Tag Archives: wine

Spanish Wine at Donnington Valley

Spanish wine has undergone a vast change in recent years, and it now produces a wide range of fashionable and affordable red, white and rosé wines. Chris Neeves, Head Sommelier at Donnington Valley Hotel and Spa, pops the cork on the delicious Spanish wine that he serves within the Hotel.

Spanish Wine

I have had a passion for Spanish wine since an early age. My first wine experience was with a white Marques de Murrieta that my father gave me a soupcon to try. I loved it and that is the time I first became interested in wine, much to my mother’s dismay as I was only about 10 or 11 at the time.

Here is a round-up of my top Spanish wines that we have on offer at the moment – I hope to see you soon in our restaurant so you too can experience these remarkable wines.


2013 José Pariente, Verdejo, Rueda, Spain

This wine is intense, with a strong aroma of fresh white fruits, citrus and passion fruit. Structured and persistent, it also has aromas of fennel and scrub and a balsamic back note of anise, expressing the elegant crispness of the Verdejo variety.

2011 Marqués de Riscal, Finca Montico, Rueda, Spain

The nose on this beautifully-perfumed wine has all the hallmarks of the Verdejo grape varietal with medium intensity and hints of fennel, herbs, white blossom, pear and peach. It has a fresh, unctuous, very smooth mouth-feel, with a long, round finish. Its good acidity together with a period of ageing on its finest lees helps to keep its fresh taste longer and preserves all its aromatic complexity. This wine does not aim to impress with a powerful nose, but rather reveals a more elegant, complex varietal character.

2012 A & A, Bodegas Martinez La Orden, Rioja, Spain

This wine is a straw colour, which could be quite misleading – the nose has rich tropical fruit and mineral aromas. Fresh and vibrant passionfruit and pineapple characters on the palate are followed by a dry finish and subtle oak notes. Delicious.


2012 Docetañidos Clarete, Lezcano Lacalle, Cigales, Spain

This is a rosé to remember. With a beautiful deep rose petal colour, the elegant nose has  hints of violet and red fruits which lead to a full and fresh palate of alluring aromatics including red berries and rose petals. A long, dry finish.


2008 Bodegas Ondarre, Reserva, Rioja, Spain

This traditionally-made Rioja displays lots of leather and spice on the nose. It is smooth and subtle on the palate, with strawberries and vanilla ice cream sustained through to a long finish with well integrated tannins.

2011 Bodegas Proelio, Crianza, Rioja, Spain

Ruby red in colour with violet hues, thisi s a complex wine with a long finish. The elegant nose is dominated by red fruits and in the mouth it is complex and fresh. the palate has good acidity, round tannins and a taste of red fruits and sweet spices.

2007 Viña Cerrada, Rioja, Reserva

This wine is cherry red with brick red tones. There are intense, spicy, ripe cherry and plum aromas merged with notes of tobacco, toffee, vanilla and wood. On the palate, the body is full and fleshy with excellent balance.

2011 Tandem, Ars In Vitro, Valle de Yerri, Navarra, Spain £29.00

With a red cherry colour, this wine has intense floral aromas, leading to a mineral, fresh and long palate.

2008 Ondarre, Graciano, Rioja, Spain

With balsamic aromas of mint and aniseed accompanied by ripe fruit and hints of flower blossom and white pepper, this wine is medium to full bodied, rich but elegant. Blackfruits, coffee and sweet spice come to life on the palate, with a soft finish.

2006 Tandem, Mâcula, Valle de Yerri, Navarra, Spain

Complex nose with smoky, toasty hints on the nose and chocolate, cassis and balsamic notes on the palate. True to its terroir, this wine expresses the soils of the Yerri valley.

2005 Marqués de Riscal, Gran Reserva, Rioja, Spain

This wine has a deep, almost opaque black-cherry colour. It has a very elegant, complex nose, with aromas of black fruit and lots of spice. It is smooth and round in the mouth, with tannins that are firm, yet silky and very sweet and which envelop the whole palate. The finish is long, lingering, fresh and balanced with a hint of fine elegant tannins.

