Category Archives: Wine bars and restaurants

Mengoba at Gastroteca de Santiago

This marked the conclusion of a wine trip. Our theme was three wine regions in old Castilla. But we also had some occasional wines from other areas.

The Gastroteca is a wine bar, or restaurant, in a small chain of restaurants and a shop. It’s run by a handful of sommeliers. Tabernero and Matritum are other Madrid wine bars in the chain, and the one with special responsabililty for this place is Juan Carlos Ramos. The restaurant is located on the Plazuela de Santiago, close to the royal palace, and not far from the central tourist spot Puerta del Sol.

The Gastroteca de Santiago is a small restaurant, or wine bar, with only 16 chairs. It has a creative menu that could be described as contemporary Spanish, and the dishes are delivered cleverly and at very reasonable prices. The wine list is quite extensive with a focus on what’s happening in Spain at the moment, and with a nod to classic European regions as well, most of all Burgundy, Rhône and Champagne.

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We had a wonderful unfiltered fino Arroyuelo from producer Primitivo Collantes, a verdejo from Rueda (Tinita 2014 from Soto y Manrique), 25% of it with fermentation and 4 months lees-ageing in oak. Then we chose the unique Monastel from Rioja’s Juan Carlos Sancha (which we will present in a later post).

20171016_103505 Enjoying a good red at the Gastroteca

We closed our session with a wonderful wine from Gregory Pérez of Bierzo, the Castilian region to the north-west bordering Galicia. Gregory, originally from Bordeaux, fell in love with Bierzo, and at a time he worked with Mariano García (of Vega Sicilia fame) at Luna Beberide, another Bierzo winery. He works very traditionally, with natural methods, including native yeasts, very low sulphur – and with a horse. Mengoba is a series of wines, the name made up of the first letters of the local varieties mencía, godello and valenciana with a “b”).

This Mengoba is made from mencía 80%, and the rest garnacha tintorera, also known as the Portuguese alicante bouschet. The mencía is sourced partly from a clone that Gregory revived in Espanillo, at 700-850 meters with mixed soils (80 year old vines) and the rest from 550 meters at Valtuille (30 year old). It stayed 6 months on lees in big foudres, partly with whole clusters. Then in 5.000 liters in the foudres for almost 10 months.

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Mengoba 2015 (Gregory Pérez)

Dark red. Aromas of dark fruit, ink, and plums, a little chocolate. Full on the palate, young tannins and good acidity. With a couple of years more it will probably have reached its full potential, with everything integrated and still packed with lively fruit.

Price: Medium

 

 

Antidote of London

You might think that Antidote could have something to do with the Remedy restaurant, about which I wrote a few months ago, at least their names could suggest so. But no. They have a few things in common though, they both offer a cure against depressive tendencies, and they offer well-prepared bites, and a lot of good, healthy wines – all worked organically, many biodynamically in the vineyard.

They rely on market catch, and the menu changes often. The food is quite simple, but well made, and often with both a modern touch and inspired by several corners of the world. The wine list is quite extensive, and there is a good selection of wines by the glass. They say that the wines come largely from France. That’s true, but I have spotted wines from other European countries like Italy, Spain and Slovenia, an occational one from Greece, and outside Europe too, such as Australia.

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I visited this cosy Soho locale twice in August, the first time with my daughter who is vegan, and they were very helpful, and gladly made some creative twists. Second time was the day after, when I had some more wines and a couple more bites.

Along with their “Heritage Tomato” dish (with lemon, lovage parsley and goat’s curd) I had Ch. la Coste “Pentes Douces 2014 (Ch. la Coste), a provencal blend of vermentino and sauvignon blanc: light in colour, a rich aroma with hints of herbs, and a slightly warm touch in the aftertaste. With next bite, Spring Onions with egg yolk, comté cheese and buckwheat, I tried Clef de Sol 2014 (La Grange Tiphaine) from Montlois sur Loire, a light, fruity, mineral chenin blanc, with a lot of acidity wrapped in super fruit. Following this with the same dish I tried what turned out to be one of the stars of the evening, Maupiti 2014 (Clos de l’Elu), a light red wine from Anjou, also in the Loire. This one is made from gamay and cabernet franc. It shows lots of red berries, it’s fresh and fruity, mellow in the mouth and just delicious drinking.

