“Terroirs” – a natural winebar in Central London
I was out Christmas shopping the other day in Central London and what a scrum! Even though it was Monday afternooon, everyone and their grandma was out frantically snapping up the best deals they could get and the shops seemed to be more than happy to accommodate.
I hate crowds and got my shopping done as quickly as possible. I have to admit, I did have an ulterior motive. I had heard about a new organic wine bar, Terroirs, that’s opened up just off the Strand and since my bus stop was on the Strand, well, there really was no reason why I couldn’t pop in for a quick look around.
There is a growing movement in Europe to produce “natural” wines. The natural winemakers hail mostly from Italy and France but there are also German winemakers in the mix. Many of the wines come from old vines, wild yeasts are used where possible, the wines are unfiltered, unfined and some are even made without sulphur dioxide. According to the winelist notes, the objective of the bar is…
…to present wines that reflect the origins of the place, the nature of the vintage and the personality of the grower – wines that encapsulate the notion of terroir…
I had the chance to grab a few words from Vincent, the very charming Frenchman in charge. In between seatings he told me the philosophy of the bar is focused on the person behind the wine, not all the accompanying PR and rigamaroll that seems to go with modern winemaking. In his words, “wine shouldn’t be a product.” The wine list was quite extensive but I had just popped in for a quick drink and to suss the place out for future visits. I didn’t take many notes but do recall that the prices by the glass were quite reasonable, ranging from £4 to £8.
I took a seat at the bar and asked the friendly bartender to pour me something interesting. He chose a Cotes du Roussillon, a syrah/grenache blend, the Octubre ’08 from the Domaine des Foulardes. I could tell as soon as he poured it that this wasn’t going to be a run of the mill Roussillon. A cloudy pomegranate colour, it was obviously unfiltered. When I brought the glass up to my nose, candy apples and red candied fruits ran through my mind. It had a very red fruity nose but none of the pepper and spice that I usually associate with syrah.
Did it taste like a candy apple? Not quite but it was interesting. It had a medium body and mouthwatering acidity. The first thing that I noticed was how fresh it was, fresh red fruit, sour cherry and a peppery finish to it. Nothing complex but tasty and well made, there was nothing cloying or sweet about it despite the nose. At that moment Vincent popped by and told me that the wine had been made using carbonic maceration. A-ha! That would explain the fruitiness, lack of tannins and bracing acidity. I had no idea that they use that method in Roussillon but before I got a chance to find out more, he was off to seat another patron.
I was intrigued and had plenty of questions but the post-work, pre-theatre crowd was beginning to fill the bar. Vincent invited me to come back at a quieter time for a more lengthy chat. At the moment only the wine bar is open but a downstairs restaurant will be opening in late January ’09. I will definitely put them on my list of places to visit in the coming new year.