More English wine
After judging yesterday's SWVA awards, I was joined by Fiona and younger son and we stayed the night at the Cottage in the Wood, near Malvern. It's a hotel in a gorgeous natural setting, nestled into the side of the Malvern Hills with stunning views.
We were joined for dinner by Fiona's aunt, who lives locally, and it lovely to see her again. But unfortunately the much-anticipated meal disappointed. Both my starter and main tasted like they had been plated out and then reheated - thus the red onion and goats cheese tart tasted overly sweet and the pastry had disintegrated, and the seabass (over what was once a nice risotto) simply tasted tired and a bit oily. At the prices charged (£10 starters, £20 mains) the food should be top notch.
It's a tragedy, because given the natural setting, the friendly service and the extensive, well-priced wine list (with some mouthwatering, affordable older Bordeaux and Burgundy), this could have been a special destination. As it is, I can't recommend it, unless the kitchen was having an unusually bad day. Because I had to drive later, we had just a single bottle of wine with dinner - a Loimer Gruner Veltliner from Austria's Kamptal (£22) which was very good. Not enough to take away the disappointment of the tired food, though.
Then it was off to Coddington Vineyard, for a vineyard visit with the SWVA crowd (top image). It's an immaculate 3 acre vineyard owned by Denis and Ann Savage, planted with Bacchus, Ortega and Pinot Gris. After this we headed over to Brockbury Hall (above) for the lunch and awards ceremony. There was a chance to taste the remainder of the wines from yesterday's competition, this time unmasked, and after lunch as part of the official proceedings, I was asked to give a short summary of how the wines had shaped up the previous day. It was great to meet so many producers, ranging from hobbyists with a few vines to reasonably serious commercial concerns. The future of English wine, despite this damp and miserable 2008 growing season, looks very bright indeed.