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La Poudre d’Escampette 2014 (from winery Le Casot des Mailloles) is a dry red wine from Banyuls, quite unusual for the area’s image as a dessert wine region. It’s made from 120 year old grenache and 80 year old carignan vines. An unpasturized camembert from Normandie was perfectly matched with the (to a certain extent volatile) acidity of the high-hill wine. A good match was also the ossau-iraty, a sheep’s milk cheese from French Basque Country.

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An unusual wine to round off maybe, but excellent there and then, was I Clivi RBL 2014, a biodynamically farmed, native yeast spumante brut nature from the grape known as ribolla gialla in Friuli, Italy, close to the Slovenian border. It was dry, but rounded off, fruity, a little carbonic-mineral, and nice for washing away what might remain of the fat from the cheeses.

Pulling the Cork in Bilbao

You find the Cork bar in Pozas, a popular section of downtown Bilbao. It is both a pintxos (Basque tapas) bar, and a wine bar that concentrates on good wines, most often organic and very natural, both local and national, and the by-the-glass menu is written on a cardboard. You have to stand, and it’s easy to find nice and educated (if that’s what you want) people to talk to. There is no TV blasting, if there is one at all.

There is a lot of cork and wood in the interior, almost resembling a bodega building.

20160129_212445 Jonathan García

Jonathan García (Basque sommelier champion of 2011) is running the place with a lot of passion and dedication, and his mother is responsible for the many delicious, well-prepared bites. One is the house pintxos, empanada casera de bonito, empanadas with the bonito fish. There are many cheeses and hams to choose from too. I visited one busy January night.

20160129_211827 Mónica operating a Coravin

From the by-the-glass offer I chose Blan. 5.7 2014, a fruity and grapey orange wine made from the macabeo grape by Celler Jordi Llorens in the Barcelona province. To accompany this wine Jonathan picked a pintxo of bacalao and tomato with browned onion and some herbs.

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Among the rest were the pure and flowery La Bruja Avería 2014 (Comando G), a favourite from the Gredos mountains, a wonderful example of Mallorcan Château Paquita, (Sistema Vinari), and the Mas de Gegant 2013 of Joan Ramón Escoda in Conca de Barberà, Catalunya

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On the house, an unfortified “sherry” Ube 2013. This is one of the many interesting projects from these “fortified quarters”. This is a great wine from the Las Vegas vineyard (part of the Carrascal pago) with albariza soil near Sanlucar, made of three different clones of palomino (mostly palomino fino 73%). It’s chalky-mineral, has a touch of petrol and a rich, powerful palate. It’s fermented in the botas (sherry barrels), clocking in at 11% alcohol.

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Yes, we are in the Basque Country. But no, there are no stars here. Readers will have noticed that I couldn’t care less. Here there is an ample selection of wines, the bites are good, the waiters have knowledge about them and a personal touch.

A Lazio delight in London

This week’s wine was enjoyed at Soho’s DuckSoup restaurant (in the same block as Ronnie Scott’s famous jazz bar), that has a focus on natural wine and simple but tasty dishes inspired from anywhere. Music lovers will find a home here too, as they have a collection of vinyl records for varied tastes.

20160811_173724-1 The DuckSoup cookbook displayed

Anyway, the wine is a elegant and fruity red carbonic maceration wine from Gradoli, Lazio in central Italy.

Gianmarco Antonuzzi and Clémentine Bouveron dispose of around 14 hectares, oak and chestnut, and olive trees as well as vineyards. We are near the volcanic Lake Bolsena in the north of the Lazio region, 600 meters above sea level.

