When Nyetimber invite Ben and I to something, it’s always an easy YES. This year, they kindly had us as their guests at The Cheltenham Festival. Then after lockdown, we received an incredible invitation to see their Summer House at Hampton Manor. Sadly, the Summer House has now finished, but I wanted to tell you about our fabulous experience regardless! Nyetimber continue to supply the Manor with their delicious Sparkling Wines and serve them on The Nyetimber Courtyard which gets changed up each season.
Hampton Manor was built in 1855 as the home of the Peel Family. The Hill family bought it in 2008 and it subsequently went under a full refurbishment programme. The Country House is now transformed into a hotel with a twist. With a number of suites and rooms to choose from, guests are encouraged to take part in The Great British Staycation. We happened to join for one of these incredible weekends. Described on the website as a ‘3 day adventure for the intrepid foodie’, it really was so much more than that.
We pulled up to the Manor quite late due to horrific traffic on the motorways, but just in time for a quick tour and to get changed ready for dinner and drinks. We sipped our drinks, while playing a vintage Bar Billiards, then walked down to dinner at Smoke Restaurant. Smoke is nestled within the Walled Garden, built way back in 1891. The restaurant is split between the old furnace house and the gorgeous old Victorian Greenhouses. We got cosy in the Greenhouse and waited for our food.
Beetroot three ways with goats cheese for starter, topped with garden leaves. One pickled beetroot, one slow cooked and one charred beetroot leaf with the creamiest goats cheese. Sourdough and proper country butter for the short wait between starter and main.
Main was unbelievable. We were both completely blown away at the flavours that could be found within the vegetables. The showstopper was a slow-cooked celeriac, that melted in the mouth. Served with dijon mustard potatoes, black truffle mayo and hispi crispy cabbage with crispy capers and salsa verde.
Pudding was a classic apple pie with a dollop of clotted cream.
When we’d finished all our delicious dishes, we were handed sticks, marshmallows and chocolate biscuits along with blankets and lead out to the fire pits.
Feeling totally exhausted from such a lovely first evening, we made our way back to the room.
The next morning we headed down to the Nyetimber Summer House for breakfast. Decked out in beautiful florals, in the Orangery, with strawberry plants on every table and Sparkling Wine bottles nestled amongst the flowers. We ordered pastries, granola and fresh fruit to share with hot cups of tea and coffee.
Refreshed, it was time to explore the grounds and the Manor. We walked through endless incredible rooms, noting where we would be dining later and getting lost in the beautiful land surrounding the hotel.
We threw ourselves onto the lawn for an hour, bathing in the warm, late summer sun. Rising only when we realised it was nearly time to pick up our picnic. Switching outfits, we found ourselves back in the Nyetimber Summer House ready for our first sparkling wine of the staycation!
With the Nyetimber Estate dating right back to 1086 (and mentioned in the Domesday Book!) the wine itself is like sipping a little piece of crisp sparkling British summer sunshine. Of course, it can be enjoyed at any time of year, but it really comes alive with the rich flavours of summer. The perfect accompaniment then, for a glorious picnic enjoyed on the lawns of the Manor. We chose my favourite; a bottle of English Sparkling Rosé. The day disappeared into a blur of British clichés. Most of the other guests had chosen the picnic lunch too and everyone had chosen their particular spot for the day. Couples played croquet, reclined in deck chairs and soaked up the glorious weather. All with a glass of Nyetimber in hand.
The afternoon’s activity was a wine tasting back in Smoke Restaurant. All socially distanced and done in a Covid safe way. Hosted by James Hill, we tasted an array of delicious wines and soaked up his passion and knowledge. We tried some incredible organic wines and learnt a lot about how the quality of our top soil affects the food we eat. Spoiler – it’s reducing in quality at an alarming rate, but that’s for another discussion. After the wine tasting, we were treated to a tour of the kitchen gardens and the brand new courtyard rooms being built in the old stables.
With one final change of the day, it was time to get ready for dinner. I ordered my ‘drink of the trip’ to enjoy on the terrace as the sun set behind us. A sparkling pineapple martini (made with Vodka) and topped with the Nyetimber Classic Cuvee.
Dinner that night acted as a piece of theatre. Held in Peel’s Restaurant, we were lucky enough to have a table in the window to watch the light change from day to night and the candlelight glow flicker in reflection from the glass.
A symphony of dishes followed a glass of the Nyetimber 1086 Prestige Cuvee and an appetiser of Oyster, cucumber and borage.
We decided on the 6 course menu and Ben also had the wine pairings. I had the fish where it was mentioned on the non-vegetarian menu. As I knew we were getting real local, quality dishes.
We started with Creamed Cabbage.
Potato with herb butter and garden herbs.
Onion with nasturtiums and puffed rice.
Pumpkin with salsify, fennel, honey and mustard and a Monkfish version for me.
Raspberries, cream and basil, topped with chocolate.
Our final dish was a little chocolate plate with sherry and vanilla.
Exhausted after the most incredible day filled with activities, food and sunshine we headed straight to bed. I think you can always judge a place by how difficult it is to leave the next day. Needless to say, ours was the last car in the carpark after filling up on one last long lazy breakfast and stroll through the grounds.
Nyetimber are always ahead of the game when it comes to knowing what the next big thing is in the UK, but I really think they’ve hit upon a perfect partnership with Hampton Manor. The values of each of the brands are so aligned and I really think we’re going to see amazing things from both of them in the coming years.