Californian Wine at Donnington Valley

We are very keen on Californian wine at Donnington Valley. Not only does our owner Sir Peter Michael make great wine in California, many fantastic wines are produced in the area at all price points and styles. Head Sommelier Chris Neeves chooses his eight of the best.Bottles cropped

We are in a very lucky position at Donnington as we have easy access to many  top  Californian producers, one being of course Peter Michael Winery, who won “Wine Spectator Wine of the Year 2015” for 2012 Peter Michael, Cabernet, Oakville Au Paradis. The reason for this is that we import them ourselves through our trans-atlantic merchant, The Vineyard Cellars.

Here is a small selection of some of the wines we have on our wine list.

2012 Mandolin Riesling, Monterey
With its maritime influence, California’s Monterey region has an extended growing season that yields wines with full flavor development and great acid balance. Mandolin Riesling features fresh peach and apricot notes, framed by firm acidity. Due to its acidity this slightly sweet style makes the wine ideal with food.

2013 Honig, Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley
A crisp, fresh Sauvignon Blanc created in the classic Honig style. Peach, lemon grass, hints of Jasmine and pea shoot are balanced by grapefruit and lime. Medium-bodied, with a bright, lingering finish. Enjoyable with many foods including curries, roasted fish and a wide variety of cheeses. It is a perfect complement to relaxing on the porch with family and friends.

2009 Talley Vineyards, Chardonnay, Arroyo Grande Valley
The 2009 Estate Chardonnay has aromas of lemon verbena, mandarin, jasmine, and roasted almond. On the palate, this wine features layers of citrus, green apple, and minerals that lead into a refreshing and elegant finish. This well balanced Chardonnay pairs nicely with sea scallops as well as grilled chicken.

2008 Morlet Family Vineyards, La Proportion Dorée, Sonoma County
A harmonious blend of the three classic white Bordeaux varietals grown in the Golden State’s Sonoma County, this unique cuvée was handcrafted using classical winemaking techniques inspired from Pessac-Léognan. As in architectural arts, it is ‘The Golden Ratio’ or ‘La Proportion Dorée.’ Bright yellow. Intense bouquet of candied lemon, muscat, and honeysuckle flavors intermixed with sweet notes of ripened apricot and fresh quince. Full-bodied, seamless, refined and complex.

2011 Waterstone, Pinot Noir, Carneros
Dark plums, cherry, cola and leather are present in this wine’s aroma. The soft vanilla tones from the oak blend perfectly with the intense fruit core and soft tannins, providing complexity and balance and leading to a lingering finish.

2005 Tor Rock, Syrah, Las Madres Vineyard, Carneros
This vineyard has a distinct perfume that is very similar to a great Crozes-
Hermitage. The aromas are “garrigue” a mélange of southern French herbs,
bacon fat, and hard wood smoke. On the palate the wine is fat, rich, and palate-coating.

2009 Rudd, Crossroads, Field Blend, St Helena
The traditional term for this wine is a Field Blend. This is essentially mixed plantings for many grape varieties on one patch of land, and in this small vineyard close to the town of St. Helena you will find Grenache, Syrah, Zinfandel, Counoise and Mourvèdre in one spot. As the grape variety will confirm to you this is a very full bodied wine and works at its best with very rare beef!

2011 Justin Vineyards, Isosceles, Cabernet Sauvignon, Paso Robles
Full-bodied with black cherry, blackcurrant, and red berry fruit, with complex spice of vanilla and licorice. The mid-palate shows savoury cabernet notes with smoky cedar, chocolate, and continuing ripe black fruit.

So next time you come to see us, please try on of our great californan wines. I promise you that you will not be disappointed.

Upcoming Events this September

With summer drawing to a close and early signs of the Autumn onset starting to show, Newbury continues to maintain its calendar of ever- buzzing activity to get us out in the Autumn sunshine!


Royal Country of Berkshire Show

19th September – 20th September   

This annual family event is a highlight in Newbury’s social calendar. It’s a fun filled weekend for all the family to enjoy. Don the wellies and wrap up warm – it is sure to be a wonderful weekend with something to keep everyone happy. From furry farm animals to a selection of Britain’s finest foods, this is one for all the family.

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Newbury Real Ale Festival

12th September 

Live bands and beer… just what Saturday dreams are made of. With over 150 real ales, ciders and perrys for everyone to try and also a range of food options, including multiple hog roasts. Newbury’s annual Real Ale Festival is back and with a growing cult following, this year is bound to be better than before. Join and support local bands and breweries – and enjoy yourself very much! Opening Hours from 12 noon.

