London’s top 10 expert-rated wine lists
This week sees the launch of an exciting – and hopefully very useful – new product from the team at the drinks business: Wine List Confidential.
Wine List Confidential is a wine list ratings website and mobile app designed to be a transparent, straightforward way to connect wine lovers with the best wine-focused restaurants.
Using a numeric rating system, Wine List Confidential allows wine lovers to quickly compare the wine offer in restaurants, whatever the food or format.
Using a simple 100-point scale, Wine List Confidential scores restaurants on the most important aspects of their wine offering – from pricing and service, to the range, size and originality of the selection. These individual ratings are then used to create an overall Wine List Confidential Score for every restaurant reviewed.
Having launched this week, the free-to-use resource will initially focus on London’s top restaurant and wine venues, but is set to expand to cover other major cities around the world. The site will also be available as an app in the coming weeks.
By way of introduction to this innovative product, in the pages that follow we present London’s top 10 wine lists – as judged by Wine Lists Confidential’s team of experts…
10. Noble Rot
Wine List Confidential Score: 92.4
Originally a fanzine-format lifestyle magazine, Noble Rot has evolved into a wine bar and restaurant which in a very short time has become a top destination for London wine enthusiasts.
Chefs Stephen Harris and Paul Weaver from the Michelin-starred The Sportsman in Whitstable have revitalised the kitchen of this homely venue in Lamb’s Conduit Street, which was originally built in 1700.
More than 25 wines are served by the glass, most of which hail from the Old World, including a Tenerife blend supplemented by intriguing, wine-slaked cocktails, such as the ‘Noble Rotter’ (Chateau d’Yquem ‘Sauternes 2’, Lime, Mint and Ice).
To view Noble Rot’s complete Wine List Confidential entry, including individual category scores, click here.
Wine List Confidential Score: 92.4
Changing each day and chalked up on the board, this is one of the most dynamic lists in London at a charming venue of an old car garage on the Canonbury/Clissold Park border.
Artisanal producers form the thrust of the menu, and speaking to the effervescent and wine savvy owner Jeremie Cometto-Lingenheim, or sommelier/restaurant manager Matteo Monterumisi, will reward with nuggets of information to help you make your choices.
This feels like one of the wine lists in London which really has a life of its own, and the fact there is no printed list adds to the charm. The emphasis is on low-intervention wines and everything is available by the glass and carafe.
To view Primeur’s complete Wine List Confidential entry, including individual category scores, click here.
8. The Square
Wine List Confidential Score: 92.6
One of the top-draw wine experiences in London – with two Michelin stars to help proceedings along. Pretty much as good as it gets in London, with a sommelier team that is at the top of its game. There is a scintillating vertical of Alois Kracher sweet wines from Austria.
The glass listings are particularly compelling, including lesser seen varieties like Roter Veltliner from Birgit Eichinger in Kamptal, and Fié Gris from the Loire.
Chambolle-Musigny and Brunello di Montalcino are among current wines being poured by the glass, ensuring you don’t need to wade into a bottle to appreciate loftier appellations. There’s a healthy listing of older vintages of Domaine Trimbach, too.
To view The Square’s complete Wine List Confidential entry, including individual category scores, click here.
7. Les 110 de Taillevent
Wine List Confidential Score: 93
True to its name, the London version of the famous Paris, which opened in Cavendish Square last year, staple offers no fewer than 110 wines by the glass (70ml or 125ml) from a total of 360. As one might expect, the modern bistro, located in a former Coutts banking hall – although minimalism must have been the brief to designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, who also helped revamp The Savoy Hotel – pulls strong focus on La Belle France.
Taillevent takes its name from Guillaume Tirel, author of France’s first cookbook, who was nicknamed ‘Taillevent’ (meaning ‘wind cutter’) owing to his long nose. The restaurant is said to have in part inspired 2007 Pixar film Ratatouille about a rat who dreams of becoming a chef, along with Restaurant Guy Savoy and Le Train Bleu.
Diners coming here with expense accounts will encounter a grand tour of ready-to-drink Burgundy and Bordeaux, including relative bargains such as 1996 Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru – arguably the best liquid possible to heighten the experience of the epic veal T-bone scented with lemon thyme – and 2004 Haut-Brion, both priced close to retail price.
To view Les 110 de Taillevent’s complete Wine List Confidential entry, including individual category scores, click here.
Wine List Confidential Score: 93
Driven by the work of natural wine evangelist Isabelle Legeron MW, Hibiscus picked up the natural wine baton relatively early on the restaurant scene.
