10 London wine-focused pubs and bars to visit when they reopen

The 10 Cases

Blyde says: Staffordshire-born, Leeds-raised, environmental sustainability graduate, Alexander Pitt, previously worked at Lee Westcott’s Typing Room (RIP) before joining Covent Garden’s, The 10 Cases, replete with a soundtrack featuring The Kinks and The Beach Boys.

Pitt is joint wine buyer with Charlotte Moran for the Bistrot à Vin and adjacent Cave á Vin. These were opened by friends, Will Palmer and Ian Campbell to challenge the observed formality and excessive mark-ups they encountered elsewhere in the capital.

Neatly, the Bistrot’s list highlights white wines, such as the Muscat/Assyrtiko blend, Greek Connection (J. Ligas), 10 reds (Cabernet Franc “Seaside” Geyer Wine Co. Barossa), plus fizz, rosé, sweet wines and the odd sake, all available by the glass, carafe and bottle. The USP being, wines are only every purchased in 10 case orders. “It’s a fantastic, huge challenge to compile that list,” notes Pitt, recalling the purchase of old vine Tempranillo from Pisa-proximate vineyards which “vanished” after two weeks on the list. “Before I happened upon that wine, I’d met a customer who was convinced Tempranillo came from Italy and, in disbelief, I’d tried my hardest to keep a straight face…”

Alongside, dishes by head chef, Chris Mathias, who earned his spurs in France and Canada, show “simple plating” says Pitt, being “French in style and really flavour-focused.” These might include snail and roast garlic feuillant, smoked Morteau sausage with Puy lentils, and a brilliant coq au vin, followed, perhaps by espresso trifle with mascarpone and honeycomb.

Opened two years after the Bistrot in 2013, the Cave á Vin wine bar, shop and cellar offers the same plates as the Bistrot, albeit on a walk-in only basis come evenings. Here, the list is more voluminous, pivoted at 300 bins and offered at retail price to take-away or subject to a modest £15 corkage to drink within.

Bottles are often raised wines in the venue’s substantial cellars, “and a lot of stuff won’t see the list for quite a while,” says Pitt. Preference is given to lower-intervention wines, he says. “When I first started in restaurants, I wasn’t focused on sustainable viticulture, but The Typing Room proved to be an eye-opener, being very natural wine-focused.” Compared to The Typing Room, Pitt has now “learnt to identify wine faults – and if something sticks out, I can’t buy it.”

Pitt recently visited Eastern Austria’s Burgenland. The trip, “organised off my own back,” revealed how much he “really liked Blaufränkisch” as well as the country’s minute amounts of Furmint.

Be sure to visit sister seafood restaurant, Parsons, over the road for happy hour oysters at the window sill counter.

When not working, you may find studious Pitt reading wine books, or enjoying the soils of “buzzing” Shoreditch, and at Levan, Peckham.

The 10 Cases remains closed. Gift vouchers are available to purchase online here. 

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