438 Kings Road, Chelsea, SW10 0LJ
WLC Rank : 75
Glass from : £ 7 (150 ml)
BEST FORStrong by the glass selection
Gutsy, generous cooking, including duck egg and heart tart with red wine sauce
A nexus for the local wine trade
Wine service is nothing without good service in general, notes Catelo. “Working together - sommeliers, front of house, chefs and kitchen porters - is the key to success.”
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.