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

Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels

Blyde says: Inquisitive wine director of the enterprising Experimental Group, Roman Jaën has authored a fascinating, depthful and sometimes mischievous list at the beautifully designed, softly lit, two-floor wine bar and counter that is Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels, Neal’s Yard. The location is named after the seventeenth-century MP, Master of the Mint, Groom of the Bedchamber and with little doubt, wine lover to boot, Thomas Neale.

Harking from Burgundy which he visits as often as monthly, Jaën previously worked for Pierre Gagnaire at Sketch London and helped open the European debut of The Peninsula, Paris.

Recently, Jaën concentrated on developing his impressive range of grower Champagnes, respectfully listing the terroirs of the growers. He also increased the detailed Burgundy selection, seeking out young gun producers. Of the sometimes vertigo-inducing prices such wines can attract, Jaën notes: “People always talk about price but less so, quality, and the last vintages from 2014 on have been so good, coupled with better winemaking and technological precision. You can feel the improvement when you are there.”

From elsewhere in France, Jaën builds impressive flights of wines from the likes of Grange de Pères, “which was one of the first fine wines I tried,” and, showing exceptional value, features Alsace picks from Boxler, Ostertag and Weinbach, perhaps best savoured alongside head chef, Gulien Guedon’s foie gras, miso and kasha. From Spain, he looks beyond Rioja and Ribera del Duero to bottles such as the amphora-aged Priorat, Terroir al Limit, which could accompany beef tartare with herring and colatura, or the pitch-perfect pigeon pithivier. With crème caramel and vanilla cream, try an ancient Maderia or Quinta do Noval’s 2000 Colheita, “which they bottled in Imperial just for me.” Finish with satisfying filter coffee by the nearby merchant, Monmouth.

Appealing to brave customers and visiting sommeliers alike, Jaën promises a free bottle of the day’s “Mystery Wine” if a glass of it is correctly deduced.

Jaën also looks after the wine lists at the Experimental Group’s “bed and beverage” hotels at London’s Henrietta Street replete with Basque-influenced sharing plates, the 40-bedroom Il Palazzo Experimental in the former headquarters of La Adriatica shippers, Venice, and Verbier’s Experimental Chalet.

Indeed, he takes particular pleasure in exploring the vinous territory of Switzerland, where he discovered fragrant Gamay by Domaine de Beudon from biodynamically grown grapes gripping the granite mountain overlooking the chalet. Back in England, he applies “the smallest margin I can” to Swiss wines, including bottles reaped from the one-hectare site tended by Olivier Pittet. “When I do something I like to do it in-depth,” says Jaën .

Jaën describes the atmosphere of the 60-cover venue, including counter, as “chilled by day, with loud 1990s French hip-hop and American jazz by night.”

When not on business for the Experimental Group, you might see Jaën at Quality Wines, “one of my favourite places in London, which has a wine for every wallet,” or perhaps rekindling his love of judo…

Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels is offering food and wine, which are available for next day delivery. Click here for more information. 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Subscribe to our newsletters