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Named after owner Sir Peter Michael’s elite Californian winery, this upscale hotel-cum- hospitality destination certainly knows how to put on the style. The Vineyard’s “unparalleled” cellar runs to
30,000 bottles (and counting), while the glamorous split-level dining room reminded one visitor of an ornate 1950s movie set. Chef Daniel Galmiche is “striding along”, delivering a sophisticated,
subtly inventive take on classic European cuisine – perhaps “unexpectedly wonderful” guinea fowl terrine with blood orange, chicory leaves and crushed almonds, the much-lauded confit duck breast
with butternut squash and wild rice or brill with celeriac, chow-chow and watercress. Diners are encouraged to pick several dishes from the flexible carte, rounding off with something sweet such as
rhubarb savarin poached in thyme with hazelnut cream. Prices can be steep, but with matching wines plucked from 100 by-the-glass selections, bills don’t need to be extortionate. Well-tutored staff
go about their business with warm enthusiasm.
With UK Sommelier of the Year Yohann Jousselin MS at the helm, you’d expect this list to be on the money – and you’d be right. An enormous list – more than 120 pages – but it’s not simply stuffed with big names and myriad vintages. The Vineyard’s list is justly renowned for its selection of more than 300 Californian wines that is probably unequalled anywhere outside the States, but what really impresses is the willingness to take great wine from everywhere, whether fashionable or not. There is, of course, real sexiness to be had in the European wines: half-a-dozen vintages of Cheval Blanc back to 1955, for instance; nine vintages of Ornellaia and more than a dozen of Sassicaia. And the selection of 60 ‘Everyday Drinking’ sub-£30 wines (helpfully split up by style) is proof of a genuine desire (rather than token effort) to cater for the budget-conscious.
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