Friday, 7 March 2014

Far Ouest at a London Wine Bar (40 Maltby Street)

40 Maltby Street is a warehouse under a deep railway arch in Bermondsey and home to Gergovie Wines. Although closer to the City of London than the West End the area feels like neither. The Maltby Street half of this "cave" is a glass fronted wine bar that offers what seems their entire wine range along with a simple menu of quality food.

The wines come from lesser known areas of France (this is a Bordeaux and Burgundy free zone) along with growers from Italy, Spain and two from Slovenia. They coin them artisan wines. Only a few years ago it would probably have been Natural wines, but wisely that term seems to be being retired north of the Manche.

We were tipped off at the Roquebrun Festival of vins natures back in May by Mylène Bru, maker of Far Ouest and one of seven artisan Languedoc growers Gergovie Wines import. We enjoyed her wine at the time, and again here with lunch.

This time 2011 Far Ouest reminded me of Domaine Ribiera's Causse Toujours, perhaps not surprising given they both have good dollops of Grenache and the vineyards pretty much face each other across the Hérault valley. Both have heaps of Mediterranean flavour without being heavy.

The kitchen may be tiny but the dishes ooze care and confidence.

Shoulder of lamb with turnip cake, purple sprouting broccoli spiked with anchovy and mint is an example. As fresh tasting as it looks.

Monmouth Coffee (who import artisan grown beans) have their roasting and tasting premises next door. Curiously 40 Maltby Street doesn't serve coffee - probably to allow the small team to focus on the wine.

Diners note this is informal eating from a short menu. Order from the bar and all seating is on stools with mostly shared tables and counters.

Must return and try the Slovenian wines.

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