By the glass listings are a joy: Henri Milan’s ‘Le Vallon’ from Provence, Château Le Puy St-Emilion, Casino Tajvin’s Barbera d’Asti ‘La Bandita’.
Orange wines get good representation (Legeron herself has made orange wine in Georgia and Hibiscus was the first restaurant in London to have an entire page devoted to the stuff) from Colombaia in Tuscany to Radikon’s thrilling Chardonnay/Friulano blend ‘Slating’. Piedrasassi’s skin contact Sauvignon Blanc from the Central Coast sums up the daring and innovative wines that are in the cellar.
To view Hibiscus’s complete Wine List Confidential entry, including individual category scores, click here.
5. 10 Cases
Wine List Confidential Score: 93.2
A lovingly put together wine list in an enclave of good drinking on the edge of Covent Garden. This is something of a wine geek destination. It’s is a two-sided affair consisting of a ‘Bistrot à Vin’ and a ‘Cave à Vin’.
The Bistrot à Vin is a small restaurant (a monthly changing menu of modern European fare) with a short but beautifully formed wine list; the Cave a Vin is a wine bar and shop with a dynamic 150+ selection of great wines from all over the world at all price points, aiming to offer the best value wine list in London available to drink in or take away. The overall aim here is to give guests access to incredible wine at the best price in a relaxed, fun atmosphere.
The Enomatic machine in the wine bar, where you can charge up your card and taste away at your leisure, leaves room for plenty of experimentation. For such a central location, the feel of the place is like a homely neighbourhood joint.
To view 10 Cases’s complete Wine List Confidential entry, including individual category scores, click here.
4. Social Wine and Tapas
Wine List Confidential Score: 93.6
An inquisitive list at this split-level Marylebone bistro, bar and wine shop, led by sommelier Laure Patry.
Glass listings are particularly eclectic, taking in everything from Catalunya to Hungary, via the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon. Tempting wine flights are assembled with themes including ‘Skin Contact’, ‘Madeira’ and ‘Different Styles of Jura’.
The Loire leaning reflects the sommelier’s background, which includes her own bottling of white and red Anjou, ‘Clos de L’Elu’, and there are several wines by the glass that are exclusive to the company in the UK, such as JM Stephan Vine de France (a natural, carbonic maceration Syrah planted in Condrieu) and Cascina Tavijn’s Punk Crignolino from Asti. There’s also a substantial list on Coravin – which allows Patry to serve DRC by the glass.
To view Social Wine and Tapas’s complete Wine List Confidential entry, including individual category scores, click here.
3. Clos Maggiore
Wine List Confidential Score: 94
Theatreland’s most romantic restaurant can still boast one of the largest lists in the UK. Its 2,500 listings from 18 countries include some extremely impressive verticals of first growth Bordeaux, Super Tuscans and Romanée-Conti. It has also been particularly strong in its Californian selection for some time.
Some might find it quite intimidating when this hefty, 100-page tome is placed on the table. It could even be deemed ‘anti-social’ given the silence that can drop while the list is examined. It is nevertheless a spellbinding collection to complement delicate dishes such as native lobster, scallop and king prawn tortellini poached in langoustine bisque, and roasted Wagyu beef from Kyushu Island, Japan.
To view Clos Maggiore’s complete Wine List Confidential entry, including individual category scores, click here.
2. The Greenhouse
Wine List Confidential Score: 94.2
Located at the end of a tree-lined private walkway, this Mayfair mews restaurant owned by Marc Abela ((Morton’s, The Square, Green’s, Morello, A Voce and Marc Patisserie) is feted as having the largest wine list in London – running to over 3,600 labels.
The supermodel of a collection from start to finish is curated by sommelier Elvis Ziakos.
Definitely a list that struts with its chest puffed out and head held high – pretty much peerless.
To view The Greenhouse’s complete Wine List Confidential entry, including individual category scores, click here.
1. Quality Chop House
Wine List Confidential Score: 94.4
Dating to 1869, this Grade II-listed Farringdon dining room offers quality in both name and nature. Indeed, the value-quality ratio here is notably high, offering some seriously good drinking at very fair prices – which is what you might expect from a venue co-run by Will Lander, son of wine writer Jancis Robinson MW and restaurant critic Nick Lander.
The list is cleanly, simply laid out, easily navigated and unintimidating, despite comprising a collection of fairly serious producers. All in all, well-chosen, frequently refreshed and all delivered in one of the most atmospheric and friendly places to dine in London: a potent combination.
To view Quality Chop House’s complete Wine List Confidential entry, including individual category scores, click here.