While the sites and microclimates of their 20 parcels vary, all are found on volcanic soil.

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Some of the vines are ungrafted. This is a real artisanal project, carried out with a lot of patience, according to biodynamic principles, and without additions of any sort.

Le Primeur is a varietal aleatico that underwent a carbonic maceration for three weeks. Comes in magnums – or by the glass at DuckSoup.

Le Primeur 2015 (Le Coste)

Quite light in colour. Pure fresh fruit, flowers, red berries and stone fruit. Vivid and energetic, slightly carbonic in the mouth, simply delicious.

Price: Medium

A Sumoll rosé at Territoriet, Oslo

I tasted this at the Territoriet (The Territory) wine bar in Oslo’s nowadays quite fashionable Grünerløkka district. The wine bar is an independent no-chain place that boasts 400 wines by the glass, a great many of them organic.

20160618_182139 Wine and music: I can “tolerate” this!

The producers both live and work at their Can Comas estate in Catalan Penedès where they feel an obligation to treat both the vineyards and the surrounding forests as eco-friendly as possible.

The vineyards are not irrigated, nor ploughed (in order to avoid erosion and encourage natural growth), and neither do they use fertilisers.

This rosé made from the rare sumoll variety, that was about to disappear but saved by a group of local vintners, among them Celler Pardas themselves. This vineyard is south-east facing at 400 meters and was planted 40 years ago.

A perfect choice in that hot Oslo evening.

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Pardas Sumoll Rosé 2014 (Celler Pardas)

Pink, salmon colour, onion-like rim. Fruity, hoot of red apple, flowers. Round on the palate, and just enough acidity to keep the freshness.

Price: Low

Food: Summer salads and other light dishes

 

New wine bar with top artisan beer in downtown Oslo

For a year the name of this cosy new bar was identical with the title of this post. The new name is En Trapp Opp, that translates to something like One Step Up (trapp means stairs). It’s headed by Jonas Jonsson, and has quite close ties to Norwegian importer Falchenberg & Nærlie, where Jonas is himself a partner. This means that the bar offers a wine selection from this particular importer, but by no means exclusively from them. Today they have some 50-60 different wines on offer, and they use Coravin (you know the needle that takes the wine out through the cork and replaces the empty space with gas, to keep the quality intact). They have also other activities, like visits from wine producers and importers, and you shall not be too surprised if there is some ecclectic downstripped live music in the room either.

20160617_165837-1 A hidden pearl in the centre of Oslo

Their aim is to present wines as natural as possible, in other words from organically grown grapes, made with natural fermentation, without excess oak treatment, or without too much treatment of any sort. However, there is little fundamentalism here. If the producers want to protect their wines with a little sulphur they can still have a place in this bar.

The food is made by Thomas Moen, who has a long experience from the gastronomic scene in town, and who also work for the import company towards horeca. I visited twice during last weekend. The first time I had a cockerel confit with a lot of delicious vegetables that was meant to be part of their new takeaway offer.

20160617_154852-3 Jonas

 

20160621_125745 Jonas in front, Thomas in the shadows

Here are some of the wines I tasted: It was only natural to begin with Falchenberg & Nærlie Riesling 2015 (Blasius), the importer’s own brand. This Rheinhessen riesling has become a relative bestseller, and deservedly so. The new vintage was even more generous than the previous, with a more focused fruit, and a smooth yet stimulating, and fruity taste. Trebbiano 2014 (Casale), from the Chianti area of Toscana, is a “prolonged skin contact” wine, light brown-orange in colour, and quite interesting for this relatively neutral grape.

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We discussed the Coravin concept. The reason for this was that Jonas had been in doubt whether the bottle variation of some wines was due to just that – bottle variation – or if the device could have its limitations. The Red Car Pinot Noir 2012 from California’s Sonoma Coast was for some reason lacking in fruit richness. But the second bottle was better, and when I returned the day after it was in a very good shape, with all its cool, fresh pinot character intact. We also tasted two bottles of Langhe Nebbiolo 2014 (Elio Sandri), where the first bottle was little more than tannin structure. The second was delicious, with a much richer fruit, some of the usual underwood aromas, and where the structure only added to the complexity and typicity of the style.

