New on Wine List Confidential:Vinoteca City

The Vinoteca success story comes to the City in a glamorous form, with a list that champions rare and/or unusual wines with a bit of age and in limited supply.

Co-creator of Vinoteca, Charlie Young has spent ‘a lifetime’ working in bars, restaurants and hotels, he says, ‘starting as a glass collector in a cocktail bar in Sheffield.’ Bitten by the wine bug in his early twenties, Young studied through the WSET, spending seven years in France and Australia before meeting business partner, Brett Woonton in 2000 while working at Liberty Wines. ‘Five years later, we opened Vinoteca, Farringdon.’ With the format honed, the restaurant, bar and retail concept subsequently mushroomed in Marylebone, Soho, Chiswick and King’s Cross, with Vinoteca at the Bloomberg Arcade, complete with prominent bar and private mezzanine, being the latest chapter.

‘Rather than having particular regional specialities, we tend to champion wines from lesser-known corners of their respective countries,’ says Young. These may include, from the Loire, Fiefs Vendeens and Cour-Cheverny, Rousillon (Collioure) and Burgundy (Ladoix); in Italy’s Piedmont (Ruche and Colli Tortonesi), Lombardy (Oltropo Pavese) and Tuscany (Suvereto). ‘But anything can earn its place if it truly well made, great value, and simply delicious.’

Following an importer hosted trip to South Africa ‘and in particular a brilliant tasting at BLANKbottle,’ Young and Woonton tasted an un-bottled Semillon-based blend which blew their minds ‘but divided opinions as to whether it was the ultimate finished article.’ With the separate components of that blend still in barrel, Young and Woonton tweaked, slurped, discussed and finally agreed on the final blend. ‘We’ve now just taken delivery of a pallet of wine which will only be found at the Tate and Vinoteca, the brilliantly named 2017 Young Dander The Sea Shark in recognition of the ‘master blenders’ behind it: Charlie Young (me!), Hamish Anderson from The Tate and Seamus Sharkey from The Ledbury. Damon Quinlan, like the 5th Beatle, receives no credit for his involvement.’

Young particularly enjoys the wine ledger. ‘It’s not a fine wine list, but rather an opportunity to list rare and/or unusual wines with a bit of age but which are in limited supply. The quantities are updated every day, and once something’s gone it’s gone. Current favourite is Huet’s 1989 Vouvray Sec ‘Haut-Lieu’ in half bottles.’

Vinoteca proudly runs a WSET course in-house, ‘hosted by the brilliant Tom Forrest. And everyone that we recruit sits level one as part of their induction, including chefs.’

Dishes at Vinoteca City may include home-cured Loch Duart Salmon with Riesling essence and soda bread, possibly accompanied with a glass from ‘bag in box’ Beret Blanc (Plaimont), then marinated Scottish bavette with Adelaide Hills Montepulciano (Catlin Wines), culminating with Yorkshire rhubarb and white chocolate cheesecake with, from keg, Pink Moscato (Innocent Bystander).

Of the pricing at Vinoteca, Young has always believed in transparency. ‘We make sure we can source our wines at the keenest prices (including shipping direct from France, Spain, Italy, Germany and Australia – and storing in a Bermondsey warehouse – so we can sell them from our shops and online at proper retail prices and then apply a sensible mark-up for the drink-in price, which decreases as the price of the wine increases.’

The various Vinoteca sites have held ‘countless’ winemaker dinners over the years, ‘most of which were truly memorable, such as Paulo de Marchi from Isole e Olena and Eben Sadie – but actually a recent dinner with Alex and John from Birichino, California was genuinely hard to beat.’

Regarding corkage, Young will always consider it, ‘just make a good case for the wine you’re bringing. But the wines on our list are great value!’





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