“Grape Britain.” Gold medals for British rosés at the International Wine Challenge. An English white wine costing about $12 served at a Royal Wedding reception. Can any of this be true?
Frazer Thompson, our host at Sissinghurst Castle Farmhouse, is also the award-winning English Wines Group managing director at Chapel Down Winery in Kent. I was eager to try their wine so we made a visit to the winery. As I soon found out, Chapel Down is the largest premium wine producer in England, and I was not expecting the sophistication and quality that we found at Chapel Down just outside of tiny Tenterden.
The winery itself is unpretentious but beautiful. Its multi-use property sports a wine tasting room that is more like a gourmet store, a lovely English garden where you can have your wedding, and of course, row upon row of grapevines on the 25 acre property. Although I’m not an expert on winery equipment, its stainless steel tanks looked pretty modern and impressive.
I tasted several of their current wines and brought some back to the bed and breakfast to share with friends — or not. The award-winning sparkling Vintage Rosé Brut lived up to its hype and was well-priced at £24.99. Husband rummaged through all of the bins to find his favorite, Chapel Down’s own Curious Brew, Admiral Porter. He loved it.
Meanwhile, back at the farmhouse, we talked to one of the couples who were staying in the B&B for an anniversary getaway. They had made reservations at the restaurant at the winery for their celebration and were quite excited about experiencing this little gem. The restaurant is named after its Michelin-starred chef, Richard Phillips. We decided that we would take our friends from Cirencester to the restaurant and hoped for the best.
Apparently having Frazer’s name attached to our reservation worked magic, because were seated at the best table in the room and were served with skill and sensitivity. We ordered the chef’s tasting menu and the wines chosen to go with each course. It was pricey, but worth every pound.
Our meal was extraordinary and presented creatively. All in all, it was a magical evening. One could even say it was a meal fit for a prince and princess.
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