Wine List Confidential: Amphora
Amphora, a wine bar and merchant promising “Adventures in Wine” recently celebrated its first anniversary under the tenure of aspirant Master of Wine, Cong Cong Bo, who was recognised in CODE’s 2023 Hospitality Women of the Year as having “quickly risen to become one of the country’s most important wine figures”. She has also been described as “an example for others to follow” by Harper’s Wine & Spirit (Top 25 Sommeliers 2022) and “bright” by Jancis Robinson MW. The holder of an MA in Medical Sciences from Cambridge University, Bo prides herself in using her academic background to foster, she says, “an understanding of the origins of flavours and textures in wine.”
Once an adult shop, the relaxed setting, illuminated by distinctive lights, with fuchsia-tipped chairs, miniature knitted hats adorning selected bottles and a miniature amphora on display, is located close to the rejuvenated railway station, off Mill Road, an area which remains a beacon of individuality in a city marred by often vertigo-inducing rents. It takes the name of the amphorae used historically to “make, store, transport, and preserve wine and other products,” says Bo, who notes their increasing popularity in modern winemaking. “The amphora therefore symbolises the integration of old and new, and how innovation can result from reflecting on history,” she adds.
The knowingly esoteric list of approximately 75 wines by the glass, is made possible by Coravin technology. Indeed, Bo secured an interview with Greg Lambrecht, founder of the preservation system, at Cambridge Union’s Chamber, home to Cambridge’s Debating Society. Examples of pours, which are weighed on a scale rather than measured in a thimble, may include the amber Rkatsiteli Qvevri from Kakheti’s Chateau Svanidze, Transylvanian Feteasca Neagra “Dracula 555” (a number apparently auguring good fortune) and Vallepicciola Mordese Cabernet Franc from Tuscany. While on the subject of Italy, guests seeking Prosecco, which Bo finds tedious, will likely be offered Guerrieri Bianchello Spumante from Marche instead, or Hundred Hills Preamble No. 2. Regarding the latter, the brave Bo is orchestrating a winemaker event for the Oxfordshire sparkling producer in the very heart of Cambridge. Guests are also invited to select full bottles from the retail shelves to drink within, onto which a modest £6 corkage applies.
In addition to wine, Bo features a short though meaningful collection of Armagnac and has just created a white truffle martini starring Wolfrest Alba gin, Gaia Wild Ferment Assyrtiko in lieu of vermouth, and two types of caperberry.
Under the auspices of its director, Zoltan Gabor, Bo draws from the impressive neighbouring delicatessen and cheese affineur, Culinaris, regarding edible accompaniments such as Nocellara olives, ripe unpasteurised Sinodun Hill goat’s cheese, thoroughly truffled anchovies and truffled crisps. Coming soon: homemade vinegar combining core Amphora wines. She also hosts a monthly collaboration with “The Foraging Chef”, Steve Thompson, “who makes exuberantly flavourful five-course tasting menus which are a joy to pair a tasting flight of 10 wines with,” she says.
Amphora at one year old is perhaps oxymoronically as popular as it is provocative, attracting, says Bo, “a diverse and eclectic group which includes a few crazies, united by discernment, curiosity, and adventurousness in their exploration of wine.” Such loyal regulars even formed their own WhatsApp group which forms the basis for communication of what has become known as the “Amphora family”. In coming years, expect an expansion in the footprint of the premises and, should her ascent continue at the current pace, a significantly wider role beyond it for the estimable Cong Cong Bo, who is progressing towards being one of the most interesting, authentic and memorable voices in wine…
-Authored wine finds from paths less trodden
-Cheeses from Culinaris
-Resident poodle, Jobs (named after the co-founder of Apple Computers)
Value: 94, Size: 86, Range: 90, Originality: 95, Experience: 93, Total: 91.6
Amphora – 1A Devonshire Rd, Cambridge, CB1 2BH; 07441 456145 (WhatsApp) firstname.lastname@example.org; amphoracambridge.com