Les 110 de Taillevent
110 wines by the glass paired expertly with food
Big and sometimes very big bottles
Blind Tasting opportunities
Taillevent was founded in Paris after the end of World War II in tribute to fourteenth century Court cook, Guillaume Tirel (called Taillevent). The London outpost opened in Marylebone in August 2015 with 110 of some 330 bins available by the glass. Christopher Lecoufle claims to be the only person on the floor remaining from opening day. His CV also includes Restaurant Lasserre, Paris, where Antoine Petrus (now Directeur Général, Taillevent Paris) taught him ‘l’art de la table’, with his first role in England being a bursary to work for Master Sommelier and Master of Wine, Gerard Basset OBE at Hotel Terravina in the New Forest. He is currently on track to reaching the full capacity of 1,500 bins by the bottle at Taillevent. ‘We understood guests wanted more, so, little-by-little, brought older vintages over from France.’
Taillevent’s ‘DNA’ is Burgundy, Bordeaux, the Rhône and the Loire, says Lecoufle, ‘including strong partnerships with iconic and small producers.’ Much is imported direct, such as Petit & Bajan Grand Cru Champagne. Lecoufle also enjoys bringing on board New World winemakers, ‘so have almost two pages of red Australia, including Pinot Noir from William Downie, Lethbridge, Mac Forbes, and Ten Minutes by Tractor.’
Lecoufle’s Rolodex contains more than 100 suppliers, from which he ‘cherry picks.’ To keep the significant by-the-glass list fresh, he often buys in increments of just 12 to 18 bottles, ‘keeping a few bottles back for the by the bottle list.’
One might be forgiven for assuming the cellar would extend into the vault of the premises, elegant Grade II former banking hall, built for Coutts. ‘Actually, the kitchen is down there, and the cellar is where documents were kept’ corrects Lecoufle.
Each time Lecoufle visits a producer, he returns with ‘a pocketful of ideas – and I’m currently passionate about Châteauneuf-du-Pape by Julien Brechet of Domaine des Bosquets.’ Lecoufle also appreciates the pull of London to winemakers, which ensures access to picking their brains. ‘I met a producer from Valtellina last week who tends just seven hectares. That doesn’t happen so often in Paris.’
It’s my first book,’ says Lecoufle of the clearly presented, 80+ page tome of a wine list, featuring Taillevent’s logo of a fork within the ‘T’ of Taillevent, and typeface, Palatino. ‘I spent nights writing it and forget how many times I cried when the computer wouldn’t let me implement the desired design!’
Highlights may include the wines of Saint-Estèphe property, Château Phélan Ségur which Taillevent used to own, as well as a long line-up of starry Burgundies. ‘I want to hug winemakers to thank them for what they’re doing – these are wines, with seven or eight years in the bottle, which are about creating an emotion,’ praises Lecoufle.’ Also, the magnum of Corsican, Domaine Giudicelli – ‘not amazing, but if you have a table of eight which doesn’t want to spend a crazy amount, the beautiful gold Vermentino leaves a nice memory.’ And note the Ontario Bachelder, ‘one of the best New World Chardonnays from a producer who also owns estates in Burgundy and Oregon.’ There are wines, too, from Syria and Lebanon, ‘which are also available at the Cellar de Taillevent in Lebanon.’
Of the eerie label of, other than the huge eyes, featureless face on Vinho Tinto, Bastardo from Conceito, Portugal, Lecoufle says it makes him laugh, ‘but if you’re a bit drunk, it can scare you!’ Of the wine, thought, iit is ‘a revelation, almost like a Pinot Noir.’
One interesting development is the customer service Lecoufle performs outside of service. ‘I’m starting to follow guests on Instagram if I have touched the table, so-to-speak, trying to create a connection, continuing a very interesting discussion.’
Dishes, devised by head chef Emile Cotte and realised by Raphael Grima may include spelt lobster risotto, Scottish cod with broccoli and yuzu, and veal rump with langoustine and cauliflower, followed by chocolate, peanut, Caramélia and cocoa sorbet. Each is offered with, available at a glance, a choice of four tiers of wines to pair, hence the aforementioned pudding could be matched with Silver Palm Californian Zinfandel, 10 year old Tawny (Quinta do Noval), Henriques & Henriques 15 year old Boal Madeira, or Rivesaltes Ambre, Dame Jane (Mas Delmas) possibly dispensed, via wine thief, from a 10 litre bottle. ‘More and more guests are choosing two completely different glasses per dish, which I love,’ says Lecoufle. Each glass is tagged with a little printout carrying the wine’s name. ‘I’m proud when people bring these back, which means they really liked it…’
Other than vinous wares, the Normandy born Lecoufle also rates Calvados, as well as Austrian aquavit, classic London gins and cider by the magnum.
By Douglas Blyde.
As one might expect, the modern bistro, located in a former Coutts banking hall – designed by Pierre-Yves Rochon, who also helped revamp The Savoy Hotel – pulls strong focus on La Belle France.
Diners with expense accounts will encounter a grand tour of ready-to-drink Burgundy and Bordeaux, including relative bargains such as 1996 Domaine Leflaive Batard-Montrachet Grand Cru – arguably the best liquid possible to heighten the experience of the epic veal T-bone scented with lemon thyme – and 2004 Haut-Brion, both priced close to retail.
More modestly financed civilians may enjoy the lower prices of the considerable listings from the Loire Valley, South West France, and mountainous Jura and Savoie.
Outside France, the ‘World Wines’ section of the list takes in an impressive catalogue of names from Spain, Italy (where good-value Super Tuscans such as La Massa jostle alongside magnums of Ornellaia), and liquid celebrities from west-coast US, as well as perky and plush offerings from Greece, Cyprus, South America and South Africa.
Glass from : £ 6 (125 ml)
16 Cavendish SquareW1G 9DD
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