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, 27 November 2009

St John's Hill Christmas Evening

Christmas is only 4 weeks away!
I’m not sure how that happened either. But artisan & vine has a few solutions to help make your Holiday Season a success. artisan & vine stocks a range of elegant wine gift sets, packaging and gift certificates for wine tasting sessions. We also have a range of mixed cases and value priced wines to use during your Christmas entertaining. The full range of Christmas products is available at the bar or via our online shop at http://www.artisanandvine.com/store.

St John’s Hill Christmas Evening
Thursday 17 December from 4pm onward, St John’s Hill goes festive. A range of the businesses on the Hill will be involved and treats will include: Carol singers, Mulled wine & roasted chestnuts, mulled cider & hot Christmas pudding, port & stilton, mince pies, Reindeer racing, Face painting, Live music and Santa's grotto.
Some of the Traders will have stalls out the front of their venue, others will be snuggled inside for you to come visit. It promises to be as special as the Street Festival we held in September, with lots of community Christmas spirit!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Wine Unearthed One Day Wine Courses

· Wonderful joy – from January 2010, we’ll be hosting one day wine workshops at artisan & vine, run by our very good friends at Wine Unearthed.
· Wine Unearthed have been running wine workshops across the UK for over five years. When it came time for them to start running their acclaimed courses in London, they fell in love with the beautiful artisan & vine venue & away we were!
· Check out their range of 2010 London dates at: http://www.wineunearthed.co.uk/London.html

Friday, 6 November 2009

Christmas gift ideas from artisan & vine available for delivery all over the UK!

· Elegant and classy wooden gift boxes, wicker hampers and matched glass wine gift sets
· Gift certificates and wine tasting gift vouchers
· Delivery available all across the UK; or you can pick up items from the bar
· Delivery is FREE for orders above £70 and for all gift certificates; delivery is £8 for orders under £70 – less than the price of parking & public transport can often be & none of the hassle!
· Check out our online shop NOW at http://www.artisanandvine.com/store you’re certain to find perfect gifts for lovers or learners of wine!

· Booking space at artisan&vine is ALWAYS FREE! For Engagements, Birthdays, Farewells or Christmas, we have no booking fees at artisan&vine.
· For Christmas 2009, we’ve teamed up with our very good friends from across the road, the multi award winning Fish Club.
· The boys behind the Fish Club have a resume that extends well beyond the oceans & have recently launched The Catering Club – which will be working in partnership with artisan&vine to bring you the most exceptional food, wine & venue experience for your Christmas, Engagement, Birthday or other party!
· We’ve developed fixed price menu options of £10/person, £15/person and £20/person.
· Menus include delicacies like: Rare roast beef with Yorkshire pudding, watercress and horseradish; Slow roasted tomato risotto balls stuffed with buffalo mozzarella and pesto; Yellow Fin tuna sashimi with soy dressing and Home cured duck ham with celeriac remoulade.
· Full details online here -> http://www.artisanandvine.com/Christmas-party-venue

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Chef Quest

Are you a creative chef with professional experience and aspirations to realise your potential but unable to get the right venue or financing for your own restaurant?

Come talk with me.

I own artisan&vine, widely regarded as one of London’s Best Wine Bars, and wanting a hot food menu to match the quality of wine we serve.

I'm looking for an ambitious & creative chef with ideas that will maximise the potential of my small kitchen! It’s a kitchen ready for more action - you will need to work with 4 hot plates and 1 oven. That is all. We offer high end clientele & large existing customer base. You'll need to be able to cook for around 30 covers a night, initially on your own, as well significant party catering (essential to making this business work). I’d like to add a hot food menu of around 4 starters, 4 mains and a few desserts, some great sharing plates.

If you have what it takes, you will be on a high risk-reward arrangement; potentially some kind of partnership. Full control of kitchen management will be yours.

Interested in running your own kitchen? Interested in taking your first steps toward entrepreneurism? Interested in being a part of a creative, energetic team & making your name at an already well respected business? Then send your CV and introductory letter to Kathryn@artisanandvine.com. I’m looking forward to possibly working together & I’m open to discussing a wide range of business options.

Please Note: I will only look at CV’s from people who have experience of working in a commercial bar or restaurant kitchen. I will be following up on references and if you are invited to bounce ideas together – please be ready to present some preliminary menu ideas. You will be responsible for the kitchen’s Gross Profit, indeed, it’s what your personal income will depend upon, and you’ll also be responsible for ordering, supplier management and health & safety. Prior experience is essential.

