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

Noble Rot 

Blyde says: Previously Vats, which Australian sommelier, Josh Castle called “a late-night boozer for lawyers,” today’s much souped-up version of Noble Rot is brought to you by dynamic duo Dan Keeling, former MD of Island Records and head of Artists and Repertoire at Parlophone, and Master of Wine, Mark Andrew.

Previously head buyer for Roberson wines, Andrew’s research paper entitled ‘How can dry Assyrtiko from Santorini establish itself as a recognised ‘fine wine’ in the eyes of London’s premium on-trade?’ of course ensures plentiful filigree versions of that grape are included on the tremendously exciting wine list. That document, supplemented by a daily specials Coravin board which causes wine aficionados to “drool,” according to Castle includes wines hitherto available only on merchant allocation.

Castle studied art and believes “wine and art are similar, both being collected cultural artefacts.” To calm his student debt, he worked at City Wine Shop, Melbourne in a “warren-like tall building” opposite Parliament House which includes The European restaurant and its defiantly Old World wine list. He also staged at Jordan winery, Stellenbosch “as part of a small team doing a big harvest, getting a chance to do everything.”

His first job in the UK was at the Oxford Wine Company, being “a soft landing into the UK.” However, Noble Rot would better sate his thirst for vinous “esoterica” alongside rested wines from classic, hallowed producers. He says: “When I came for the interview, they’d just received the Fourier order for that week and my eyes lit up. In at the ‘pointy’ end!”

Castle has helped ensure a plentiful supply of desirable wines between £50-60, “which is where the trade drinks at,” including a “swollen” Beaujolais section, and, in honour of a previous employee who has gone to work there, the skin contact Ageno from La Stoppa.

Alongside the wine bar and restaurant is the well-established Noble Rot magazine, featuring a starry list of contributors and provocative artwork.

Realised by head chef, Paul Weaver are the dishes of consultant chef, Stephen Harris of Whitstable’s The Sportsman. These may include Yorkshire pheasant with duck fat potatoes and Devonshire turbot resourcefully braised in oxidised Chablis. Produce can be so fresh it is “cycled in for service that night” says Castle.

Motivated by vinous discovery, Noble Rot’s team expend much time visiting producers old and new.

“I still try to do a harvest each year, including Hambledon for tirage, Burgundy and Penedès – which sparked a love of the dry reds and whites of Catalunya,” says Castle.

Coming soon, with tastings of boutique Hungarian wines already underway, is Noble Rot’s second business in the former Gay Hussar, Soho.

“We don’t want to take a landmark away from London,” says Castle of the reverential list.

Noble Rot is selling wines from its list for delivery. For more information click here. 

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