Wine on tap has been a minor trend of the UK on-trade for some time now – low-tech versions have been around for several years while last year the drinks business reported on the surge of wine on tap offerings across London courtesy of companies such as Roberson, Vinoteca, Bibendum and Jascots.
Now, veteran Burgundy merchant OW Loeb has firmly taken the reins with the launch of its Loeb on Tap service. With this, wine on tap appears to have entered an exciting new phase as the quality, range and reliability of the wine on offer attracts some of the most dynamic players in the London on-trade.
In effect a start-up business within the fold of the conventional OW Loeb business, Loeb on Tap now carries as many as 59 wines in keg (the format for wines on tap) – and the number keeps on increasing.
Its range of WOT wines can now be found in 35 venues (33 of which are in London), while a further 20 venues are set to be added to its client list year alone.
Thus the Wine on Tap revolution, says Loeb on Tap co-ordinator Rupert Taylor, is just beginning.
It’s telling that the website carries the header: ‘Bringing you closer to the vineyard’, indicating as it does that this is not just some mass-produced, mass-market offering, but a high-quality artisanal product with good provenance.
“It’s our aim to create a more direct connection between vineyard, winemaker and wine drinker, Taylor says, “delivering a wine service that’s more consistently satisfying than ever before.”
Citing benefits in terms of the environment, space, wastage, quality, speed of service and price, Taylor says that, thanks to the Loeb wine on tap format, restaurant-goers will be able to enjoy far more quality wines at affordable prices than ever before.
“What this does is it makes wines that would be £30 more like £22 in a restaurant, and that’s awesome.
“This is 40 times better packaging than bag-in-box in terms of oxygen ingress. And in terms of consistency it’s 100 times better.
“I’ve worked with restaurants that use bag-in-box for wine on tap in the past and the consistency within the pallet of wine was up and down, up and down – there was a lot of oxidisation, you have to use a lot more sulphur than bottle or keg…”
Tapping into the on-trade
A significant feature of Loeb on Tap is the business’s willingness to respond to customers’ needs and develop a bespoke wine offering.
“We try and find people who are particularly good at what they do and we try to work around them, people who are really passionate, work really hard and care about their customers – all the things that we do,” says Taylor.
He cites the example of Morito, which is now trialling what is thought to be the first ever Montilla on tap, from Lagar Blanco, a producer never before exported out of the Montilla region. This was introduced as an exclusive trial following discussions with Morito’s Sam Clark.
Other interesting offerings include a limited edition Savigny-lès-Beaune from pioneering Burgundy micronegociant Andrew Nielsen of Le Grappin and a Weissburgunder from Baden star winemaker Claus Schneider – available at Michelin-starred Trinity and the newly opened Caravan Bankside.
Meanwhile Martello Hall, which is due to open imminently in London Fields, is set to boast as many as 12 wines from Loeb on tap, which will make it the company’s biggest wine on tap venue yet.
While Martello Hall may not quite be ready to open its doors, in the pages that follow are 10 of London’s best venues in which to enjoy wine on tap…