On the second day (or more accurately: late night) I got the chance to taste the 2014 vintage of Karl May‘s Spätburgunder, a very luscious and refreshing German wine with a slightly “pétillant” feeling on the tongue.

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Completely wrong, according to some people’s etiquette, I had a champagne after this, the pure and lovely Pierre Gerbais Cuvée de Resérve, made from 50% pinot nois, and the rest pinot blanc and chardonnay. This one is quite dry at 6 grams of sugar, and has rested three years on its lees. Very good ageing character, with freshly baked bread, and in the mouth it’s quite rounded, though the continental terroir shows through in the steely acidity that is inside. Interestingly enough I rounded off the whole séance with a cider from the western Norwegian fiords, Aalholm Cider Medium, a round and mild drink that was delicious with the shrimp cocktail, a leftover from a Swedish party earlier that night.

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En Trapp Opp will hopefully be known to a lot more people in the future. In the long run it will maybe benefit from the waiting time, as it’s now probably more fit to meet a wider market.

 

 

A meeting with Silvia Bastos at the Café Tati

I regret the closing of the Os Goliardos wine bar in Lisboa, after ten years of existence. There has not been anything like it, before or after, as far as I know. But through my friend Pedro Marques, whose Vale da Capucha wines I import to Norway, I was last year introduced to Silvia Bastos and her partner “in life and crime” Nadir, and one of their other activities, the Vinho ao Vivo fair.

We managed to meet at the Café Tati on a Sunday a couple of weeks ago. The Tati, as the name implies, is a cultural spot, almost impossible to find if you don’t know about it, and filled with activities that I love, such as jazz and good wine.

2016-04-17 21.29.15 Silvia Bastos at the Café Tati

But what happened with the Os Goliardos wine bar, and what are Silvia and Nadir up to now? Silvia explains:

-Our main purpose is to promote wine as culture. We like an open exchange between producers from different countries that share the same values of humanity and respect for the land, having a more natural viticulture, being demanding in the wines. 

And to be more specific:

-We do import, export, distribution, training and two events a year, the Vinho ao Vivo in July in Lisboa (link to the blogpost above), and Vini Corsari in November in Barolo. We started as a wine bar and cellar, we have been doing wine tasting courses ever since, and that created an alternative approach, closer to the production, and a net of people fan of authentic wines. It became difficult to maintain the wine bar among out many activities. But it had its time, and we have a lot of good memories. Now our wine courses are held here at Tati.

I knew that Os Goliardos still existed, though not as a wine bar. And while I was doing some research it seemed to me that Silvia and the Nadir were doing a great and unselfish job spreading the word about the authentic, or artisan producers, and promoting other establishments too.

-We promote the places that decided to have a selection of character wines. I cannot say it’s unselfish because they buy wine from us and we are happy to drink those wines in nice places. But it’s quite hard in Lisboa to promote a non-mainstream style, so we believe we really have to help those places that took that decision.

The future of natural, small-scale, artisan wine in Portugal…

-We still believe we are a very small group in Portugal. If you go to one of the so-called wine bars of Lisboa that only have industrial wines, you will understand what I mean. But it’s a very gratifying work because we always meet producers and people that share the pleasure of the terroir, connected to culture, in a large sense. All that with good wines.

2016-04-17 23.18.56 The door to the Café Tati

Who could imagine that behind this door is one of the natural wine havens of Lisboa? Well, the area is quite popular, close to the Alcântara district, with the Cais do Sodré as one of its nearest neighbours, the railway station that serves the routes to the west. But there are no indication, and the street could need some renovation.

