Oxford welcomes new wine bar10th December, 2013 by Gabriel Savage
A new wine bar and bistro called 1855 is aiming to broaden customers’ wine horizons when it opens this week in Oxford city centre.
Named after the date of Bordeaux’s Left Bank wine classification, 1855 will offer around 120 wines, including 25 available by the glass, with a focus on independent suppliers. These will be arranged by stylistic categories to lead customers towards less familiar featured regions such as Turkey and Armenia.
“One thing that was important for me was to try and create a user friendly list that encourages customers to experiment,” 1855’s manager Alistair Cooper told the drinks business. “I think that lists compiled by country do not do this.”
While describing wine lists organised by style as “good in theory”, Cooper remarked: “the stylistic categories are so often meaningless and very homogenous and dull: dry and crisp, rich and fruity.”
Instead, 1855 has incorporated “an element of terroir or taste” to its own groups, with categories such as “Kiss of Oak”, “Sea & Ocean”, “Sun-drenched” and “Aromatics”.
Wine and food pairings will offer further encouragement for customers to explore new styles. The menu will work with local producers, focusing in particular on Cotswold cured meats and cheeses, although there will also be hot, seasonal dishes such as duck confit or partridge.
1855 has been set up by Oxford-based consultant engineers and “wine enthusiasts” Christopher Mulhall and Laurence Howlin, as well as his daughter Jane Howlin. Cooper was the 2012 recipient of the Derouet Jameson Award, a scholarship to support high performing graduates of the WSET Diploma with their Master of Wine studies.
“So many times wine plays second fiddle,” said Mulhall of the motivation behind this new project. “I wanted to create something that spoke primarily about the wine; a place to enjoy familiar and new wines whilst also providing the opportunity to explore the world of wine further.“
Cooper elaborated on this ethos, saying: “The greatest thing for me is that at its core, its very essence, wine is all about sharing; winegrowers sharing their passion for their vines and craft and wine drinkers sharing food, conversation and good times. That’s what 1855 is about and that’s why I’m excited to be a part of it.”
Although another wine bar opened earlier this year in the northern end of the city, Cooper suggested that a gap remained in the local market for this type of business. “Oxford town centre has nowhere to find a good glass of wine in a relaxed environment,” he remarked.
1855 is located in Oxford’s “Castle Quarter”, an urban regeneration project within the city’s historic castle and prison, which opened in 2006 and now hosts a variety of hotels, restaurants, bars and an art gallery.