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Music in Victoria Park Bandstand

6th September      City of Oxford Silver Band

13th September    Hannington Silver Band

20th September    Cholsey Silver Band

27th September    Reading Spring Gardens Band

This September, take time for yourself and get lost in our local talent playing at the bandstand at Victoria Park in Newbury. Wrap up warm and join for a couple of hours of relaxation alongside the Kennet & Avon canal. Pack the picnic rugs and refreshments and pick from a selection of dates to suit you.

Playing between 15:00 – 17:00

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Burgundy Grand Cru Dinner

Wednesday 9th September

7pm arrival for 7.30pm

Grand Cru – The best of the best. There are 32 Grand Cru vineyards in Burgundy, accounting for less than 2 percent of all Burgundy wine production.  Esteemed by wine experts and cellar aficionados alike, this region also makes wines that match superbly with foods. Join our hosts for the night, including our wine expert James Hocking to learn more – and to enjoy imbibing! This is a unique event at The Vineyard; the first time that we have raided our cellar to show off some of our very best wines. Often referred to as “the holy grail” of wine producing regions, this is a dinner not to be missed!

Five course dinner with matching wines £150 per person

Stay the night with breakfast from £173.50 per person*

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Wedding Tips at Donnington Valley

When planning for your wedding day, catering will be one of the biggest decisions you will make. The food is one of the main things your guests will remember from the day, what they had, was there enough, was there too little and how did the food reflect you as a couple? Here are our best tips.


When it comes to deciding on catering for your big day there are a number of choices: a traditional three course wedding breakfast; a relaxed summer barbecue or even a Champagne afternoon tea. Try and be different – and think about the best bits from previous weddings you would have attended. Make it more about you and your partner.

Upon arrival following your ceremony, guests might be a little peckish; the perfect little appetiser would be individually handmade canapés. Time of year is key as to what this might entail – hot, cold, heavy or fresh. You might want the freedom to choose, some venues are more flexible here than others.

Drinks are also a very important part of the day and not everyone wants to drink, though some do! A range of beverages for your reception depending on the time of year including a Summer Pimms or hot winter cider toddy will go down well and don’t have to break the bank.

The main meal, often called the wedding breakfast, can come in a variety of guises – and our Head Chef, Kelvin Johnson, is happy to design a menu for our guests’ wedding day. Kelvin’s menus are influenced by the seasons, using the freshest ingredients from our local suppliers. Importantly for many, wines to compliment your menu sounds like a minefield but needn’t – our award winning wine sommelier, Chris Neeves would assist on selecting exactly what went with your chosen dish. Whatever you choose though, again consider what you and your partner like.

It is also nice to cater for others for example the vegetarians and children who might need something different to the rest. At Donnington we create ‘Little Meals’ – mini fish & chip cones or mini burgers and chips . If you have a large number of evening guests attending or have a family with a large appetite, a finger buffet is perfect, and we are able to customise to suit any dietary requirements. If you fancy something simple; a bacon, egg or sausage roll will go down a treat too and once the party starts can often be the saving grace!

And throughout the evening, something fun will keep everyone entertained and energy levels high! How about going for your favourite retro sweets, a popcorn machine or even candy floss! A great Summer treat is a slush machine which you can make alcoholic, adults only or even an ice cream stand- everyone loves ice cream!

It can be overwhelming trying to accommodate all of your family and friends’ needs. But most importantly remember the day is your day, and if you choose to have it at Donnington, we are here to make your day as special and memorable for you as possible.

Rosé Wine

Rosé Wines by the glass

Rosé wine

For a long time Rosé wine was associated almost exclusively with the summer months and mainly enjoyed by women. How things have changes, now rosé is widely enjoyed by both men and women alike.

Finding a good rosé can still be quite a challenge, with many being just too sweet and not well balanced at all. When I have been looking at rosé wines for the wine list here at Donnington Valley I have been careful to select well balanced wines with good fruit flavours.

As the warmer days are fast approaching, I am sure we will start to see more rosé being enjoyed, maybe even al fresco, once the weather starts to improve. I do have to admit a nice cool glass of anything on a warm day is a welcome treat.

We do have quite a large range of rosé wines on the list at the hotel. Take a look to see if any of these can tempt your taste buds and we hope to see you soon, sipping some on our patio.