It’s full of cultural activities. I was there on a Sunday, and there was no jazz, but according to the week program there had been some interesting gigs during the past few days. And Silvia explained there had been a wonderful jam-session earlier that day. By the way the Goliardos wine courses are held here too.

On Silvia’s advice I started with a Vinho Verde, the Aphros Loureiro 2009. I have followed the wines of producer Vasco Croft some years, and I know they are good. But I didn’t expect a seven year old wine to be that vivid. Some developed character, ok, but still very much alive, quite fruity and with a good lees-character and lenght. I remember I visited the Lagar de Darei of the Dão region, when they started out some years ago, I even had accomodation there for a night, a freezingly cold night in March, I can remember. So I was very eager to try their Darei Colheita 2014 white. This was heavier, more full than the previous wine, but with ample acidity, maybe a bit more streamlined, but still good. A couple of reds too, one on Silvias suggestion: Óssio 2014 (Adega Monte Branco). The name alludes to the mountain range to the south of Estremoz (in the northern, fresher part of Alentejo). The man behind this one is Luís, son of Miguel Louro of the prestigious Quinta de Mouro. The wine is a single vineyard wine from schistous soil, made with grapes aragonês, alicante bouschet and syrah, fermented together. It’s made in collaboration with Os Goliardos and sold only through them. I admit I have no notes, but after these weeks I remember it as clean, fruity and with a nice structure especially from the acidity. Last was Gilda 2012 (Tiago Teles), a curious blend (castelão, merlot, tinto cão) from the Bairrada area, an interesting wine with notes of red fruits like cherries, plums, some spice, smooth tannins, and good acidity – made in the most natural way possible.

Other than this they had some wines from Álvaro Castro (Dão), Quinta de Serradinha (Lisboa), Marcial Dorado, Spanish producer in Minho, that sadly has closed down his business lately according to Silvia, a section of dessert wines like Port, Setúbal and Madeira, dubbed “Meditation wines”. There were many more, and the selection changes once in a while.

13313724_1031345000253331_422989639_o Interior, before the hords arrive (photo courtesy of Café Tati)

The Goliards was a group within the church in the middle age that wrote satirical verses in Latin, some sort of a protest movement in several countries of Southern Europe. In Silvia’s words they “wrote poetry and drank wine, it was a free movement, no boarders, no precise time”. I see the source of inspiration, although I don’t believe we should draw the comparisons too far.
What is certain: In the world of wine you meet many beautiful people. And the stories about wine, art and life are often intertwined, or they go parallel for a while, and with an open mind and a will to improvise you can reach interesting places. This “Lisbon Story” is an example of just that.

More surprises at Egget, Stavanger

Egget (The Egg) didn’t come first, only around a year ago. But it managed to bring new concepts to the already varied gastronomic scene in Stavanger, a Norwegian town with more than its fair share of cafés and restaurants. This is mainly because the country’s most important culinary educational institutions have been located here. Add to this the nearness to the oil industry and university students from across the country, and I think you are beginning to get the big picture.

What is special then? The obvious features are the facts that the responsibles at Egget don’t have written menus, nor wine lists – and they don’t take bookings. Other than this they seem to have a rather holistic approach, and I doubt they have fixed prices for every dish or every wine.

But maybe the most important: I can’t think of any other restaurant in the area with extremely high ambitions in wine and food, without being formal and pricy. One of Egget’s nearest neighbours just up the street, the first one outside Oslo to receive a Michelin star, can exemplify this. (No offence, that one is excellent too, but more “formal-normal”.)

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Left to right: Diego Gimeno, Roy Klausen, Benoît Berthail (not present that day: head-chef  Anthony Orjollet, creator of most of the dishes)

This time I visited at late lunch-time with a friend. And when we sat down at a table of our choice the relaxing reggae music was turned down to a perfect level. We shared tapa-sized dishes throughout the meal. Our waiter, Ben, made it clear that it was squid day, as the food is always based on today’s catch, and the squid was especially good that day. So along came squid in its own ink, in a salad – and a dish that looked like a chocolate cake, but it was in fact a risotto that included squid with ink as well. There was a ceviche of cod, and a hot dish made with skate (you know that fish that looks like a kite in the water), fermented carrots, grilled milk-marinated lamb… The ingredients and techniques are taken from anywhere in the world, but quality and creativity are common denominators.

