Wineweek 71: The Winecurious in London

London baby! It is one of my favorite cities in the world. Just like Barcelona, Bangkok, Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo, New York and Paris. I am a sucker for big cities. London, however, is a city I have lived and breathed for almost two years, just before I moved to Stockholm. London is dynamic. It changes constantly without losing its vibrant personality. London will most probably always and never feel like home. Continue reading “Wineweek 71: The Winecurious in London”

London Top-3 Wine Shops

Well hello London! We meet again. Yesterday I stepped of the plane at Heathrow airport to a welcoming 18 degrees (C) and could feel I had come home. My days of actually living in London were short(ish), only one and a half years, but it always feels like the place I am supposed to be. This trip is going to be brief. We are here for two reasons; the main being a visit to London Cru, an urban winery in the heart of the city (Fullham), and the second being food. The rest of the trip, we intend on eating and drinking at nice restaurants. You might call it market research, but I would be lying if I would say it is not enjoyable. Who said work always needs to be boring.

Enough with the babbling. To celebrate my brief return to London, I thought I would bring back a list of my favorite wine-shops and hangouts in the city:

1. A trip to London would not be complete without a pop into the Sampler (the South-Kensington branch), one of the best wine-shops in town. Even if I am not buying, I love that they have a wide range of wines in the sampling machines as well as some sparklings by the glass. One can just pour a small taster into a Riedel Vinum and walk around the shop (or stand by the Champagne shelf drooling as I do it). Click here for a complete review of the Sampler from January.

2. The Winery is a small piece of Germany located close to Warwick Avenue tube. The shop houses a wonderful selection of mainly German, Austrian and French wines. If you are a friend of Pinot, this is the shop to come to for some interesting German Spätburgunder. We also found some wonderful Marie Noelle Ledru Champagne here the last time we visited. Her wines are only available in London through the Winery. Here is a full review of the Winery from January.

3. Our newest find is Vagabond wines. It is a fairly similar to the Sampler, a wine shop and sampling house. Vagabond is perhaps one step more towards being a bar than a shop and is quite crowded with afterworkers in the evening. The selection is also slightly heavier on Spain and new world wines while the sampler houses one of the best champagne selections in the city (grower champagnes I might add). Vagabond also has a nice amount of sampling machines for trying out different wines as well as wines by the glass. What I particularly enjoyed was their charcuterie board that could be ordered as a companion for the wines. Here is a post about Vagabond from our last trip in January.

There are many more shops that I like visiting, but these are my absolute favorite ones. Perhaps it is because you can have a glass of wine while shopping. All in all, I love the variety of shops in London and wish we could have such a selection in Stockholm. Perhaps some day…one can always dream.

A Taste of South Africa at Handford Wines (London)

Following yesterdays review on the Kloof Street Swartland Rouge, I thought it would be nice to write something about the shop where I bought it from, Handford Wines in London. It’s a nice little wine shop in South Kensington, with an interesting selection of wines from around the world.

I mainly ended up here on my way to the Sampler (review here). It’s a cute space with high shelves bulging with wine. I get this old library feel, but instead of books, there are bottles. If I am not mistaken the shop was once occupied by wine merchant La Vigneronne. It is a short walk from South Kensington tube on the slightly charmless Old Brompton Road.

The staff are friendly and knowledgeable and happy to chat about wine. I had the pleasure of trying some interesting Canadian (!) wine from the Niagara Falls region that they were sampling. You don’t run into Canadian wine that often here in Europe, and at least I was very unaware of this wine-region before driving through (from Toronto the Niagara Falls) on a holiday trip in 2010. The Niagara Escarpment (a ridge carved by ancient glaciers) has a good microclimate with fertile soil and adequate rainfall to support vine growing. Looking back to 2010, I remember the excitement when I realized how close I was to all these boutique wineries. However, my travel companion at that time could only be convinced to visit Wayne Gretzky Estates (Finnish men!). Well, that was better than nothing. The Canadian white wine I tasted at Handford Wines was perhaps too sweet for my taste but I am always very happy when invited to try something new. It also highlights the depth of the selection they carry.

What Handford is really great for is wines from South Africa. They are numerous and there is a nice selection from different regions. In addition to the Kloof Street we picked up a Pinot Noir from Cape South Coast (the name really appealed to M: Mr P Knows). There is also a very good selection of French wines and interesting stuff from Portugal and Spain. The prices are decent but the ‘cheaper’ bottles in general seem to be worse value than bottles of £15 and above.

If you are in the area (or searching for some South African or Canadian wine) I recommend popping by. This is perhaps not on my list of top-visits for London wine-shops, but that might change if I get hyped up about South Africa. Right now my focus is on Spain and Portugal (and Champagne), but you never know what’s next. I am insatiable when it comes to learning more about wine.