‘Back to the Vine’ – 20 years of The Vineyard

3rd July 2018


The moment you arrive at The Vineyard you are very much aware that you will be in for not only fine food, relaxational treats and quality rooms to enjoy that well needed comfortable night stay, but wine is the theme and the passion of which you will share in the experience of. A luxurious destination that if you allow yourself to indulge fully within, will refuel the gastronomic, art, music, wine and tranquillity zones of your mind and body.” Christopher Walkey

We have 30,000 bottles of wine in storage here within our cellars” said the young lady Sommelier who took me on a quick tour of the growing locations of The Vineyard and its dedicated rooms for wine storage, ” …our wine list has 2,500 bottles to choose from to satisfy any lover of wine from fine vintages to recently released younger wines – Indulge yourself in our list.” This tour was in between being greeted with a glass of chilled Champagne for myself and my guest that evening, one of our investors, Mr Coverdale. The evening was dedicated to celebrating 20 years of The Vineyard and a ‘Back to the Vine‘ special evening with fine food and wine pairing menu awaited us.

Let me just mention a few of the notes I took from the tour of The Vineyard which other guests may find both interesting and may very well tempt them in to exploring further upon their visit:

The Vineyard is owned by Sir Peter Michael who’s many achievements include being the founder of Classic FM, he also owns his own Peter Michael Winery out in California. Each of the hotels 49 rooms are designed to tell a story and are also individually named after an iconic wine. The Vineyard is home to Peter’s art collection with some 1,000 pieces from his personal collection on show throughout the premises. You can enjoy the spa and indoor swimming pool with both sauna and steam room during your stay.

Back to the Vine:

It is all about celebrating 20 years of The Vineyard and bringing together fine chefs that once served in the kitchens back to hotel to prepare their own five course dinners with wine pairings for guests to enjoy with the chance to also meet the chef and take a tour of the kitchen during the busy preparation and serving period. I was invited to the enjoy Wednesday 27th June event with chef Matt Gillan from Pike and Pine restaurant in Brighton.

Matt had worked at The Vineyard between 2003 – 2006 and his CV of work includes spending time within chef Gordon Ramsey’s three Michelin star restaurant and Lodge Hotel in Sussex heading up a unique restaurant The Pass. His menu for the evening was:

Beetroot tart, orange jelly, watercress puree. horseradish ice creak paired with Alsace Grand Cru Riesling, Cave de Turckheim 2013:Though beetroot is never my favourite ingredient, Matt has done incredibly well in orchestrating a host of flavours to give a creamy and smooth tasting entry dish – The citrus of the wine shines through when combined.

Pecan crusted Pollock, caramelised aubergine, roasted garlic arancini, pickled blueberry paired with Rueda Bodgeas Naia Verderjo Castilla-y-Léon 2014:Delicate flavours to the fish, fresh tasting with spices and once again, a host of flavours all competing well in the palate. Unsure of the wine pairing suggestion here as I felt the red wine took away the positive experience of the fish to slightly clash.

Lamb shoulder, roasted pineapple, lamb fat dumpling, red pepper, marzipan paired with Waterkloof Syrah Circumstance Stellenbosch 2016:This is the 5 star dish of the evening, great near melt in the mouth lamb with subtle sweetness, balanced throughout and ever so more’ish. With such a dish it is hard to justify sacrificing any of its flavours with a wine accompanying it. The wine though fared well when paired with the glorious and powerful flavours of the dish (especially the roasted pineapple), it was simply taken away to leave a caramel pineapple flavour sensation.

Peach Pannacotta, peach sorbet, sumac meringue paired with Moscato d’Asti Alasia Piemonte 2017:The sparkling wine was a refreshing palate cleansing choice when paired with this dish it offered burnt honey and near ripe yellow stone fruit flavours and let the biscuit flavours of the dish jump out at you.

Tonka bean parfait, strawberry sorbet, balsamic jelly, poppy seeds paired with Cline Cellars Mourvedre late Harvest Contra Costa 2016:A rich flavoured dessert with a fine yet connected array of fruity and punchy flavours. The wine was full of red berry sweetness alone then gave chocolate coffee cream / mulled flavours when paired with the dish.

Christopher Walkey

Co-founder of Glass of Bubbly. Journalist and author focused on Champagne & Sparkling Wines and pairing them with foods.