Sip your way around the world at the UK’s wine hotel
19 Jan 2017
- Award-winning Sommelier Romain Bourger offers wine regions to watch this year
- Paired dishes by award-winning Head Chef Robby Jenks’s Discovery Tasting Menu
- Wine education with WSET Level 1 and 2 courses throughout the year
The Vineyard hotel loves wine! Sir Peter Michael, the owner of the hotel, founded The Peter Michael Winery in 1982 on a square mile of rocky volcanic ridges that form the western face of Mount St. Helena in Knights Valley, Sonoma County, California.
Back in the heart of Berkshire, Sir Peter Michael opened the UK’s wine hotel. Home to some 30,000 bottles of wine and an award-winning restaurant and Spa, The Vineyard is an oenophile’s dream.
Californian wine is prominent on the wine card. But visitors to The Vineyard can pick almost any country in the world and sip their way through a bottle of carefully selected wine. Roman Bourger, won ‘UK Young Sommelier of the Year’ for 2016. Romain was also awarded silver in the International Final of the Jeunes Sommelier Competition which was organised by The Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, an international gastronomic society.
Here are some 2017 wine regions to watch, recommended by Romain:
England: For the past 20 years, wine making in England has hugely improved, in particular in terms of sparkling wines. Being made in the same way as Champagne (with the second fermentation in bottle), those wines offer great complexity and cellaring potential. Interestingly enough, the climate and soil happen to be very similar to the Champagne region, however, all those wines keep their identity often offering a great freshness. Some estates are already well known, but it is definitely worth looking out for the emerging estates!
Hungary: The dessert wines of the Tokaj region have been known for centuries but did you know that a dry version is also made? Hungary is a country that has a lot to offer in terms of wine. They are also full of history, such as the red wines from Egri Bikaver (Bull’s Blood), a full bodied blend led by the local Kekfrankos. To me, it’s a country worth discovering either through European grapes or local varieties.
Southern Italy: The Southern part of Italy used to be called Enotria, the land of vine. There is a vast amount of wine produced there, great quality and not as expensive as the more famous Northern Italian wines. This region produces ripe and aromatic whites and full flavoured reds alongside some luscious sweet wines. There is definitely something for everyone!
New York: Less known that their West Coast counterpart, wines from the state of New York are just remarkable! Some beautiful Riesling are produced there as well as fantastic Chardonnay. The wines tend to be a bit more European in style with not as much concentration as Californian wines. There are a lot of red varietals produced, Merlot tend to give a great result but you can also find some incredible fruit driven Syrah with their typical black pepper notes.
Paso Robles (California): Paso Robles is a fairly inland region located almost mid way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. A warmer part of California producing some rich and tropical Chardonnays as well as some great Bordeaux styles. One of my favourite estates there is called Justin Vineyards, they were one of the pioneers to produce Bordeaux blend. It is of course well suited for Cabernet Sauvignon, they tend to be riper and juicer than the Cabernet from Napa or Sonoma with softer tannic structures.
Alsace: Being from the neighbouring region, I have always loved Alsace wines. You can easily find wine to pair with anything, from Sparkling to light reds and sweet wines. The versatility of the wines make them the perfect choice to go for! Of course they go well with oriental food but also with so much more! For example, a Pinot Gris Grand Cru with its oily texture would perfectly match a white meat. Also, if you have the occasion, it’s a beautiful and rich region to visit!
Head Chef Robby Jenks, awarded an Acorn Award has teamed up with Romain to pair some of the dishes from the Discovery Tasting Menu with a wine by the glass:
Loch Duart salmon, cucumber, English wasabi and dill
Gusbourne, Reserve, Brut, Kent, England, 2009 £12.50
A beautifully fresh sparkling wine made from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier that cut through the salmon but match the freshness of the cucumber
Pan- fried Label Rouge foie gras, preserved plums, parsnip and basil
Alsace Grand Cru Riesling, Domaine Schlumberger, Kitterlé, Alsace, France, 2012 £13.00
This great Riesling is actually dry but has a beautiful oily texture to match the richness of the Foie Gras
Fillet of halibut, parsley, mussels and sea herbs
Cerasuolo di Vittoria, Azienda Agricola Cos, Sicily, Italy, 2012 £10.00
This light red wine is mainly made from Nero d’Avola and has a very aromatic nose but a delicate texture on the palate that goes amazingly well with the meatiness of the halibut
Saddle of venison, red cabbage, blackberry and chervil root
Justin Vineyards, Justification, Cabernet Franc/Merlot, Paso Robles, CA, 2012 £12.00
This wine is made more as a Saint Emilion style, the powerful nose of ripe dark fruit goes greatly with the blackberries of course but also with the gaminess of the venison
Earl grey parfait, lemon bergamot, cubebe pepper
Tokaji, Sauska, 5 Puttonyos, Tokaj, Hungary, 2003 £18.00
An amazing Tokaj, this wine isn’t too sweet so it doesn’t overpower this delicious dessert but the slightly honeyed notes pair very well with the earl grey parfait
Robby Jenks is a rising star chef and has been at the hotel for just under a year. He won the Acorn award early after arriving at the 3 AA Rosette restaurant. He has high ambitions for 2017. The Vineyard hotel’s menus include the Discovery Tasting Menu (5 dishes £75.00), the Judgement of Paris Tasting Menu (7 dishes £89.00), a Vegetarian Tasting Menu, a lunch menu (3 courses £29.00), a dinner menu (3 courses £65.00) and a more relaxed California Bar Menu. Afternoon tea is also available daily and Pastry Chef Anthony Millon works directly with Robby to deliver this simple, light and fresh menu.
The 49-room Vineyard, with each suite and bedroom named after an iconic international wine is the ideal place to celebrate with wine. Guests can expect a feast for the eyes too with the walls around the hotel full of art by artists including Henry Martin, Ronald Searle, Boris Smirnoff and Doris Zinkeisen. The Vineyard is also home to a spa with an indoor pool for hotel guests only. Whilst staying at the hotel, guests can explore nearby destinations including Highclere Castle, more famously known as Downton Abbey, just a few miles from the hotel.
Those interested in furthering their knowledge in wine can attend WSET courses at the hotel, both levels 1 and 2 run throughout the year. Level 1 courses are on 26th February, 23rd April, 21st May and 11th June. The level 2 course is between 5th and 7th March.
Eat. Sleep. And drink wine. This is the hotel’s motto which fully invites guests to indulge the palate whilst refreshing the spirit.
The Vineyard, Stockcross, Newbury, Berkshire RG20 8JU 01635 897589
Accommodation and breakfast is priced from £247 based on two guests.