WLC recommends: Sessions Arts Club, Clerkenwell

“The mood is part artists’ commune, part chic hotel, and it feels the perfect venue for the excellent, understated chef Florence Knight – previously best known for her work at Polpetto – to choose to set up court,” wrote Grace Dent in The Guardian of Clerkenwell Green’s Sessions Arts Club.

The venue – the palette of which echoes the jars of pickles preserved by Knight – is brought to you by artist Jonny Gent, designer Russell Potter and consultant Jon Spiteri. Art, including ethereal silvery legs hanging from the ceiling, is everywhere, including on the wine list which has an illustration by Gent of a tearful Tom Cruise.

The wine list at the lofty, stripped back, former judges’ dining room includes half bottles of LBV Port as “a little nod to the judges who dined in the room before we did”, according to head of wine Molly Pepper Steemson. Created in collaboration with merchant Keeling Andrew & Co. of Noble Rot fame, whose magazine Steemson contributes to, the wine list, draws largely from Italy, from which she recently enjoyed the “amazing” 1955 Vallana Spanna. Prized bins include the wines of I Custodi and La Stoppa’s Vino del Volta. Of the latter, Steemson says: “It’s a classic, non-classic-classic sweet, not-too-sweet, delicious perfect wine, and the only dessert wine I know which I could finish a bottle of on my own.”

With the chocolate tart by head chef, cockapoo owner and Champagne lover Florence Knight (formerly of Polpetto), Steemson matches Argyros Vinsanto. “It’s not just the sweetness and acidity of the wine that works with the tart but also the texture and even the colour. A perfect pairing.”

Over time, adhering to the modus operandi “less breadth, more depth”, Steemson will look ever deeper into Italy as well as France, “and expand our offering from the early 2000s”.
Steemson is also an artist, famed for what she terms “dead fish erotica”. She explains: “I started taking photos of fish at work and at fishmongers quite a few years ago. Then I started bringing it home and putting them on the internet.”

Score: 88.7 Price: 87.5 Size: 88 Range: 88 Originality: 90 Experience: 90

To pick up a copy of the 2022 Wine List Confidential guide, click here.

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