2013 Bodegas Santa Ana, Malbec Rosé, Mendoza, Argentina – £23.00
2013 Gérard Bertrand, Gris Blanc, Languedoc-Roussillon, France – £23.00
2012 Docetañidos Clarete, Lezcano Lacalle, Cigales, Spain – £29.00
2012 Saint Clair, Pinot Gris Rosé, Marlborough, New Zealand – £29.00
2012 Planeta, Syrah, IGT, Sicily, Italy – £27.00
2011 Viña Leyda, Pinot Noir Rosé, Loica Vineyard, Leyda Valley, Chile – £31.00
2012 Sancerre Rosé, Domaine Serge Laloue, Loire, France – £47.00

N.V. Pinot Grigio Rose, Mirabello, Verona, Italy – £23.00
N.V A. Laurance, Collection Privée, Sparkling Rosé, France – £25.00
2010 Schramsberg, Rose, Napa Valley, Califorina, USA – £48.00

Happy Drinking

Chris Neeves
Beverages Manager

Warming Winter Reds

The bar at Donnington Valley Hotel

Big Bodied Warming Winter Reds

As the winter weather starts to draw in, with the nights getting darker and colder. The idea of snuggling into the sofa in front of a roaring fire with a nice bottle of red seems like an excellent idea. I’ve gathered four of my favourite red wines from around the globe which are perfect for just such an occasion. All full of flavour and body and perfect for keeping you warm on these cold nights. Three are available by the glass, but I think you will love them as much as I do, so why not treat yourself to a bottle next time you stop by to see us.

Alpha Estate, Xinomarvo Reserve Old Vines, Amyndeo, Greece – £49

A rich full bodied wine with a bouquet of smoky black fruits, strawberries, dark cherries, liquorice and spices. On the palate it has rich fruit of blackberries and plums, herbaceous and oak hints. Solid, velvety tannins and long aftertaste. This wine goes very well with red meats particularly a roast sirloin of beef.

Bodegas Santa Ana, Malbec Reserve, Mendoza, Argentina – £28

A powerful aromatic wine, showing concentrated stone fruit aromas, such as plums and prunes with a hint of spicy oak. Medium to full bodied with a stylish balance between dense black fruit flavours, fine tannins and judicious use of oak. Finishes firm and grippy. Simply perfect with a steak.

Pérez Cruz, Carmenere, Limited Edition, Maipo Alto, Chile – £35

Full bodied, with soft tannins. Complex and elegant with black fruits, spice and savoury notes. Ending in a smooth long finish. Try with red meat dishes with a rich mustard sauce.

Southern Right, Pinotage, Walker Bay, South Africa – £37

This is an excellent example of Pinotage with good structure and developed tannins where the soft wood flavours are complemented by berry fruits on the palate. An excellent pairing to game meats.

Chris Neeves

Summer wines at Donnington Valley Hotel

Wines by the glass at Donnington Valley Hotel

The sun is on its way

Well the summer months will soon be here, so I thought I would share with you what would be drinking sitting out in the sun when I get the time.


2010 Sugrue Pierre, Brut, South Downs, West Sussex, England

This is one of the best English if not best sparkling wine I have tasted and I am not the only one who thinks this. It has a fresh feel with aromas of apples and lemons, complex and well balanced flavours on the palate with crisp acidity. I just can not explain how good this wine is – it is exceptional.


2013 Domaine Gerovassiliou, Viognier, Epanomi, Greece

Full bodied with a rich creaminess. It exhibits a fragrance of peaches and pears. It has well balanced acidity with a long finish. As good as many Condrieu’s but at far lower price. I have one word for this wine “Fantastic”.


2012 Planeta, Syrah, IGT, Sicily, Italy

This wine has a light and attractive nose with notes of rose petals, pomegranate and strawberries. On the palate, the wine is silky smooth, light and fresh with no angularity and a beautiful finish.


2012 Kenton Vineyard, Estate Red, Devon, England

A medium bodied wine with aroma characters of blackcurrant and black cherries. Soft tannins. It has a medium length and the fruit lingers on the palate. I was pleasantly surprised by this wine.

So have a good summer and we will be waiting here ready to open one of these fantastic wines for you to enjoy.

Chris Neeves

Festive Wines

Everything in moderation

Well the festive period is well and truly over for another year and with all the new years resolutions, January is a month where many choose to reduce their alcohol intake. There is no reason why you should have a completely dry January but if you are watching your alcohol intake you may choose to select wines by the glass with your meal.

