EA: You’re the wine man at Rockliffe Hall. What can you tell us about the resort’s wine offering?
DJ: I have created a uniform wine list for the Clubhouse and The Brasserie that showcase the different food offerings in both restaurants. This helps with continuity for the guest’s visit too as you can have a glass of wine at one place and then head for dinner at the other and still enjoy the same wine.
The offering in The Orangery is very different. This is the wine list where I showcase everything from the classics to special parcel wines, unearthed from small vineyards with marvellous quality and more often than not, that are exclusive to Rockliffe Hall.
EA: How can guests join you on the Rockliffe wine journey?
DJ: I can’t recommend strongly enough a visit to our fabulous wine cellar for an intimate tasting, surrounded by bottles of rare wines. After this tutored and relaxed tasting it is time to go up to The Orangery and indulge in the tasting menu by Richard Allen, with the accompaniment of my ‘weird and wonderful’ wine flight.
EA: We’re looking forward to the English Sparkling Wines Meet the Producer Wine Dinner with Ulrich Hoffman. What can we expect from the event?
DJ: You can expect to taste some extraordinary sparkling wines that even surprised me with their texture and flavours. And in Ulrich we have a fantastic host who will gently take us on a journey of discovery. That, paired with Richard’s special menu for the evening, pure heaven!
EA: Why are English sparkling wines so attractive in the current climate?
DJ: The whole wine industry in England has now become professional and renowned. Gone are the days of the happy-go-lucky way of doing wines. Our sparkling wine producers are now serious contenders to the Champagne region in terms of quality and diversity.
EA: Which foods can be perfectly paired with sparkling wines?
DJ: I have to say, it’s all to do with the individual palate, but a bowl of home-grown strawberries is a good start. Or perhaps a nice pan fried sole with langoustines for a Blanc de Blanc. Grilled salmon with greens for the rosé, with buttered and grilled asparagus.
EA: Your favourite wine region?
DJ: Such a hard question! I have had to think long and hard about this one and have changed my mind several times to be honest, but in the end, I have to say (here comes my classic training though I think) Burgundy. This little region has a wonderful diversity of wines to offer, both on the red and the white side.
EA: Tell us about your best vineyard trip?
DJ: It has to be my week with Catena Zapata in Mendoza, Argentina. It was summer and very hot; the company was fantastic. The large amount of new knowledge I came away with was staggering. And the wines… the wines we tried were exceptional. Then again, I am shortly embarking on a week’s journey into South Africa’s wine region, so I might change my mind.
EA: Which wine would you order from the Rockliffe menu?
DJ: I would definitely go for any of the small parcel wines I have on offer. To discover a new wine/grape variety, is for me, absolutely fantastic. Like Luis Zeabra’s Xisto Ilimitardo from Douro in Portugal. Marvellous!
EA: What’s in your wine rack at home?
DJ: The wine rack at home is more like a short storage space. Not many bottles last a long time. All in the name of research, of course! I do have an Opus One and a 1970 Baron de Sigognac, that I won’t touch, yet.
Don’t miss Daniel’s Meet the Producer English Sparkling Wine Dinner, hosted by producer, Ulrich Hoffman of Hoffman & Rathbone. For more information and to book tickets, visit: rockliffehall.com.