For further information on artisan&vine, please check out our website, you’ll need to be a good personal fit for us to really succeed together! http://www.artisanandvine.com/

Friday, 23 October 2009

artisan & vine UK exclusives

This week: two new artisan & vine UK exclusives: the new wines from Chateau La Coste & biodynamic Beaujolais from Bret Brothers.

· A wonderful opportunity to enjoy a tutored wine tasting with renowned French wine maker, Matthieu Cosse as he introduces the new natural wines from the highly esteemed Chateau La Coste.
· Matthieu works across two vineyards: Chateau La Coste in Provence and Domaine Cosse Massioneuve in Cahors so we’re going to taste a range of very interesting wines.
· Tickets are £20/person to taste 5 incredibly delicious wines. We start at 8pm, finishing around 9:30pm.
· Places are limited! Book now to be a part of this very special experience -> http://bit.ly/12z8K6 .

· The exquisite Bret Brothers vineyards and winery in Burgundy are close to being the subject of legend. The World Atlas of Wine (6th ed by Hugh Johnson and Jancis Robinson) notes that the Bret Brothers have “established a dazzling reputation”.
· Now the Bret boys have extended South of their Macon home to the fresh soils of Beaujolais.
· I brought it over having tasted it with the Bret Brothers when I was in Burgundy in June. I became obsessed & had to share it. It is definitely the most powerful Beaujolais I’ve ever tasted.
· Buy it in the bar or have it delivered to your home, though there are extremely limited stocks – only 12 bottles here in the UK!
· Tasting notes here and shop -> http://bit.ly/2R6DlZ

Image: Matthieu Cosse shows me the impressive new winery equipment at Chateau La Coste, Provence.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Hocktoberfest 2009

· You may have noticed that for a long time, artisan&vine had no German wines on the wine list. As late as yesterday this was true.
· Apparently, somewhere between Blue Nun and Leibfraumilch, the English decided German wines were awful and so although Germany does produce a good number of biodynamic wines, they just weren’t making it over to our shores.
· Once again, I sacrificed myself & drank lots of wine in obscure places, trying to find some nice German biodynamics for us.
· I came, I drank, I bought. I didn’t fall over. I thought: we must create Hocktoberfest!!
· We’re starting small: 4 German Rieslings are now on the list, check them out here -> http://bit.ly/35alPs
· They’re spectacular, & they mark the launch of Hocktoberfest – artisan & vine’s new celebration of wines from our cold climate friends.
· Best do some practicing before you come to the bar to try these, say it now: “German wine is delicious, I love Hocktoberfest!”

Image: German wines are so (tragically) new to artisan & vine I don't even have a picture of a German wine I stock to share with you! This is a photo of (a stunning) Alsace Riesling!!

Friday, 9 October 2009

Time Out London Best Wine Bars

· Time Out have recently published their iconic Eating & Drinking Guide for 2010.
· We were stoked to be included in their “Best Wine Bars List” for Best Wine Bars for: Wine Tasting, Take Home Wine and Natural Wine.
· We were also delighted that Time Out’s review of 2009 stated that "the biggest new story this year has been the growth of the 'natural' wine bar" and that in 2008, "the capital sees the opening of its first wine bar to specialise in organic and biodynamically produced wines, Artisan & Vine"
· Excerpts from the classic annual here.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Camel Valley Vineyard Visit

· FINALLY, a week end or so ago I got to visit my chatty friend, wine maker Sam Lindo, in Camel Valley Vineyards, Cornwall.
· Camel Valley Vineyards have been winning all sorts of awards of late – including Best UK Wine Maker for Sam!
· The scenery is stunning, well worth a visit if you’re ever out holidaying in Cornwall.
· Best of all, the wines are great! I walked away with 5 of their cuvees, which we now stock at the bar & online shop – Bacchus Dry, Rose, Cornwall Brut, Sparkling Rose and SPARKLING RED!
· Check out more pics and story here.
· Ps – yes… I’m well aware I’ve broken the rules… this IS NOT within 2hour drive of Battersea… taste it to see why I made an exception!
Image: Sam shows me his award winning vineyards - note the steep slope - great for drainage!

Friday, 25 September 2009

Launch of our new online wine shop

· New artisan&vine online wine shop is now live!
· Our full range of wines is available to buy online, with detailed descriptions, producer profiles and style driven recommendations.
· Delivery to your home, office or friends is FREE for orders over £70 and £8 for orders of £70 and under.
· You can also read up and buy the wines you’d like for collection at the bar, for any order value.
· Really fantastic for gifts, hosting parties, or building your own enviable collection of local and natural wines.
· Click www.artisanandvine.com/store to start your shopping experience!

