438 Kings Road, Chelsea, SW10 0LJ
WLC Rank : 64
Glass from : £ 7 (150 ml)
BEST FORStrong by-the-glass selection
Gutsy, generous cooking
A serious cheeseboard
Riesling, the Rhône and increasing Italian wines selection
Newly-risen head sommelier of a haven for wine lovers, Medlar in Chelsea, Melania Battiston aims to become the first Italian female Master Sommelier.
At Chelsea’s Medlar, near the World’s End neighbourhood – possibly titled because of the once considerable distance from it to central London – Didier Catelo strives to reflect the internationalism of London via the pages of his 600-bin list. This he describes as, “eclectic, multicultural, historical and forward-looking.”
A detester of Gewürztraminer, Catelo is personally particularly interested in Eastern Europe, to the extent he owns a “wine cottage” in Modra, Slovakia.
Catelo, who was previously wine buyer for Ernst and Young, with a sortie at The Ledbury, wants, “and believes we deserve,” Medlar’s Michelin star back for wholesome dishes, by co-owner and head chef, Joe Mercer Nairne, who studied Archaeology and Anthropology at Oxford University. To qualify a place on the wine list, a bottle must mirror the philosophy of Nairne’s food, “being generous, welcoming, deliciously good, and with identity,” says Catelo. Hence, Cornish lamb rump with sweetbreads, potato terrine, tapenade, Roscoff onion and rainbow chard, could be matched “with the lovely Bourgueil La Coudraye from Yannick Amirault – a pairing brought to my attention by my assistant Melania,” says Catelo. “Proof that working together is a success!”
Catelo notes both wine and music are related to art. “Both affect the enjoyment of life. Both must give me chills, a sensation which climbs up inside of me, makes me express a ‘Wow!’ like having El Duende, this intense emotional state so intrinsic to Flamenco. As music is everywhere, I often play jazz, such as Miles Davis when reading a wine magazine, like Wine List Confidential!”
Guests value the “efficient, welcoming, courteous and knowledgeable service,” as much as they do Austrian Rieslings, rested Northerly Rhônes and sleek Barbarescos at Medlar, Catelo believes. “They want us to inspire confidence, instil trust and make them feel home. Let’s get back to the basics and exceed their expectations.”
Incidentally, Catelo’s “fantasy” would be to be able to grow Vitis Vinifera on the Caribbean island of Marie-Galante, Guadeloupe, “to make straw wine dried on a mat of sugar cane. Who knows?”
By Douglas Blyde.
Head Sommelier, Didier Catelo was previously wine buyer for Ernst and Young, with sorties at The Ledbury, Hotel Du Vin, and in Paris, Le Bistrot du Sommelier. He also worked the ultimately lucky 2012 harvest at Domaine Jean-Louis Chave, an experience he describes as ‘humbling’.
Medlar’s engaging wine list is a reflection of London, says Catelo, ‘being eclectic, multicultural, historical and forward-looking’ – not unlike the ethos of the designer, Vivienne Westwood whose boutique is a few doors down the King’s Road. His by-the-glass selection offers a window into the greater list, which may include atypical, even punk, ‘Zind’ – a Chardonnay and Auxerrois from Zind-Humbrecht, Orange Airén from La Mancha, as well as Portugal’s Post Scriptum, and Palo Cortado sherry.
To qualify a place on Catelo’s list, a wine must mirror the philosophy of Medlar’s food, explains Catelo, ‘being generous, welcoming, deliciously good, and with identity.’ Of the world as a vineyard, Catelo is lyrical. ‘There are pearls in every ocean, sea, lake and river – the Great Rift Valley, or a grape such as Koshu in Japan, or a cuvée such as El Molar from Casa Castillo…’ Catelo particularly hopes to expand the offer from the Balkans, too, which he regularly visits, ‘but without falling over in the fashionable side.’
Expect a rich seam of Champagne and sparkling wines, including Charles Heidsieck’s Blanc des Millenaires, Billecart-Salmon’s Brut Sous Bois, and Steven Spurrier’s Brut Reserve from Dorset’s Bride Valley, as well as enigmatic sparkling Gamay in the form of Jean-Paul Brun’s FRV100 which sounds like a superbike. In terms of still wine, there is a big bang of France, Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain, as well as dry Furmint from Hungary, Swiss Chardonnay, Moroccan Syrah, and Sangiovese from Victoria, Australia, as well as a neat selection from the USA and Canada.
Wholesome dishes, by co-owner and head chef, Joe Mercer Nairne, who studied Archaeology and Anthropology at Oxford University, may include starter of crisp calf’s brain salad with aioli, smoked duck, pickled red onion and king oyster mushroom, then grilled turbot with baby squid, dashi, sea kale, monk’s beard and shimeji mushrooms, and finally, forced rhubarb with pistachio cake, Greek yoghurt and orange zest.
Wine service is nothing without good service in general, notes Catelo. ‘Working together – sommeliers, the front of house, chefs and kitchen porters – is the key to success…’
NB. £10 corkage applies at lunch; £25 at dinner.
By Douglas Blyde.
A Chelsea stalwart, Medlar’s charming wine list is curated by head sommelier and buyer, Didier Catelo who joined the team in March 2017.
Didier’s previous posts include stints at The Ledbury, Hotel Du Vin and Le Bistrot du Sommelier in Paris. Its wine list, like its white and green interior, is clean, fresh and neatly laid out, running the gamut from classic French, Italian and Spanish to Australia, South Africa and beyond. The breadth of choice and vintage within each region is as wide as it is bold, with a bottle of Pegasus Bay Riesling from New Zealand’s Waipara Valley listed alongside Galician Albarino and Hungarian Furmint, to a rather tempting bottle of 2006 Vosne-Romanée 1er Cru Aux Malconsorts, Domaine Dujac.
The restaurant owned by chefs Joe Mercer Nairne and David O’Connor, both graduates of Chez Bruce, who together have built up a reputation for quality food, fair prices and impeccable service. Its signature crab ravioli with samphire and brown shrimps in a fondue of leeks and bisque sauce is a must.
By Lauren Eads, 2017