"...mouth-watering platter of churros with dark chocolate dipping sauce and a molten chocolate soufflé accompanied a delicious honeyed Moscatel"
Staying at The Royal is always a wonderful treat - the bedrooms are charming and supremely comfortable, the staff go out of their way to be of service, and an added bonus for us is that the hotel is dog-friendly too! Not only could our four-legged friend stay with us, but a dog bowl had very sweetly been put in our room for him, complete with a bottle of Wight Crystal spring water - a thoughtful touch, and much appreciated. During our stay, I came to realise that little details like this are typical of The Royal’s efforts to ensure its guests feel completely at home and thoroughly spoiled.
On this occasion, my husband and I were staying at The Royal to attend their Gourmet Wine Weekend. Hosted by Eurovine’s knowledgable Tim Flint, the Friday evening was a sensory tour through Spain’s vineyards, accompanied by a six-course feast of popular Spanish dishes.
We began the wine-tasting with a pale pink Cava Rosato from the Penedès region. This traditional Spanish fizz was smoother than an Italian prosecco, and fruiter than French champagne or crémant. Tim pointed out that as prosecco prices are on the rise, cava’s popularity will increase over the next year, so it was good to taste this superlative example.
A refreshingly dry aperitif (Txakoli de Getaria) followed - a pale-yellow white wine with just a hint of sparkle. Then we were treated to a Manzanilla sherry, which tasted lighter and crisper than a Fino, with a mellow apple-like flavour. As we sipped these Spanish delights, Tim regaled us with tales of his recent travels, hunting down the finest wines from boutique vineyards, cellars and family businesses across Spain. I can certainly think of worse ways to spend the winter months! But joking aside, it was a treat to be introduced to so many Spanish wine varieties that I was previously unfamiliar with, and the evening proved to be as educational as it was entertaining.
An exotic, floral white (Capricho Val de Paxarinas) accompanied glistening bowls of seafood paella, then Tim chose an organic Rioja Tempranillo to pair with the pork belly, chorizo and white bean cassoulet. A complex Tempranillo/Merlot/Cabernet blend from Castell del Remei (one of the great Catalonian wine producers) followed, with a delicious chocolatey vanilla aroma that perfectly complemented the lemon and almond tart we were served.
Before moving on to the dessert wine, we enjoyed the most expensive wine of the night, a Valsotillo Crianza 2014, from a family of wine producers who have tended vineyards in Ribera del Duero for 400 years. A mouth-watering platter of churros with dark chocolate dipping sauce and a molten chocolate soufflé accompanied a delicious honeyed Moscatel. And finally, we somehow managed to find space for a taste from the laden cheeseboard.
After such a fascinating and delicious evening, we were sorry not to be able to stay for the following evening’s tasting of Italian wines. But at least we can look forward to the Gastronomic Weekend at the end of March, when we shall visit some of the Isle of Wight’s finest food producers, before retreating to the luxurious comfort of The Royal once again. I might just have worked up an appetite by then…
"Staying at The Royal is always a wonderful treat"
Pets: Dogs are permitted in selected room types only by prior arrangement and a nightly charge will be made.