Restaurant Gordon Ramsay
68 Royal Hospital Road, SW3 4HP
WLC Rank : 17
Glass from : £ 7 (125 ml)
BEST FORThe consistency and expertise of James Lloyd
Considered food and wine matching
Ready to drink wines
Flights of Grange, Opus One, Chateau Margaux, Chateau d’Yquem, Quinta Noval
Sommelier, James Lloyd went from Croydon to Chelsea where he is devoted to one of the country's most considered and food-focused lists.
“I am fortunate to be in such a position and will never take it for granted,” says the head sommelier of Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road, James Lloyd. His history at the glamorous, bijou dining room began in 2002 when he worked as commis sommelier. Today his role at the long three Michelin-starred mother-ship which has also historically been attended to by Ronan Sayburn MS and Jan Konetzki, involves, “being a mentor, leader, accountant, negotiator, cellar-man and most importantly, a guide to our guests,” he says. “On a broader scope, it’s about communicating with the entire wine team across the group to ensure each restaurant has everything they require to operate at the highest standard and we all regularly meet to create new ideas.” Lloyd also liaises with Gordon Ramsay himself, “investing heavily to build a great portfolio of wines to lay down so guests can benefit for many years to come.”
Lloyd’s “barometer” at all times is the wants and needs of his guests. “The guest is king. I listen to, and observe, what they require and create the list accordingly, leaning towards maturity as such wines exude more elegance and balance which works better with chef Matt Abe’s food. Practically, the list is always an evolution however we have noticed a move towards requests for Burgundy and Bordeaux with Italy close behind.” Regarding the latter country, Lloyd found recently re-engaged with the Alto Adige through a family holiday. “The clarity of the wines impressed me – pure, clean and direct which plays to my rather classic palate.”
Wines must “make sense for the money,” ranging from Château Bauduc Bordeaux Sauvignon Blanc from the likeable Gavin Quinney in Créon, “our house wine since the early 2000s” to Domaine de la Romanée-Conti which features its own page. “I introduced little facts such as size of vineyard, annual production and the average age of the vines to explain why these wines are as valuable and revered as they are.’
Lloyd and Abé spend a remarkable four-to-six weeks ensuring wines and dishes dovetail. He gives an example. “For each course of an amazing Château Margaux dinner, there were two vintages of the same wine. After weeks of discussion and tasting between us, Matt came up with a native lobster dish with heirloom carrots, calamansi, fennel and vanilla velouté with the totally different Pavillon Blanc 2016 and 1996. One of many highlights of the evening.”
Lloyd uses tools to aid perfect service, such as, recently implemented, the small, simple and effective digital pen thermometer, “to continuously check temperatures discretely, especially on decanted wines. Such an important part of wine service that largely gets ignored.
By Douglas Blyde.