Friday, 11 September 2009

Provence and Southern Rhone trip

· Last week we went out to Provence and the Southern Rhone to catch up with some of my favourite wine makers and sample some of their latest release vintages.
· In Southern Rhone we visited Chateauneuf du Pape and Cote du Rhone – both home to some sumptuous and rich red wines.
· In Provence we tasted some surprisingly fresh white wines that contrasted some broody, deep red wines. In general, these were blended rather than single grape variety wines.
· Once again I came back with a shopping list that will make my accountant do an accountant’s version of scream (a little too subdued to really be called a scream but you get the idea).
See photos and short notes from the trip by clicking here.

Image: no matter what I do, I can't get this picture of Henri Milan showing me his ultra-healthy vineyards in Provence to sit straight. I think it's somehow reflective of the fabulous alternative views Henri has of the world...

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Wine tasting at artisan&vine

We have about 100 wines on the list at artisan&vine. Some of the wines are very hard to find elsewhere - orange wines, zero added sulphite wines, even English wines can be hard to find in London.
Thus far I've taken a very informal approach to sharing our wines with the world. If you've been to one of our wine tastings in the past, you'll know it can be a rather fluid affair. (I hope you appreciate that I HAD to slip that in).
Well - these days we're getting a little more thematic about things. We're still doing weekly Wednesday wine tastings, but now we're hosting specific themes, with a bit more structure & advice around what we're serving.
The schedule of upcoming themes is listed here -> http://artisanandvine.com/Wine-tasting
Please do come by for a visit to try some of our more unusual wines, I reckon you won't be disappointed.

Image: mmm... Corsican rose... perfect in every way! Exactly the sort of thing it's worth getting into on a tasting.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

New Real Ale and Kentish Cider

Due to popular demand... we’ve tasted around and selected some artisan finds we hope you’ll love as much as us!
REAL ALE: Duncan Sambrook’s full, fruity and (at least when I pour it) frothy Wandle Ale
KENTISH CIDER: from our long time friends at Biddenden Vineyards - & Cider Works! Straight from the cask at a stonking 8.4% abv!

Monday, 17 August 2009

Wild wine in Chobham Common

I like the idea of "wild" whatever it's format. There's an inference of "place" within the word: if something occurs "wild" then it is likely to be a natural product of a given "place". And we already know I'm obsessed with place.

Sunday was my day off and Andrew (who's day job is working for Natural England (http://www.naturalengland.gov.uk/) and I were both keen to go somewhere Wild, though it had to be somewhere close.

The wonderful conclusion is a stunning place called Chobham Common, just off the M3 it took us around 30minutes to drive there. It's an area of outstanding beauty, especially at this time of year when the heather is in full flower.

We set up picnic and watched the clouds roll over the heaths. Stunning.

What to drink? The warm day called for a refreshing drink so we opted for the Coteaux du Languedoc 2008 from my beloved Mas Nicot. The wine has fresh lime notes and is starting to develop that brilliant creamy finish that was so characteristic of the 2007 vintage. We sell Coteaux du Languedoc for £4.40/glass, or, you can buy it to take home for £14.50/bottle (and an additional 10% off when you buy 6 or more).

Image: fresh Coteaux du Languedoc from Mas Nicot in the gorgeous wild flowers of Chobham Common.

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Ale / Lager, Pilsner / Beer, Rioja / Riocka

Last year I underwent an awakening: people like draught beer.
This year, I discovered that while some people like draught lager, others prefer draught ale.
I only served draught lager.
So yesterday I went to visit Duncan Sambrook, of Sambrooks Brewery around the corner from me here in Battersea.
My questions made him pull the face I have to pull when people ask for an Australian Rioja (rioja is their favourite grape). He was confused at my questions, but eager to help.
What did I learn? For starters... here are the answers to some important beer basics:
1. Beer = an alcoholic drink made by the brewing & fermenting of starches
2. Lager = fermenting at cold temps, with "fizz" added afterward
3. Pilsner = a type of pale lager, with predominant hop characteristics
4. Ale = fermented at hot temps, with "fizz" developed during secondary fermentatin (yes, like champagne!)
For seconders, I learnt we really need to be stocking some of this full, flavoursome ale stuff...
At artisan&vine we currently have pilsner & lager on tap... we're now trialling Duncan's excellent local ale by the bottle.
Come by & cast a vote... we're keen for your thoughts!
Image: Duncan's fantastic Wandle Ale... I reckon we're onto a winner...

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

We've gone crackers... (past tense?)

A friend of mine has a friend, Miriam. Miriam is a foodie. She went crackers long before we did.

Today Miriam brought in a range of her handmade crackers - chilli cheese, herb & cheese, rosemary & garlic. We tasted; they're perfect for wine.

We'll be stocking them from Friday on... come by for a taste of additive free, home made perfection!

