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Q&A with Arnaud Compas of Vinothec Compass

We catch up with Arnaud Compas, founder of Bedales Wines, to find out about his new food and wine venture, Vinothec Compass, in Greenwich Peninsula.

You’re based next to a golf driving range, how did that happen?

The Vinothec Compass project is three years in the making. We knew we wanted to open a restaurant and were originally going to open on the site that is now Craft London, but I’m happy we’ve ended up in Greenwich Peninsula. We’ve been open just over a month and already half of our customers are non-golfers, which I’ve been pleasantly surprised by.

Wine is the star of the show at your restaurant, tell me about your range…

We currently offer over 600 different wines that I source mainly from private French collectors so that I can guarantee the provenance. The majority of the wines hail from the Old World but I’m keen for the range to be quirky and unpredictable.

As our chef is from Extremadura, we’re looking to build our Spanish range of wines. One of my favourite at the moment is Dido – a Macabeu and Garnacha Blanca blend from Montstant, which is the pet project of René Barbier and his wife Sara Pérez, it has an amazing texture and savoury character.

Do you work with any UK-based suppliers?

We source wines from a small number of suppliers like Berry Bros Rudd, Justerini & Brooks, Novum, The Wine Barn and Les Caves de Pyrène. It’s important to feed a newborn baby, so the idea is to expand the range.

I notice a lot of your older wines come from “off” vintages…

I passionately believe in the beauty of lesser vintages, some of which have taken longer to come into their own, such as 1983 over 1982; 1948 over 1947 and 2001 over 2000 – 2004 is an incredible Bordeaux vintage.

Are you keen to push wines from lesser-known wine countries?

I’m in love with the idea of the old Byzantine empire so want to shine a light on wines from lesser-known wine countries like Bulgaria, Romania, Greece, Croatia and Slovenia as there is so much to discover there – France doesn’t have the monopoly on terroir. The holy grail is to try and find an affordable Pinot Noir and we’ve sourced one from Bulgaria. We also want to build our selection of German Spätburgunders and wines from New York.

The terrace is dotted with Pol Roger umbrellas, is the company a sponsor?

We approached Pol Roger for sponsorship – it’s the house pour at our restaurant at £12.50 a glass and £56 a bottle for the non-vintage. We’re planning on selling Cuvée Sir Winston Churchill soon. I love Pol Roger ­– it’s Burgundy with bubbles and our customers love the Churchill connection with the brand.

cod with romesco

Can you buy to take away?

All of our wines can be brought to take home, but we don’t make a big noise about it. The plan is to develop our retail offering so we can be really competitive on price.

What else is in the pipeline?

We’ll be running a wine club every first Tuesday of the month and have Neal Martin on board to host a Caymus vertical tasting on 28 October where we will be showing the 1976 and 1981 vintages among others.

I’m also planning on serving a charmat method English sparkling wine on tap – we’ll be the first place in the UK to do it.

You used to work at The Wine Advocate as head of European business development, what was it like working for Robert Parker?

He was a grandfather figure to me. He has a fantastic sense of humour and is very interested in people. He’s very entertaining company.

Tell me a bit about the food…

I describe it as “casual fine dining” – our chef is Spanish, so some of the dishes, like cod with romesco and suckling pig with piquillo, are inspired by his homeland, but others, like smoked trout salad and Cornish lamb with a herb and garlic crust, are more British in character.

What is your ultimate goal for the project?

We’d like to open a wine bar in Greenwich and expand the Vinothec Compass concept. The main aim is to demystify wine and for people to come to us to eat well and drink well. We want to shatter the mystique surrounding wine to make it more fun and enjoyable.

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