Lady of The Grapes
16 Maiden Lane, Covent Garden, WC2E 7NJ,
WLC Rank : 83
Glass from : £ 8 (125 ml)
BEST FOREarth-friendly wines made by women
Punchy “French tapas” dishes
Appropriately located on Maiden Lane, Lady of The Grapes showcases “organic, biodynamic, natural and vegan” wines which have been “touched by a woman”.
Carole Bryon previously worked at Hackney’s The Grocery Wine Vault where she attuned her palate to “natural” wine “liking that it left me with less of a headache.” And on the run-up to opening Lady of The Grapes, Bryon did a stage at Terroir.
Born in Paris, Bryon spent eight years as an advertising art director, her creative skills evident in the logo which she designed for Lady of The Grapes, as well as its cosily hand-crafted interior which she realised, featuring handmade shelves, lamps and posture-righting chairs.
A relative newcomer to the wine business, Bryon felt “frustration” on seeing an industry weighted towards men. “We see more women taking the lead and being in charge of vineyards, so let’s shine a light on them,” she reasons. Of some 200 bottles, highlights may include Nobody’s Perfect Sauvignon Blanc from Monfaucon, Bordeaux made by hairdresser turned “energetic” winemaker, Dawn Jones-Cooper, the skin-contact Australian Amrit Pinot Gris by Shashi Singh, Australia’s first Indian-born winemaker (Mornington Peninsula) and Post Flirtation Zinfandel/Carignan from California’s Contra Costa. made by “poster child” for natural wine, Martha Stoumen.
Be sure to ask to see Bryon’s pillar box red guest book which is signed by winemakers who have visited, “moved to see a candle in their bottle!”
Do not assume a predilection for wines crafted by the stronger sex mean men are discouraged from crossing the threshold. Indeed, Bryon reports there’s “a lot of love” at Lady of The Grapes. And perhaps in order to help highlight their feminine side, Bryon notes “we often receive requests at the time of booking from men who want us to explain the concept at the table.” In addition, chef, Eliott Buchet (previously of Jeremy’s, Borde Hill) is male, albeit realising dishes such as smoked swordfish Carpaccio with sauce verge, beef tartare with horseradish yoghurt, snail croquettes with tarragon mayonnaise, and crémet nantais with the vital assistance of Magdalena Kowalow.
During the lockdown, Bryon created a “survival wine box” for delivery, and later converted her wine bar to a delicatessen, selling cheeses and charcuterie alongside the vinous stock.
When not running this super little wine bar, Bryon, who lives in Barnet, continues to study the WSET diploma and relishes finding moments to paint sometimes “dark” pictures of “insects and octopuses”.
By Douglas Blyde