PS - yes, Miriam was subject to the standard artisan&vine new supplier interview:

1. show us your product, how does it taste?

2. what's your story? (subtext: where's your passion)

3. what's the story of the product? (tastes like inspiration)

4. what does it cost? will it represent great value for our savvy customers?

Image: homemade crackers!

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Wine shop or not shop

I've been thinking a lot lately about the artisan&vine wine shop.
I've been thinking: people seem to really love our wines, but they rarely buy them to take home. Customers enthuse about what they taste at artisan&vine in a way people don't usually enthuse at bars and restaurants. These wines seem to create an interactive, participatory experience.
So, why then, do we sell such a small amount of wine to take home?
The prices are very competitive, of that I'm certain.
Maybe tasting wine at artisan&vine is a participatory experience that includes the feel of our little bar on St John's Hill.
Most likely, I've done a very bad job telling people that there is the ability to take wines home. It's easy to get caught up talking only about the wines and the exciting places they've evolved from.
Should we have a sign? An accompanying online shop? Do we give up on retail and accept we'll always be primarily a bar?
Come visit us soon... I'm sure we'll have dreamt up something in the very near future.
Share your opinion by voting in the poll on this site (until 30 Aug 09).

Image: sometimes I wonder if our pretty little Georgian building looks more like a home than a bar or shop!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Bordeaux, Cahors and Gaillac

This July we did a rather ambitious road trip from Toulouse, up to Bordeaux, back down south to Cahors and then across to Gaillac. We were in pursuit of wine: exciting new wine.
· Bordeaux posed the largest challenge for me. Steeped in tradition, amongst all of my contacts we could think of only 3 producers using biodynamic methods. In a fascinating twist, one of them – Pascal Amoreau of Chateau Le Puy - is an extreme natural wine maker, and doesn’t use any added sulphites in his wines. The result is outstanding: full fruit flavours, incredible depth, a live personality. I hope to be stocking the wines come Autumn!
· We went to Cahors to visit the charismatic Catherine Maisonneuve of Domaine Cosse Maisonneuve. Cahors has stunning countryside: wild vegetation interspersed by picturesque towns and their churches. Like much of Cahors, the speciality here is Malbec and we were treated to an amazing tasting across vintages and parcels. We stock Catherine’s full, earthy Le Combal 2005 at artisan&vine – definitely worth drinking if you enjoy your reds heavy.
· Lastly, we visited Virginie Maignien and Patrice Lescarret of Domaine Causse Marines in Gaillac. This place is lively, floral, spicy and the wines are exactly the same. Virginie and Patrice are dedicated to using lesser known grape varieties that are indigenous to Gaillac – Ondenc, Braucol, Duras – it’s a wonderful taste exploration that necessitates(!) me carrying four of their fabulous wines at artisan&vine.
· Photos and notes from the full journey and tastings
here -> http://artisanandvine.com/index.php?mact=Album,m3,default,1&m3albumid=14&m3returnid=56&page=56

Image: me with Dominic from Chateau le Queyroux, Bordeaux

Friday, 26 June 2009

London's Best Wine Bar, Burgundy & 1 Year B'day Bash

In this update – amazing reviews, a one year birthday party, a new wine list and my latest love… Burgundy Burgundy

Regulars and enthusiasts have thought it for some time… we’re stoked someone other than my Mum put it into writing. This last week wine writer Andrew Barrow of Spittoon.biz and Guardian Word of Mouth wrote a&v up as ‘London’s Best Wine Bar’, full review here ->
We were delighted to receive a flattering write up from wine blogger Robert McIntosh of Wine Conversation also. Robert concludes that passion and commitment, more than the nuances of “natural” are key in making a great wine experience ->

Burgundy... I cannot love thee more. It’s as true as everyone says: this is the place where terroir becomes a fact. Acres upon acres of (almost) only Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with nothing to distinguish what pours from a bottle except the terroir and winemaker themselves... which turn out to be everything!
As a result of the trip, I have quite a few new finds in the bar, new favourites from Domaine D’Arlot, Bret Brothers and Les Héritiers du Comte Lafon.
Photo diary of the trip is here ->

OUR NEW WINE LIST – which includes exciting new finds from Chile, Austria, Burgundy & rest of France is here ->

Somehow a year has passed and as a dedicated member of the a&v mailing list... we’d like to invite you to our 1 year birthday party on Friday, 24 July. The party will start at 6pm and go through to close at 2am. The party is for regulars and enthusiasts – to thank you for your support over the last year. Look forward to seeing you then!
Image: Olivier of Domaine D'Arlot, Burgundy, walks me through the beautiful estate gardens