What's New at artisan & vine?

This blog site includes news on latest wines, food, events, offers and happenings at artisan & vine. It also includes stories of my wine adventures in and outside the bar, wine facts and wine profiles.

Friday, 17 September 2010

St John's Hill Festival - What a Day!

What a cracking day we had last Sunday on St John’s Hill! The weather could not have been better and the neighbourhood spirit in full force reminded me a thousand times over how lucky we are to be a part of the St John’s Hill community.

The Mayor of Wandsworth, Councillor Piers McCausland (pictured above) said: “It is heartening to have this newborn event, pulsing with ‘can do’ and fun at such a strategic location within the local community.” Of course, Piers came by Artisan & Vine to say hello and congratulate us on Artisan & Vine’s recent International Wine Challenge (IWC) award.

Jane Ellison, MP for Battersea also came by Artisan & Vine with some friends to enjoy a bottle of Camel Valley Sparkling Brut, which of course was a massive hit! English sparkling wine continues to be the drink of choice on a sunny day on St John’s Hill!
Images: Top: artisan & vine on festival day, almost all of our seats and tables were outside! Middle: Wandsworth Mayor Piers McCausland (right) and I with the IWC Trophy.

Friday, 10 September 2010

We won the International Wine Challenge Small Independent Merchant of the Year Award!

Last Tuesday Artisan & Vine won the International Wine Challenge (IWC) Award for Small Independent Merchant of the Year. The IWC is the world’s most prestigious and influential wine awards and winemakers and retailers celebrated alike as they received the industry’s highest accolades at the ceremony which took place at the Hilton, Park Lane in London.

Other award winners included Marks & Spencer for Supermarket of the Year, Sainbury's for Environmental Initiative of the Year, and Majestic Wine Warehouses for High Street Chain of the Year.

Artisan & Vine were also shortlisted for English Wine Specialist of the Year, which was won by Waitrose, and Innovator of the Year.

Click here to see the full list of Merchant Award Winners at the International Wine Challenge.

Image: me receiving the incredible trophy from Tim Atkin MW.

Friday, 3 September 2010

St John’s Hill Community Raffle

Hurrah next Sunday, 12 September, is the St John’s Hill Street Festival! A brilliant day out with a surprising amount of things to do. At artisan & vine we’re setting up a whole wine making simulation, complete with the opportunity for you to foot press your own grapes :)

We’re also doing a St John’s Hill Community Raffle. The prize will be drawn on the festival day, 12 September at 4pm outside of the Beehive Pub. All of the businesses on the street will be selling raffle tickets from now up until the draw.

There are around 20 prizes, all donated from businesses on the street including: Helicopter ride around London for 4 people, multi course meals at various St John’s Hill restaurants, beauty treatments and vouchers, wine tasting sessions (at artisan & vine) and more! Tickets are only £1 each and all proceeds go to the St John’s Hill Community Project, aimed at maintaining and enhancing safety, aesthetics and spirit of St John’s Hill.

Click here for more information.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Now open for lunch, leaf teas and espresso coffees!

I have loved sleeping in these last two years, don’t get me wrong. The thing is, since French Head Chef Jeremie took over our kitchen in March this year, I’ve been getting more and more requests for us to do a lunch as well as dinner service. So, roll on the day time opening…
As of next week, 31 August, we’ll be serving lunch, from £5, Tuesday – Sunday, 12noon – 3pm, at artisan & vine. Here’s what’s cooking:

Mussels in a white wine sauceSalad Lyonnaise: poached egg, bacon, croutons
Omelette – with ham, cheese and/or mushroom with a side salad
Tomato, mozarella and pesto on toasted ciabatta with a side salad (V)
Goats cheese tart with French dressed salad (V)
Dolcelatté stuffed mushrooms with garlic mayonnaise (V)
Croque monsieur – cheddar, béchamel and ham with a side salad
Smooth chicken liver pate with toasted bread with a side salad Bruscetta with fresh tomato, basil with a side salad (V)
Plus daily specials

10oz gourmet beef burger
Classic chicken Caesar salad
Salmon fishcake with poached egg, hollandaise sauce & side salad
Seasoned lamb kofta with tzatzki, pita bread and side salad
Vegetable pasta with creamy tomato sauce

Our full dinner, snacks and sweets menus will also be available during lunch time opening hours.

Our new lunch menu and day time opening hours bring with them the need for some exciting new non-alcoholic beverages at artisan & vine.

Firstly, we’re finally getting that espresso machine in. You’ll soon be able to drink fresh Illy cappuccinos, lattes and espressos in our comfy sofas with great music.

Secondly, having conducted some extensive taste testing we’ve selected some gorgeous, natural leaf teas that we’ll now be serving at artisan & vine. The black tea I’ve selected is from one of the last few tea gardens in Kenya to produce leaf teas (others supply teabags grades). Our chai whole leaf tea is infused with cinnamon, aniseed, ginger, black pepper, cloves, chicory roots, cardamom seeds and cardamom pods. We have whole leaf earl grey and peppermint, as well as a special balancing infusion made of cinnamon pieces, cardamom, liquorice roots, coriander, fennel, ginger roots, and rose petals. Your favourite leaf tea will be served with an individual filter (pictured), for you to control exactly how much infusion you’d like.Of course our new teas and coffees will be available whenever we’re open, so are also perfect for a relaxing evening out.

