the cuisine of the local area, the foods of North Western Italy is ideal.

Most wines made using Nebbiolo are made for ageing. This bottle, a 1997, will have softened somewhat over 18 years, to bring out more mature and complex notes, with tar and roses coming to the fore.

1997 is always regarded as a great vintage in Italy and this is one of the greatest examples of Nebbiolo. The wine develops some ripe dark cherries, plums and cooked strawberries aromas followed by a touch of violet, cedar wood, truffle with an earthy note and showing a soft and feminine palate.
This wine pairs perfectly with duck.

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.

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!

Peter Michael Wine: An Auspicious Meeting

Every bottle of Peter Michael Wine bears the six word credo: ‘Mountain Vineyards, Classical Winemaking, Limited Production’. Learn what happened the last time Robert Parker, acclaimed wine critic, met owner Sir Peter Michael in London.

Peter Michael Wine

It is no secret that wine critic Robert Parker has been a fan of Peter Michael Winery bottles from quite some time.

While Mr. Parker has visited winery regularly to taste new releases, Sir Peter had actually never met him as their visits simply never coincided. This changed when the critic brought his ‘World Tour’ to London last February. As part of the event, Sir Peter had the pleasure of attending the ‘Gala Hedonist’s Dinner’ at the Michelin Two-Star restaurant ‘The Ledbury’ in Notting Hill. There, he and ‘Bob’ finally got to shake hands and share a pleasant chat.

The soiree included a sumptuous menu prepared by The Ledbury’s chef Brett Graham and paired with rare wines, all of which had received perfect scores from Mr. Parker. Sir Peter was particularly proud that two of the nine wines served were his own. 2012 Cuvee Indigene was served alongside Scottish langoustine wrapped in shitake, with mandarin orange and ginger. 2010 Ma Danseuse was paired with aged pigeon with rhubarb, beetroot and olives. Delicious.

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.

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.

 

The seasonal wonders of mackerel, tuna and crab

Fish plays a big part on our menu and sustainable line-caught or certified organic fish, including hand-dived scallops is something we are committed to and believe in strongly. Here, Executive Chef Daniel Galmiche highlights  the wonders of mackerel, tuna and crab and their wine pairing, all in-season now.

The sustainability of fish is a big issue these days and is very important that I find the right suppliers who will provide the best possible fish that is also sourced from sustainable stocks. It is too easy to forget that most species are overfished and therefore becoming expensive, as well as increasingly rare.

The beautiful mackerel with its black and blue stripes, full of omega-3 fatty acids and packed with goodness is delicious grilled, smoked, pan-roasted, whole or in fillet form. Lime works with the flavour of the fish really well. Depending on how it is served, medium-bodied crisp whites such as Muscadet, Gavi di Gavi or Picpoul de Pinet work very well with this fish.

I also adore tuna, especially blue fin tuna which is incredibly rare. I source yellow-fin or skipjack tuna instead. I love tuna raw, pan-fried or marinated and it is delicious also in a Niçoise salad. This fish works well with rich full-bodied whites such as Australian Chardonnay, or light-bodied reds such as a New Zealand Pinot Noir.

Crab is now in season and when selecting crab meat to buy, as with every fish, it is so important to buy fresh, quality produce from a good source. Crabs should look undamaged and feel heavy for their size. Again this works well with aromatic medium-dry whites such as South African Chenin Blanc or crisp dry whites such as unoaked Chardonnay.