Monday, 7 September 2015

Stately Home and a Vineyard

Bank Holiday weekend offered a rare opportunity in Nuneaton - Arbury Hall (our stately home) was open to the public. The house on the Arbury Estate is the home of James FitzRoy Newdegate, the 4th Viscount Daventry, his wife Georgia and their three children, Humphrey, Hester and Sophia. The house is open just four times a year - Bank Holiday weekends. I visited when I was very young but as Nick had never been we decided to take the opportunity this August.

Arbury Hall (entrance view)
Front of Arbury Hall
Arbury Hall is an outstanding example of the Gothic Revival style and it's amazing ceilings are prime examples of this style. The family chapel, completed in 1678 has an intricate plasterwork ceiling costing the grand sum of £39, but is simple in comparison to the grand Saloon ceiling which is fan-vaulted and copied from the Henry VII Chapel in Westminster Abbey.

As well as being a stunning stately home Arbury is also famous for being used in many of George Eliot's novels. Mary Ann Evans (George Eliot was her pen name as women could not publish works) lived on the estate as her father was the estate agent. Cheverel Manor in Scenes of a Clerical Life is Arbury Hall and George Eliot describes it as 'growing from ugliness into beauty' a description derived from the house's transformation.

The gardens are as stunning as the house - so tranquil and peaceful. The best time to visit is spring or early summer when all the rhododendrons are in flower.

The Round Towers (gateway to Arbury Estate)
Garden Gate
The wing where the family now live
Stable Block which now houses the cafe
Stone Gateway
Arbury Hall entrance
Hidden pathway
Yesterday we moved even further back in time as we visited Wroxeter, a roman city just outside Shrewsbury. It was featured in a tv show a few years ago when they rebuilt a Roman Villa using methods and tools as the Romans did.

Rebuilt Roman Villa

Roman remains
Wroxeter Vineyard is just outside the city boundaries and produces 17,000 bottles a year. The wine tour started with complimentary tea and coffee in a bright airy dinning room with Martin (Wroxeter wine maker) explaining some of the Roman history of the city.

The tour continued at the top of the vineyard amongst the vines, namely Madeline Angevine. Martin's passion and knowledge (his father planted the vineyard and he has always worked on the land) was evident in his explanation of planting, pruning and picking. Moving nearer the buildings Martin described how he used nature to tell when the grapes are ready to pick - by checking the badger droppings!!
Madeline Aveline
Growing nicely
Rows of vines with the Villa in the distance 
Moving into the production area Martin explained how the press worked and the difference in making red and white wines, hence the various vats. Finally we moved back into the dinning room and the tasting began. We tasted five wines from the Wroxeter Range:

Noble Roman: a crystal clear very pale white wine with a light slightly floral nose with a hint of citrus. A medium bodied wine leaving a long finish - neither too sweet or to dry this wine could accompany most light dishes.

Regner: An even paler white in the colour, very clear with a nose of floral perfume. A little dryer with a shorter length to it's finish. A crisp wine suited to fish dishes.

Shropshire Gold: A medium bodied wine slightly sweeter than the first two. A light nose of grapefruit and a soft citrus palate with a touch of pear. A wine suited to drinking unaccompanied or as an aperitif.

Emily Rose: This wine was named after Martin's daughter and has a light strawberry colour with a sparkly hue. A dry finish with slight tannins - soft fruit flavours making this an easy drinking rose.

Shropshire Red: A very cherry red in colour, the highest alcohol content with a nose of cherry and slight oak. Fairly light in body, some tannin but with more fruit and a smoothness to its finish.

The Tour and Tasting was full of information about wine and the surrounding area. Our day continued as we had also booked lunch, a super game pie with new potatoes, salad and coleslaw followed by either carrot cake or blackforest gateau. With lunch we had two more wine tastings:

Roman Red: A deep claret colour with a redcurrant and hedgerow nose. It was a dry wine with plenty of redcurrants, a little tannic with a medium length to its finish.

Madeline Angevine: A white wine with a golden yellow colour and a quince nose. A lovely crisp wine with an apply palate. Nice and crisp with a medium finish, this was my favourite wine.

Our complimentary wine to bring home.
A super day - we have not actually toured a vineyard before, either in France or here in the UK. We have tasted wine at vineyards and toured distilleries but not vineyards. Wroxeter Vineyard is in a super location, full of history and produces some lovely wine.

1 comment:

  1. Arbury Hall looks very grand, I've never heard of it before.
    Nice sunny weather for your vineyard tour.


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