The wines are what I like to call natural wines; you know, artisan, low-intervention, organic wines, even without added sulphur, and they are without exception served by the glass. For me Egget is a place I go to get surprised. Sometimes I want to discuss a few options with the waiter, but most often he will suggest a wine, and I will say “ok”. And what to serve with the wines? Well, the kitchen is absolutely free to chose. The food is always superb, often with a creative twist, and with the wines they serve here it has never struck me that the food and the wine didn’t match.

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When you enter the place, you notice oak barrels from Rioja producer Muga in their yard. But you better look upon them as tables, as the wines served are neither oaky nor old-fashioned (and with all respect, Muga is not in the avant-garde of Spanish wine any more, if they ever were).

The first wine this time was the white Amphibolite Nature 2015 from producer Joseph Landron in Loire’s Muscadet de Sèvre-et-Maine. Landron disposes of 45 hectars with varying soil. Amphibolite is the name of the stones that can be found in this particular vineyard, containing magnesium and iron silicate. When the mélon de Bourgogne vines are rooted deep in this soil it can transmit very mineral character to the wine. The wine was slender, citrusy, mineral and structured.

Next was a light red grenache-based wine, Cuvée Romanissa 2014 from Domaine Matassa, on the French side of Catalunya. The grapes are grown in schistous soils rich in iron, and it’s very luscious and fresh, with aromas of red berries and herbs.

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We were also offered the Flotsam & Jetsam Cinsault 2015, from Hemelrand (Alheit Vineyards) in South Africa’s Darling region. Also light coloured, this one had more roundness, and a sensation of sweetness from the cinsault grapes. Strawberry is maybe the dominant aroma, but it showed some spiciness too.

Éric Texier’s Chat Fou (Crazy Cat) is a long time favourite, now in the 2014 vintage. This time we ended with this lovely unfiltered Côtes du Rhône, with its blend of 50% grenache, the rest a mix of four other Rhône grapes, including the white marsanne and rousanne. It was the darkest wine of the lunch, but still deliciouis, luscious summer drinking – yet concentrated and with a hint of spices. Éric isn’t one who uses many tricks to make his wines darker, fatter, more tannic… On the contrary his minimal intervention philosophy seems to maintain a perfect balance in his wines.

Egget_logoYou never know what is coming out…

This was a few days ago, when everyone was preparing for Norway’s national day. I bet many people were crowding up on that day too. Lucky the ones who managed to get one of the 5 or 6 tables. New surprises. Hooray!

Remedy for the wet London weather

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I have understood that the Terroirs wine bar was something of a pioneer on London’s organic and natural wine scene. Some of the people who had formerly worked there opened in November 2013 The Remedy Wine Bar & Kitchen, located in the Fitzrovia area near Regent’s Park and the Euston train station. I was there in January (it’s just that I am well behind schedule regarding some posts), and it was like a remedy for the wet season that was about to set in. One night after having visited a nearby sax shop (yes, you heard right!) I popped in and had a standing tapas session because the locale was packed, so I thought I’d go back next day for a more relaxed lunch.

2016-01-08 14.09.41 Abel and his message on the wall

The Remedy is run by a group of friends with varied international background, among them Dany Teixeira (French-Portuguese), and newcomer in the team Abel Lamy Fernández (Spanish-French). Their aim is to create a cosy and relaxed place, something between an enoteca and a bistrot. The wine list is original, and the food is delicious. Their wine philosophy can be summed up in a few words, as they do themselves on their website: We like wine that tells a good story – about a place, a winemaker… That’s why we choose to work with small producers rather than mass-market wineries.

