Original version of this appeared on the-buyer.net.
On entering the bar, the first thing you notice is wine bottles and wine paraphernalia everywhere. You can rest assured that you’ll find fascinating wines aplenty. Not only are the wines brilliant and very well chosen, but they’re also presented in an approachable manner that makes it easy to choose.
A funky list on one page, with subheadings like “Textured and Mineral”, “Juicy, Bright and Structured” and “Leftfield” makes wine easy to choose and categorise.
This is what we need more of in the London wine sector; a way to educate the consumer in a creative manner that promotes wine. Not to mention very good price points too – knowing some of the wines quite well, I noted the relatively small mark-up, something that finally is being seen more in London.
I began with a glass of the Stay Brave, Baby Bandito 2015 from Testalonga, Swartland. Admittedly I already know this wine well, as I am a huge fan of Craig Hawkins’ wines. I buy it round the corner from where I live in Dvine Cellars. For any bar or restaurant seeking an orange wine, this should be on your list. Full of rich, ripe peach, apricot and spicy notes, with a signature bitter tannin zing of orange peel, this Chenin Blanc skin contact is a powerful kicker of an orange wine with 21 day maceration. The vines are 44 years old; it’s a real gem.
I also hadn’t realised it was only produced for the UK market (in very small amounts) so I’ll be off to get more of it before everyone else catches on…
Next I opted for the Paulatim, Les Deux Terres 2014 Chardonnay from the Ardèche, a grape that I feel thrives in this region. I wasn’t disappointed. An unusual approach (natural – unfiltered – hence cloudy) wine but with gorgeous body, savoury nuttiness with indulgent fatness of ripe stone fruits but that string of acidity keeping it fresh and approachable.
Meanwhile, we enjoyed a selection of the tapas selection; a fresh squid dish that tasted like it was straight out of the sea, the ham and spinach croquetas and fresh crabmeat with avocado. I thoroughly recommend both these wines to pair with this; they’re both weighty, so can support the creamy ham croquetas, whereas the freshness of the Chardonnay, and tanginess of the orange wine compliment the equally fresh flavours of the crab and squid.
I opted for the gnocchi for my main. I’m a big fan of gnocchi when it is done well; here I was in capable hands. My penchant for all wonderful French funghi is what swayed me, and the girolles lived up to their expectation of mushroom-y goodness.
To pair, I chose the Cartology from Alheit Vineyards, 2014. A self-confessed South Africa wine discoverer at any possible time, this bush vine wine is certainly at the top of my recent discoveries. From exceptional and rare sites, it is unfined and unfiltered. This wine is all about the vineyard with as little intervention as possible. It’s very clean and precise with zesty notes of orange, peach, and excellent acidity, making it the ideal match for a creamy dish. 89% Chenin Blanc and 11% Semillon.
Finally, we had the Sauternes (Château Filhot) with a cheese selection. A staple classic; the Sauternes was everything I expected it to be; the botrytis orange peel note with quince fruit aromas.
I eyed up the spoonful of 2003 Essencia on the dessert wine menu (£10 for one spoonful), perhaps next time…