The wine list of Seamus Williams-Sharkey shows an understanding of the relevance of food-friendly acidity at Brett Graham’s dining destination.
A seamless dining experience
The 1991 born head sommelier of the two Michelin-starred, Notting Hill favourite of international well-heeled dining cognoscenti, Seamus Williams-Sharkey, recently spent six hours visiting Rioja’s Bodegas Lopez de Heredia, nosing wines back to 1942. Back in London, the Notably media shy fellow, whose CV includes Story, puts ‘guest expectations at the forefront of his approach to wine service’ according to the restaurant’s website.
An avid surveyor of the hospitality scene, Williams-Sharkey, according to his Instagram account, has, in his spare time, conquered bottles at Denmark’s Amass, Manfreds and Ved Stranden 10 Vinhandel & Bar, Spain’s Kaia Kaipe and closer to home, The Sportsman, Seasalter, and in London, Hunan, Lorne, The 10 Cases, Parsons, Spring, Winemakers Deptford, as well as Chez Bruce. The latter, along with La Trompette, The Glasshouse and The Ledbury - and formerly, The Square, is owned by perfectionist restaurateur, Nigel Platts-Martin, who, like Williams-Sharkey, is also not known for an embracing attitude to giving interviews in the press.
The wine list shows an understanding of the relevance of food-friendly acidity. The sometimes idiosyncratic, jolie laide digest may feature a very well aged Gourt de Mautens Rhône rosé, Fie Gris from the Loire, Vin Jaune from the Jura, Manzoni Bianco from Northern Italy, and plenty of Gruner Veltliners dating back to the time Deep Blue defeated Kasparov, as well as the darling of the sommelier on account of its uncompromising freshness, the as dry as Jack Dee, Hungarian Furmint. There are also plenty of clusters of Burgundy including those salvaged from the damp Diamond Jubilee year of 2012, and Bordeaux, including Haut-Brion, and not quite Haut-Brion, La Mission Haut-Brion, plus lots of Beaujolais which could help plug the gaps during inconvenient financial downturns. Following a trip to Australia, expect, potentially, more zeal in listing wines from down under, too.
£50-60 per bottle seems to be a sweet-spot, where you might have clos encounters with Clemens Busch Mosel Riesling, Moment of Silence (Blank Bottle), Veneto Carmenere (Più, Inama), and biodynamic Bordeaux (Château Falfas).
Suavely realised by Brett Graham and head chef, Greg Austin, well-spaced, low, rather than towering dishes, from the set lunch, which costs £10 more than that of the three Michelin-starred Restaurant Gordon Ramsay, could include Cumbrian veal tartare with artichoke oil and aged beef fat on toast alongside a measure of Jura Trousseau (Marnes Blanches, Saint Agnès), and Dorset Sika deer with roast celeriac, pear and cepes with Vas de la Ira from Daniel Gómez of the Gredos mountains south west of Madrid - a favourite of Jancis Robinson OBE. Dinner, meanwhile, could feature Cornish turbot, califlower and bonito.
Take note, on the spirits front, if entertaining prosperous North American envoys, the good value doubles of select Bourbon, Pappy Van Winkle's, 23, available within.
By Douglas Blyde.
Nigel Platts-Martin is one of the most meticulous restaurateurs around, and wine is always at the core of every one of his venues. Sommeliers are at the top of their game, stemware is perfect, and the selection is as deep as it is broad.
The wine list is overseen by head sommelier Seamus Williams-Sharkey, who began his career at The Dormy House in the Cotswolds before spending time at The Nut Tree Inn in Oxfordshire and Hampton Manor in Solihul. Before joining The Ledbury, Seamus was also head sommelier at Restaurant Story. The Ledbury has been buying in and storing wine religiously over the past 10 years, allowing it to pull out older vintages across the whole group.