You will rarely find any famous wines among their selection. They are simply too curious, too obsessed to find obscure and rare oddities in this fascinating wine world.

No snobbery here, and their passion and enthousiasm is eagerly shared with all their satisfied customers – like me.

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Among the wines I savoured the first evening were a Muscadet sur lie 2013 from Delhommeau, on its own, before a developed fino from Sánchez Romate, to which Abel suggested a piquillo and anchovies toast. Then came an albariño, Cos Pés Fincas del Salnés 2013 (Forjas del Salnés with the collaboration with famous bearded wine maker Raúl Pérez, and macerated for a year on skins in used oak vats), orange or light mahoganny, with flowers, lychée and orange peel, accompanied by a “coppa” (meaning neck in Italian, a special type of cured ham). A great closing of the evening was the Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru Cherbaudes 2006 (Dom. Fourrier), with lovely hints of cherry and stone-fruit, a very delicate taste with an eminently integrated acidity. To go with it: Some Spanish chorizo and handmade potato chips, and still more charcuterie, if I remember right… Sssh, don’t tell anyone! I was alone, and it was so noisy anyway…

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The whole first night I spent standing at this table. But I was in good company…

The day after I visited again with my new tenor sax as almost the only luggage. Renato Catgiu, the Sardegnan co-owner, was there with Dany and Abel – and I had another delicious meal. This time with wines like the Burgenland pinot gris 2013 from Andert Pamhogna, an orange wine with rays of red light in it, and with evident tannins, accompanied by duck on toast, with slighly fried onions, spinach, mint & dill, then a Faugère Binet-Jacquet 2014, a youngish and blueish wine, slightly spicy and very “quaffable”, as they say in this country, meaning one can drink a lot in a very short period of time. Then…

This:

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(Big silence…) Outside all winelists, and almost out of this world, Château Châlon 2007 (Dom. Macle), a vin jaune in the typical 62 cl. bottle, and with 14% alcohol: With respect for the designation (vin jaune): Yellow, with a flor- (sherrylike) aroma of almonds, a full taste with lovely acidity and a salty minerality, – and very aptly accompanied by a comté, the legendary cheese from the same region, Jura that is.

2016-01-07 20.50.45 Dany and Abel 

After this I was satisfied, and knowing Dany and Abel, they must have been too, because the customers’ satisfaction is what they apt for – in addition to their own.

And quite naturally, one has to visit that special room before going back to the wet London weather. And in a wine bar that serve wines as natural as possible, what else did I find on the toilet shelf…

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Was I surprised? I don’t know if it was the intention that I should reveal this, and if the owners of The Remedy don’t like it I will of course take it away. After all, I can’t risk being stopped in the door when trying to access this fantastic place again.

 

 

Plateau: On a high level in Brighton

I heard about this Brighton winebar from Fiona Beckett, blogger with many years in the business, and whom I met at the RAW fair a couple of years ago. You can see her blog here. Strange though, as I have been there a few times because one of the world’s best sax shops is just around the corner, in West Sussex. Sax, yes. Now after two visits to Plateau this year I must share my experience.

Plateau is a word play on French plateaux (platters/dishes), says bar responsible Johan Claesson, who is on duty the during my second visit. But at least for me it also signifies the high level of cooking, the selection of natural wines and the presentation of it all. Located just opposite the city hall it is easy to find in the heart of the town, near the beaches and the pier too.

2015-10-05 17.48.13 Shelter for the evening rain

Plateau is for people with a pleasure in eating and drinking. The staff take pride in good quality ingredients, served in a friendly and fun environment. Their ‘bites’ are based on ingredients that are fresh, local and organically grown. Today’s main menu is written on a chalkboard on the wall, and the dishes are built around the idea of sharing (they can be made into main courses also).