Some restaurants will only have a small selection of wines available by the glass but here we have a selection of over 50 including White, Red and Rosé, Champagne and Sparkling wines, Port and Dessert wine and even a few Sherries.

In this selection we have also included wines from countries you may not traditionally associate with wine production. For example; Greece, Thailand, India, Croatia and Turkey.

Our wines by the glass are available in five different measures: – 100ml (Port & Sherry), 125ml, 175ml, 250ml and a 500ml Carafe. So you can have as little or as much as you would like.

Another benefit to selecting your wines by the glass is the opportunity to match your wine with your food so that they compliment each other. Something that can be more tricky when choosing one bottle to go with your entire meal. If you would like help in selecting your wines to accompany your meal please do let us know and we will be happy to help.

So please have a look at our selection of wines by the glass and we hope to see you for a glass or two very soon.

Call to book your table by calling 01635 551199.

Chris Neeves
Beverages Manager

British Wines

“Time to Celebrate”

As if we needed any reason to celebrate all things British… We are enjoying a glorious spell of fantastic Summer weather and long may it continue. We have also had a good couple of months in the world of sport. Starting with Andy Murray’s historic win at Wimbledon and then Chris Froome winning the 100th edition of the Tour de France.

If that is not enough good news for you, this week also saw the arrival of possibly the most talked about baby of the year. The Duke and Duchess welcomed their first child, Prince George of Cambridge.

With all these positive things happening, surely there can’t be a better time to celebrate and what better way to do this than by enjoying some of our home grown products.

We’ve listed a few of our favourites on our wine list. So next time you visit why not sample a glass or two.

2005 Danebury Vineyards, Cossack, Brut , Hampshire, England £39.00
A very fine and delicate mousse, with notes of brioche and a refreshing citrus finish. A classically structured wine that lasts and lasts on the palate.

2008 Danebury Vineyards, Schönburger, Hampshire, England £30.00
Well perfumed, citrus and floral bouquet. An array of enticing flavours, mingled with alluring aromatic characters. Soft, silky and seamless, the palate is well balanced, delicate with good length and a clean finish.

2008 Danebury Vineyards, Madeleine Angevine, Hampshire, England £29.00
Big flowery aromas and flavours of citrus, melon and pear. Finished bone dry, with fresh crisp acidity.

2010 Danebury Vineyards, Reserve, Hampshire, England £35.00
This wine is blend of all the grape varieties Danebury grow (Schönburger, Madelenie Angevine, Auxerrois Blanc and Rulander). The resulting wine is dry and complex with good minerality, with delicate floral and tropical fruit flavours combining to produce a well rounded wine.

2008 Ridgeview, Grosvenor, Blanc de Blancs, Sussex, England £59.00
A delicate pale gold with silvery highlights. Persistent bubbles giving an exceptional mousse. The bouquet is subtle with a suggestion of honey and brioche. The palate has a firm attack which makes this wine truly refreshing, with citrus and white tropical fruits in abundance. A beautifully balanced finish that lingers. This is a very good example of English Sparkling wine.

To make your reservation in our WinePress restaurant
please call us on 01635 551199.

We look forward to welcoming you.

Chris Neeves
Head Sommelier

The Vertical

The Vertical.

A vertical wine tasting is when you have the opportunity to taste the same wine from different vintages. Wines produced in different years can vary a great deal usually down to the different climate conditions during that year.

Usually you don’t get the opportunity to experience these different wines side by side which is why I’m putting together this new section of the wine list.

Wines in this section will be priced by the bottle so you will have the chance to experience the differences between different vintages of the same wine as you enjoy your meal in our WinePress Restaurant.

I had the pleasure to taste a few different vintages of the Morgenster Estate wines from South Africa recently. The wines are made from a blend of Cabernet sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot in different percentages and blends for the different vintages.

I was very impressed with them and I wanted to share them with you, which is this inspiration behind creating this new section on the wine list. There are only 120 cases of the vertical tasting collection being distributed worldwide and so we are very lucky to have this at Donnington Valley.

At the moment it’s a work in progress, but keep an eye out for this and other new additions to our list as we continue to search out the best wines from around the globe.

Chris Neeves
Head Sommelier