June 20, 2009

Artisan & Vine : London’s Best Wine Bar

By Andrew Barrow In Tasting Reports, Wine Notes

artisan and vine - the lower seating areaYou can’t fault her passion, her drive or her enthusiasm. Kathryn, manager of Artisan & Vine, has also a rather good palate – the wine list is superb. ‘Natural’ is the philosophy – wines made as naturally as possible (if that means biodynamic, organic or made in the old cow trough then that is good enough for Artisan & Vine) or wines that are locally produced.

Our private lunch time tasting – just five wines – lasted way into the afternoon. I can think of worse things than being in good company, drinking a personal selection of stunning wines and regaled with stories on each. If the wine doesn’t have a ‘story’ or Kathryn hasn’t detected your ‘passion’ your wine just isn’t going to be listed.

“At artisan&vine our objective is to bring your taste buds as close as possible to the fantastic produce of artisans and vineyards. To do this, all of our 120+ wines are either naturally or locally produced. We think you’ll taste the difference this proximity to the grapes brings and we are proud to be London’s first wine bar to specialise in local and natural wines.
With around 20 English wines and liqueurs, we think we could have London’s longest English drinks list. With the remainder of our wines and liqueurs being all natural or biodynamic (more than only organic) we have one of the longest and most interesting natural wine lists in the capital too.”

No English wines at the tasting, although I noted two from my local vineyard, Brightwell, on the shelf.

Champagne/Sparkling Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Casa Coste Piane, Prosecco di Valdobbiadene, 2004, Italy.

Price: £29 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Light and playful but appley, citrussy with some weight. Very fine bubbles with a “hazy, natural appearance”. Long lasting yeastiness. Alcohol 11%.
Scribblings Rating – 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Bret Brothers La Soufrandière Pouilly Vincelles, 2006, Burgundy, France.

Price: £31.10 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
A wonderful 100% Chardonnay. Palate has a richness that is quite delicious, barrel fermented, lovely texture, a big wine with elegance and structure. Touch of ripening strawberry to the flavour. Delicious. Alcohol 13%.
Scribblings Rating – 92/100 [4 out of 5]

White Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Alain Caux,Tir a Blanc, Le Casol de Mailloles, Vin de Table, France.

Price: £35.60 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Unusual in the extreme; a blend of Grenache Blanc and Maccabeu that is so distinctive on the nose that my initial reaction was met with hoots of laughter by those who had already tried it! Extremely ‘cider-like’, straw, apples, hawthorn, pears. Weighty, Exceptionally long aftertaste. Distinctive and I’m sure will have its detractors but, after initial scepticism, enjoyment ensued to the extent of drinking a glass or two rather than the Pouilly Vinzelles. Alcohol 13.5%.
Scribblings Rating – 92/100 [4 out of 5]

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Frank Cornelissen Rosso Contadino 5, 2007, Vino da Tavola, Sicily, Italy

Price: £28.10 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
Another controversial bottle, but a huge talking point none-the-less. A blend of white and red varieties Carricante, Inzolia, Catarratto, Nerello Mascalese, Alicante,… 100% natural, no added sulphites; non-filtered. With the aroma evolving with every sip it was clear the wine is different (and doesn’t hold up well after a day being open). The volcanic soils that give the grape a foothold on the mountainside also supply individuality – a combination of freshness and a Pinot Noir-like lightness that gives sweet rose-hips and darker, mixed fruit jam, gives way to darker, blacker fruit flavours and a tannic structure. Alcohol 13%.
Scribblings Rating – 90/100 [3.75 out of 5]

Red Wine Review/Tasting NoteWine Tasting Note: Cuvee 51, Le Clos Perdus, 2007, Corbieres, Languedoc, France

Price: £28.50 [More: Adegga / Snooth]
A wine with character – gorgeous generous, black fruits and tobacco. A wine “that refuses to behave in the mouth”. A blend of Grenache, Carignan, Mourvedre. Alcohol 14%.
Scribblings Rating – 92/100 [4 out of 5]

All prices are ‘drink-in’ bottle price. All wines are available, cheaper, to ‘take-away’, there are even plans for a full internet wine shop. Fingers crossed! More photographs of the wine bar are on SpittoonExtra and pictures of some of the wines on flickr. Rob at The Wine Conversation has also written a post on the tasting.

Artisan & Vine
126 St John’s Hill,
Clapham, SW11 1SL
The Prosecco on the bar at Artisan and Vine

  1. Dylan June 20, 2009

    There’s something very admirable about Kathryn’s drive for wines made by passionate people whom she has personally reviewed. I imagine that gateway creates this unique sense of having received something special or more intimate within a tasting there.

  2. Looks like a cozy place to enjoy a wine tasting. If I ever am able to get over to that side of the Atlantic pond I’ll have to stop in.

  3. beth June 22, 2009

    Glad to know about the bar. wish if i could visit this place this weekend.


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