2015-10-05 20.00.56 Christian & Johan

Among my choices were mackerel with beetroot puree, green apple and walnut, a lamb carpaccio with broad beans and dukkah (a nutty dip from North Africa), and from the chalkboard: duck with springroll, melon and more, and a delicious goat’s cheese gnocchi.

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The wine list is full of unpretentious, easy-and-fun-to-drink organic, biodynamic and natural wines, always with as little additives and corrections as possible, some of them none, and many by the glass.

The wines are not listed by origin, but by style. The whites for instance, come in categories like «mineral, citrus, zingy», «aromatic, fragrant», «skin contact, oxidative», and «rich, nutty, fullbodied» while among the reds you can chose between «carbonic maceration, fruity, gamay», «pinot noir, jura and friends» or «aussies gem» etcetera.

I have mostly chosen from the by the glass selection, and several wines on the staff’s recommendations too. I tried some new and interesting wines, but I also took the opportunity to taste new vintages of old favourites.

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The first wine, La Pythe 2013 (a grenache rosé from Dom. Les Deux Terres) was new to me, but a very light, fresh and delicious wine made by natural principles in Ardèche, France. I was surprised to find the Gabriela manzanilla (Sánchez Ayala), a natural, grapey fortified wine I didn’t expect to be sold very far from their bodega in the center of Sanlúcar (Cádiz, Spain). One last example of the many unlikely starter wines here: La Perle Noire 2014, a sparkling wine from Dom. de l’Ocre Rouge to the north of Nîmes, France, a pinot noir with 5 months on the lees. At my second visit I went for a champagne, Pierre Gerbais Cuvée Préstige Brut NV, a very tasteful non dos, no added SO2 wine, with notes of mature apple, some marmelade, and a nice acidity to go with it.

Among the whites I went for a very light coloured sylvaner from Alsace, Dom. Rietsch Sylvaner 2014, that was smelling of flowers and some apricot, and was round and grapey in the mouth. Then an orange wine with some brown, oxidazed tones, Dinavolino 2009, from the unlikely combination of malvasia and marsanne grapes, a nutty, mature apple smelling, lightly spicy, richly textured wine from Denavolo Rivergeno in Emilia-Romagna, Italy.

For the reds I tried several Spanish wines. The Gran Cerdo 2012 (a declassified rioja, which is a good thing for several reasons) a pure whole bunch fermented, unfiltered tempranillo, with lots of fresh fruit, blackcurrent, green pepper, good acidity and quite slender in the mouth. This one went well with «goat’s cheese gnocchi» with wild mushrooms and hazelnuts. They also had a wine from the interesting Maybri project, 1.700 meters above sea level in Bullas, Murcia – only in bottle though – that I chose for an ox tongue bite. Interesting to have tasted, the Maybri Wild 2012 was on the oaky side though. Other Spanish wines I tasted were the Tragolargo from Rafa Bernabé (Alicante) and Partida Creus Vinel.lo 2014, a garnatxa/ull de llebre (tempranillo) from Penedès, Catalunya.

2015-01-22 19.35.13 A Murcian highland red

I could have dropped many more names down here, but lastly I wish to leave you a few details about one wine, as I have a special interest in wines like Beaujolais these days. Vielle Vignes 2012, a Beaujolais Village from Jean Claude Lapalu was in a delicate style somewhere between the Sunier brothers and Foillard. Based in his native southern Beaujolais he makes six different Beaujolais gamay wines. Like many others he was influenced by Jules Chauvet, and is now going strictly biodynamic.

Lastly, Johan serverd me an «Eiswein» (from apples) from his native Sweden! A very interesting experience and a very nice conclusion of another memorable visit.

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2015-01-22 16.37.39 Beach promenade

At Plateau they also feel that music is neglected. Here it is carefully selected, so keep the beat, don’t miss the bar – and have a bite too.

I round off with a cheap wordplay inspired by the famous writer (there are several to be found around town, my favourite being a bar called The Greene Room):

Brighton rocks, and on a very high Plateau too!

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