7 St John Street, Farringdon, EC1M 4AA
WLC Rank : 69
Cuisine: British and European cuisine
Glass from : £ 4.30 (125 ml)
BEST FORFar-reaching list of wines, spirits and amaros
Wine matching with ingredient-led dishes
In-house wine course
Wines on tap
The original Vinoteca brings charm, diversity and very good taste to the reinvigorated area of London's ornate meat market.
Brett Woonton and Charlie Young met at Liberty Wines five years before launching, with huge care, their first Vinoteca wine bar/wine shop hybrid diagonally opposite St. John restaurant. It features vintage aromatised wine posters from Alfie’s antiques market, Marylebone. “What is exciting for us as Vinoteca turns 15 is that this neighbourhood is about to pop with the opening of Crossrail, relocation of the Museum of London and the Live Nations head office moving into the renovated Farmiloe building, meaning new punters to seduce with our well-sourced, entertaining wines and food!” says Woonton.
Further Vinotecas opened at Marylebone, Chiswick, King’s Cross and the City, the latter of which “gives punters the chance to enjoy wines we collected over the years, subject to a cash margin,” advises Woonton.
Both Woonton and Young remain fully committed to the day-to-day running of the business, “with the help of our talented team.” Indeed, the seasonal updates of the wine list remain “one of the highlights of what we do,” shares Woonton, who relishes taking to the shop floor when the opportunity arises. “Actually, I’ve still got the sales knack.”
Dishes by head chef, Bart Avenia include grilled marinated “vegan bavette” with hand-cut chips and watercress, perhaps paired with the young Rahul from London’s Renegade urban winery. “Our Portobello mushroom, marinated for 24 hours in miso, garlic, thyme and Monstant olive oil works so well with the skin-contact, amphora Bacchus which cuts through the intense umami flavours,” recalls Woonton.
Of that olive oil, Woonton recalls taking 10 of his team to Monstant to do the olive harvest and discover the region’s wines, including the Vi Negre from Celler El Masroig. “Such good understated wines that are amazing value for cash.” On the vein of discovery, each Vinoteca has its own regularly updated “wine paddle” featuring such wines as the best-selling Clare Valley, Rodney and the Horse Shiraz. “Great to see its evolution over three vintages.” Vinoteca also runs “wine labs” with much-loved wine educator, Tom Forrest, “giving punters the chance to try wines that they wouldn’t normally.”
Particular consideration is given to the playlists within the micro-empire. “There’s nothing worse than having a glass of nervy Riesling with a shrieking bit of jazz in the background which brings out the acidity even more, making you drink swiftly and leave,” says Woonton.
Of the various copy-cats of Vinoteca’s winning format, Woonton says, kindly, “it’s great to see such fine wine bars with shops opening meaning, at last, that punters will start to understand that you can buy wines from your local wine bar rather than just the supermarket or shoddy off-licence.”
Despite lockdown woes, expect more of the considered Vinoteca formula imminently, with the duo working on an opening outside of London, at 2 Chamberlain Square, Birmingham.
By Douglas Blyde.