Friday, 20 August 2010

Screw vs Cork

Frustratingly, I recently opened a bottle of Le Grand Prebois Blanc, and it was faulty. Instead of smelling like peaches, almonds and marzipan, it smelt much like dirty wet socks. The surprising thing about this was: Le Grand Prebois Blanc is sealed by a screw cap, shouldn’t it be more immune to bottle faults?

Wines stoppered under screw caps will not be “corked”, that musty effect that occurs when chlorine, mould and cork meet to ruin an otherwise lovely beverage. Screw caps have their own, if less common, flaws. Because screw caps offer a tighter closure than cork, there is a greater chance of a wine being “reduced”, ie, not having enough oxygen in the bottle. A reduced wine can smell of cabbage or rubber, not great for enjoying!

That said, there have been enough studies now that seem to point to screw caps as a superior preservative of wine, both over time and as a resistance to shorter term faults (see Jamie Goode’s Wine Anorak site for more). On account of the newness of screw caps, we don’t have anything other than laboratory simulation of very long term bottle ageing under caps, though premium wine producers like Bonny Doon in California are optimistic and pleased with early results.

The largest complaints against screw caps seem to be customer perception, followed by adherence to tradition. Personally, I’d rather increase the chances that my wine comes without stopper fault, and to that end my preference must be for screw caps. In the least case, it is worth noting that, increasingly, screw caps are not necessarily a sign of a lower quality wine.

Friday, 13 August 2010

St John's Hill Festival 2010

After last year’s massively successful street festival, the community on St John’s Hill has got together to build an even bigger event this year. Even if you don’t live local, make the trip over to the Hill: it’s the closest thing you’ll get to a traditional village fair in London.

Here are a few of the things going on:
· Live music at the BeeHive pub and a Real Ale festival, which will be running in the pub throughout the weekend
· Children's pizza making classes at Tutti Tucci
· Wine making workshop at Artisan & Vine
· The Gold Fish Gala at the Fish Club
· Village Stocks at Potter Perrin
· Books and prints at Regent House Gallery
· BBQ at YumYum and ACE Fusion
· Instant, outdoor spray tans at Facial Attraction
· 'Guess the weight of the Cake' at Lollipop
· Launch of the "Blow Bar" at Alan Foster's hair salon
· The Human Fruit machine at Admiral Carpets
· Face painting at Doodlebug
· A troupe of stilt walking characters
· Huge selection of fresh food & drinks from cuisines around the world, provided by the delicious collection of eateries on the hill.

We also have St John's Hill Festival Raffle - the list of prizes is enormous and tickets are just £1 each - buy yours at any of the shops and businesses on the Hill, in the weeks running up to the festival and on the day itself. Full list of prizes will be published HERE and the draw will take place at 4pm on the festival day, outside the Beehive pub.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

July’s 3 Most Interesting Wine Stories

As August 2010 launches into our lives, I thought it worth a little look back at July 2010. Here are what I reckon are the 3 most interesting wine stories for last month:

1. A Spanish ice wine was given official Denominacions (DO) status for the first time ever. This is particularly scandalous because it is the first European ice wine to allow artificial freezing of grapes. The traditional ice wine regions – Germany, Austria and Canada – only allow natural freezing of grapes on the vines. As you may guess, artisan & vine will be boycotting artificied Spanish ice wine.

2. Automated wine dispensers launched in the US. Brilliant. A vending machine for wine in a supermarket. You need to insert an age ID card and pass the breathalyzer installed on the machine then push a button.

3. Momentum grows for “Vins de France”, an alternative to the arguably outdated French appellation controllee (AOC) system. Vins de France will allow wines to be blended across regions for “more consistent” flavours. The wines will be labelled by grape variety, to compete with New World wines. This is the opposite of creating wines with a sense of place; register Boycott #2 for artisan & vine this month.

Image: amidst news stories and innovations, wine at it's best continues to originate from simple, healthy grape vines.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Our 2 Year Birthday Party!

Tonight is our big 2 Year Birthday party, to which all of our regulars and enthusiasts are invited!
Celebrations will start as soon as we open, at 6pm and continue on till late.
As a thank you for all of your support, we’ll be giving you 2 free glasses of wine on the night. Friends of artisan & vine need only show your membership card on the night. For all others on this mailing list, please print out the voucher attached here and bring it along to redeem your two free drinks on the night.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

International Wine Challenge Merchant Awards

This is really exciting. artisan & vine has been shortlisted for three incredible awards in the 2010 International Wine Challenge Merchant Awards. artisan & vine has been nominated for:
· Small Independent Merchant of the Year;
· Innovator of the Year; and,
· Specialist Merchant of the Year - English Wine,
I’m so stoked for us simply to be shortlisted for the awards. We find out winners in September. Thanks to all of you for your support and enthusiasm over the past 2 years that has made us the sort of place so many people enjoy great wine at.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Cocktails are here!

I did a lot of soul searching about this. Should a specialist wine bar sell cocktails?
Do the cocktails interfere with the wine? No
Do the cocktails prevent people from experiencing our wines? No
Do I have any moral or philosophical objection to cocktails? Not at all!
Does having cocktails on our menu open up a whole new way for people to enjoy the atmosphere and ambience of artisan & vine? Yes
Well let's do it then!
We're starting small... to make certain we can get it right, I think there are few things worse than a badly made cocktail and few things better than a well made one!

Here's our list:

Bloody Mary, Classic Champagne Cocktail, Cosmopolitan, Mojito, Pimms Cocktail

Long Island Iced Tea, Melon Ball, Pimms Cocktail, Pomegranate Margarita, Woo Woo

We look forward to seeing you for an ice cold refreshing cocktail at artisan & vine soon!