Mike Dawson, winemaker at South Africa’s Journey’s End, speaks about his fondness for the Harwood Arms, reveals why he enjoys visiting urban wineries and explains why nothing compares to London’s wine scene.
What is your favourite restaurant in London and why?
It has to be the Harwood Arms. I visited this magic pub in 2017 and timed my visit, co-incidentally, with the newly appointed sommelier having to bin end a load of wines that were no longer on their list. As a result, I ended up drinking a 1991 Mosel Riesling which blew my mind. It was certainly the most interesting wine I have ever tasted!
Where / what is your favourite wine offering in London and what would be your go-to first glass of wine when you get there?
I really loved visiting the Urban Wineries dotted around London. It was such an alien concept to me – having spent the last 5 years living in a beautiful farm house in the Stellenbosch mountains, overlooking lush vines where the grapes only have to travel a mere 100 metres to the winery.
I couldn’t believe the quality of the wine coming from a few tanks in a small building in south west London, London Cru winery is definitely worth a visit, and if you can’t make it to the winery then keep a look out for their ‘Gresham Street’ Grenache, a particular favourite.
How does London compare to other big global cities in terms of the wine lists you find there?
Nothing compares to London. It’s a totally epic city, and in my opinion, the food and wine hub of the world! To have a city that has so many varying suburbs, with some more gentrified than others, all boasting out of this world dining experiences is totally insane.
Soho used to be where all the best restaurants are in my mind, but now the variety is amazing. It is expensive for me (remember I deal in rands), but I think one would have to be a little naïve to expect a bargain when going out for a meal. You pay for the experience, service and of course great food and drink! Good wine is priceless – London has it all.