Wine (and food) on a Brighton getaway

Apr 19, 12 Wine (and food) on a Brighton getaway

Posted by in England, Food and Wine, Lifestyle

I was invited down to Brighton recently to check out the Brighton and Hove food and wine festival. I’ve been to Brighton a few times and it is relatively easy to get there from London. If you can’t be bothered to do all the legwork yourself you can find Brighton Holidays online. The last time I was there for a winemaker’s dinner at the Hotel du Vin Brighton, so I was pleasantly surprised to hear that part of the festival was being held at the hotel and that they would be putting me up for the night there. This isn’t my first time at HdV Brighton, I’ve stayed there in the past and always enjoy walking into the comforting decor of the hotel, alternating between dark and blonde wood, cozy couches and chairs scattered around the main bar and a bustling bistro next to it. From the outside, the building dates back to the 16th-17thth century, complete with timber and whitewalls on certain parts of the hotel.  The interior though has all the mod cons and the suites come with giant bathtubs for a soak after spending the day at the beach, which by the way is literally across the road from the hotel. There’s also a charming courtyard as well as a suntrap of a terrace on the first floor. The hotel was putting on a small wine festival and had local producers and wine shops on hand to show off their wines. There was a large proportion of English wines available, including Ridgeview, Bolney’s and even Plumpton College had their local sparkling on offer. I also tried a fantastic pinot blanc from Stopham Estates. They are located in West Sussex and are the only producers of pinot blanc in the UK. The wine was not at all what I was expecting, not tasting like an English wine. By that I mean it didn’t have the telltale elderflower aromas or flavours nor was it slightly off dry. Bright and chipper, balanced fruit and...

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Afternoon tea and gin in Henley

Aug 26, 11 Afternoon tea and gin in Henley

Posted by in Spirits

Champagne and a boat ride down the Thames. Then High Tea and Gin. Perfect. If only we lived in a sunnier clime. As it was, we were greeted with torrential rain when we arrived at the Hotel du Vin in Henley. But not to worry, rather then have champagne on a boat, we were warmly seated on the leather banquettes of their lounge, daintily sipping away. Who needs a boat ride, anyway? 😉 The hotel more then made up for the rather trad English summer weather with a fantastic welcome. The Assistant Sommelier, Aranka Komjati came out and gave us a short tutorial on the house champagne. Lombard & C0, which was founded in 1925,  supply the HdV with their champagne. A light, fresh and fruity wine, plenty of green apple, lemon and lime on the nose and palate and the cutest little bubbles. I don’t know why but bubbles always make me happy and the ones in this champagne were particularly playful.  Afterwards, we headed into the bistro for afternoon tea. Tiered serving platters instantly appeared laden with finger sandwiches, brownies, cakes and, my favourite, scones with CLOTTED CREAM. I adore clotted cream although my arteries probably are against it, along with fresh strawberry jam. Heaven. Served alongside all those lovely pastries were loose leaf tea in charming blue and white china. After we’d had our fill of tea it was time for a quick look around the hotel. Originally, we were supposed to have our gin tasting on the “sun-drenched deck” of one of the master suites. We got to see the 2 floor suite and the now rain-drenched deck which had some specatular views of the Thames and the surrounding hills.  I should mention that the deck has it’s own personal bathtub so you can sip your favourite libation while having a good long soak.  Not to worry, there was also another giant bathtub in the second floor bathroom. Back in the bistro and time for gin. Not any old gin...

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Golf Live Show this weekend (and wine!)

May 21, 11 Golf Live Show this weekend (and wine!)

Posted by in Lifestyle

If you like golf like I like golf, you should get down to the Golf Live Show going on right now! This weekend at the London Golf Club just outside of Tunbridge Wells. I was invited as a guest of Hotel du Vin, they know I like my wine but what do they have to do with golf? Plenty it turns out, as they work with the 2010 Ryder Cup captain Colin Montogomerie in support of Elizabeth Montogomerie Foundation, Colin’s charity that he set up in memory of his mother who died of cancer. Hotel du Vin also plays host to all the professional golfers, providing their accommodation for the duration of the show. They are some lucky golfers enjoying the Hotel du Vin Tunbridge Wells and all it’s fabulous wines. The show is everything to do with golf. I was in golf heaven. They have pros on hand to give tips on how to improve your putting, driving, chipping, slicing, you name it, they can probably solve your problem.  There are also plenty of masterclasses from some golfing greats. Besides Colin , Ian Woosnam, David Howell, Carly Booth and Trick Shot master Jeremy Dale are just a few of the pros  on hand to give demonstrations and chat. Golf Courses to me are some of the most beautiful places to visit and there are plenty of golf course representatives on hand if you fancy booking a holiday. From the very trad Scotland and Ireland to the more exotic Dominican Republic and, the one I’d like to visit, Turkey, you can take your pick. Of course, they all seem to be giving away holidays, so fingers crossed, I win one! Of course, being the ‘sleuth, I did find some very good wine at the show as well. The Desires de Vin company have a stall where you can pop by and buy a glass or two of red or white Burgundy. I particularly liked the 2009 Auxey Duresses red, silky and fruity with some...

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Hotel Du Vin in Poole and their recently launched Ecole du Vin

Oct 12, 10 Hotel Du Vin in Poole and their recently launched Ecole du Vin

Posted by in Food and Wine, Hotels and Spas

I stayed at a Hotel du Vin for the first time a few weeks ago. When we were shown to our room, I was a bit surprised to see upon entering a claw-footed bathtub at the foot of the bed. A bit taken aback, I asked the porter, um, does this room have a proper bathroom as well?  Actually, all the superior rooms and above at all the Hotel du Vins have bathtubs in the actual bedrooms as well as full, separate bathrooms with monsoon showers. The Dom Perignon suite even has two bathtubs side by side so you and your loved one can bath together -but not together. Giordana (my Italian flatmate who came along with me for the weekend) and I both thought that was bit peculiar, why would you take a bath NEXT to your partner but, hey, this is England and we ARE foreigners. OR, maybe the second bath tub is there to be filled with ice and bottles of Dom? The bath anyway, was wasted on us as we were there to review the new Ecole du Vin that the hotel sommelier Ronan Sayburn, Master Sommelier, was relaunching at the Poole hotel. We did however, manage to put the tub to use (pictured). Speaking with Ronan during drinks the first evening, I asked him  how he was going to go about conducting a wine school for groups of varied guests some of which would probably be quite knowledgeable about wine while others would not have a clue, other than “knowing what I like”. Ronan said that was part of the challenge for him, as well as part of the fun of the entire wine school concept: to come up with a fun wine weekend that wouldn’t bore the casual wine drinkers or the wine anoraks among the guests but be enjoyable and educational for everyone.     That weekend the theme was the wines of Bordeaux. The wine weekends start off with a wine dinner on Friday nite and...

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