Tate Britain, Millbank, SW1P 4RG
WLC Rank : 16
Glass from : £ 4.90 (125 ml)
BEST FORGood vintages at fair prices, often by the half bottle
Smashing Sunday roast
Under the care of Gustavo Medina, Rex Whistler's cellar continues to carefully invest in wines to drink in the artful environment.
Gustavo Medina believes managing, maintaining and selling a traditional wine cellar is both “a privilege” and “great fun.”
Named after the artist and member of the “Bright Young Things” who realised the fantastical wraparound mural, ‘The Expedition in Pursuit of Rare Meats’ here, Tate Britain’s Rex Whistler dining room has long been a haven for wine aficionados on account of its well-curated cellar.
Gustavo Medina has risen to become head sommelier alongside restaurant manager, Matthew Randall, and CEO of Tate Catering, Hamish Anderson. “Many of the wine team “have been at Tate for years,” says Medina, and visits are made annually to Bordeaux and Burgundy to secure wines en-primeur, with regular meetings with new suppliers to continuously evolve the list.
Medina underlines the importance of accruing a large cellar in modern times. “The reason we buy stock to lay down is to help build and secure reputation,” he says. “We have a few wines on our list which cannot be found elsewhere, and a larger collection that cannot be found elsewhere at the price we are selling them. Both would not be possible if we took the traditional next day delivery route.”
The dining room only opens at nighttime for special events, such as Matthew Jukes’ Best Wines of Australia tasting and dinner, an evening with Pierre Koffmann, or the restaurant’s third successive Barolo dinner with Silvia Altare alongside Azelia, Castello di Verduno and Scavino. “We are primarily a lunch-only restaurant and half bottles play a key part in the wine program,” says Medina, hence such finds as: Maximin Grünhauser Abtsberg Kabinett, Conti Costanti Brunello, and, featuring reed dried grapes, Molino Real from Malága. “They are not easy to source, so having the capacity to buy as and when parcels come up (and then cellaring them) is crucial.”
Recently, Medina re-structured the list to include a section on vegetarian and vegan highlighted wines, such as Grossett Polish Hill Riesling and Beaucastel Châteauneuf-du-Pape – available by the half bottle, bottle and magnum.
Begin lunch with a Palo Cortado (Wellington VOS, Hidalgo) and then ask Medina to match your wines with dishes by head chef, Alfio Laudani (formerly of Cipriani, London), which may include starter of mock turtle soup featuring brown meat broth, beef and ham raviolini with root vegetables and mushrooms, followed by grilled fillet of chalk streams trout with sweet potato, broccoli, chilli, almonds, sauce vierge, and finally destination pudding of Tipsy Cake “1850” – a sherry sponge with plums, Armagnac prune ice cream and almond.
By Douglas Blyde.