Category 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.

Wine Tasting and Cocktail Making

Are you are looking for something a little different to reward your delegates with after a hard day’s work? Why not test our experts and try a wine tasting session before dinner? Julie Weston, our Events Manager, explains more.


Blind tasting is always a fun way to challenge your taste buds, (don’t worry, no blindfolds are used). The wine is poured before you arrive to ensure there will be no cheating.

Throughout the session, our knowledgeable sommelier will give you a lesson in how to taste wine, and pass on lots of interesting facts about grape varieties and regions to wet your appetite for the tasting. And possibly help you determine their origin.

If you fancy yourself as a budding Tom Cruise, we could arrange a cocktail making master class, with plenty of testing and even the opportunity to mix your own creation!

Don’t have too much fun, in case there is a second day of concentration required!

Ask our conference experts about adding on something different to your residential conference, or for their team building ideas.

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.

Australian Wines

Wines at Donnington ValleyMost people will have tried an Australian wine at some point I’m sure. This country has the reputation for producing exclusively large chardonnays and big bodied shiraz. Some may even be surprised to learn there are many different styles of wine available for you to enjoy from this wine producing country.

For example I have found one producer that I particularly like who are creating wines in a range of styles. That producer is Larry Cherubino.

Larry Cherubino’s wines have set a new style benchmark for Australian wines. These elegant, beautifully crafted, serious, yet amazingly drinkable wines are the pinnacle of cooler climate Western Australia.

James Halliday, the undisputed authority on Australian wine, has inundated the winery with honours since its inception in 2005. He named the winery as one of the country’s ‘Ten Best New Wineries’ in the 2010 Australian Wine Companion, and awarded it the prestigious ‘Winery of the Year’ title in 2011. Also in the 2013 edition Cherubino is the highest rated producer since the inception of Halliday’s annual review in 1986. All 31 wines submitted were award more than 90 points while 19 scored over 94 points – an unprecedented achievement in a country of stellar wineries!

Larry’s philosophy is simple. By spending most of the year focussing on the vineyards and in paying close attention to the management of the vines and of course picking at the right time he can ensure that only the best grapes make it to the bottle.
Allowing him to create everything from delicate whites to big reds of exceptional class and finesse.

Larry Cherubino wines available at Donnington Valley:


Larry Cherubino, Ad Hoc, Hen & Chicken, Chardonnay, Pemberton, W.Australia – £36

This wine shows delicious notes of melon, citrus and apple fruit enhanced by a refreshing streak of minerality. A generous palate with a creamy texture is balanced by a vibrant acidity, giving this wine a long, lingering finish. The Hen and Chicken refers to a natural unevenness in ripeness of the grapes called millerandage and gives this wine its fabulous balance.

Larry Cherubino, Ad Hoc, Wallflower, Riesling, Westerern Australia – £37

Vibrant lemon and lime fruit flavours with subtle notes of minerality. The wine is softly textured with a refreshing acidity and a long, persistent finish. An excellent accompaniment to shellfish or as an aperitif. A wine that marries the heady aromas of Australia with a delicacy and balance from this cool climate region.

Larry Cherubino, Cherubino, Sauvignon Blanc, Pemberton, W.Australia – £65

A complex, fruity wine with a hint of oak adding great texture to the fruit. A good intensity and balance of ripe citrus and tropical notes in the wine. It has a delicate acidity and good length. Intriguing and restrained, not your typical Sauvignon Blanc.


Larry Cherubino, Cruel Mistress, Pinot Noir, Westerern Australia – £37

A wine with a pale ruby hue and sweet clove and black cherry aromas. A light Pinot with sweet spice, smoky, leather and black plum flavours on the palate, all beautifully balanced. A delicious and superbly balanced wine- the name Cruel Mistress refers to Pinot Noir’s temperamental nature!

Larry Cherubino, The Yard, Acacia Vineyard, Shiraz, Frakland River, W.Australia – £47

A complex wine which displays all of the hallmarks of the Great Southern region of WA and in particular the Frankland River region. Aromatic spice and blueberry fruit notes carry through to the softly textured palate which has ample, soft tannins. The balance and structure of this wine make it an excellent choice with lamb and even spicy dishes.

Larry Cherubino, Margaret River, Cabernet Sauvignon, Westerern Australia – £91

Dark and inky in the glass, which leads to a lifted aromatic nose of cassis and cigar box cedar. Gentle oak support allows the fully ripe dark fruit to shine on the palate, and powerful. There is great persistence of flavour, complexity and ample fine tannins for structure. The wine – although medium bodied, has depth, power and gentleness. The finish is long and persistent.

I look forward to welcoming you this summer and hope you take the opportunity to sample one or maybe even two of these exceptional wines.

Chris Neeves

Beverages Manager

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

Matching wines with pumpkin

Rosé Wines by the glass

Matching wines with pumpkin

As Halloween approaches and talk of pumpkin carving is in the air,
I thought I would recommend some autumnal wines to match our Head Chef, Kelvin’s pumpkin dishes on his recent blog to create a perfect combination of flavours.

2012 Weingut Rabl, Grüner Veltliner, ‘Spiegel’, Kamptal, Austria : £31

Gruner Veltliner can be described as the signature grape of Austria. This wine with its citrus notes of tangerine and pink grapefruit is riper with a fuller texture than some. The warm days and cool nights produce wines which are succulent and refreshing. Perfect for cutting through the creamy flavours of a pumpkin risotto for example.

2012 Côte de Brouilly, Cuvée Mélanie, Daniel Bouland, Beaujolais, France : £41 

A red wine option is the Brouilly Bouland. With aromas of red fruits, this is a lighter style of red wine. The low tannins and balanced acidity makes this wine great for early consumption.

2012 Andrew Quady, Essensia Orange Muscat, Madera, California, USA : £271/2bt

For a sweet dish such as pumpkin pie try the Andrew Quady Orange Muscat. Quady’s Essensia is lightly fortified to 15% alcohol and aged in barrels for about 3 months. This wine’s balanced acidity and orange aroma provide more of a fresh fruit feel rather then the traditional sticky dessert wine many are accustomed to.

To taste these delicious wines for yourselves, visit us at Donnington Valley Hotel where they are all available in our WinePress Restaurant or if you are looking for something a little bit different why not come along to our Greek Wine dinner on the 1st of November, The Feast of Dionysus, to experience the taste of a variety of Greek wines.


Chris Neeves
Beverages Manager

To book your table, please call us on 01635 551199 or visit

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