London’s new wave wine bars

Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels in Covent Garden

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Across town, cherubic Julia Oudill holds the fort as head sommelier at the recently opened Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels in Covent Garden, owned by the French founders of the Experimental Cocktail Club in China Town.

In contrast to The Remedy’s trendy industrial décor, CVS is more plush, homely and comforting in character, filled with velvet chaises longues that tempt you into whiling away a lazy afternoon in its cosy clutches to a soundtrack that flits from Pharrell Williams to Lenny Kravitz.

“All of the sites owned by the Experimental Cocktail Group share an interior designer, so while they all have their own identity, a reassuringly familiar design thread is weaved throughout,” says Oudill. Nestled in Neal’s Yard, like The Remedy, CVS takes bookings, which is rare for a trendy new opening in the capital.

The wine list is a labour of love, with a strong leaning towards the south of France in a hat tip to Biarritz born Oudill’s homeland. French wines make up the bulk of the list, with copious offerings from Burgundy and Champagne, where a light is shone on small growers. Also like The Remedy, a large chunk of CVS’s selection is sourced from Les Caves de Pyrène.

Oudill was plucked from CVS in Paris to open and steer the London site. “The natural wine movement is still going strong in Paris so we thought we’d have a bit of fun with the name and call ourselves a ‘supernatural’ wine bar, as we think all of the wines on our list have a certain magic to them,” enthuses Oudill, who believes that Londoners are more open-minded about experimenting with unusual wines than their Parisian counterparts.

“French people think they know all about wine simply because they are French. Londoners, in contrast, aren’t afraid to ask questions and are thirsty to learn more about wine,”she says.

The role of the sommelier is particularly important at CVS, as tasting notes and descriptors about the wines have been deliberately omitted from the wine list, leaving the sommelier free to tailor recommendations to a guest’s taste and mood. “We wanted the conversation between the guest and the sommelier to be an important part of the CVS experience, and taking away the tasting notes encourages interaction,” offers Oudill.

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