Whether the glass is half empty or half full, there’s always room for more, says artisan’s restaurant manager, Robin Price.
Let’s talk wine. What’s the list like at artisan?
We can accommodate the connoisseur as well as the everyday wine drinker and our wine list isn’t unnecessarily large or overbearing. Every bottle is listed on there for a reason. The wine menu varies with seasonal changes. At present, you would expect to find a few clean, fresh and lively palate whites such as our Santa Florentina Chardonnay from the Famatina Valley in Argentina – which pairs wonderfully with our foraged mushrooms. You’ll also find opulently spiced, rich reds such as the Il Barroccio Rosso from Sicily, which displays luscious notes of plums and dark berries. It’s a great match for our glazed duck breast served with cherries.
How do you pull the wine list together?
We have a fantastic relationship with our wine supplier, Corney & Barrow. For the past four years, they have really put the leg work in to source wonderful producers of wine. In terms of creating a new list, we need to look first and foremost at the variety of ingredients we will be working with for that season and put together a brief of wine characteristics we are looking for. Then for the hard work … tasting!
Are there are any highlights on the wine list?
My favourite is our Albarino. This wine comes from the tip of North West Spain and has the most unique spiced peach flavour. This wine is richly textured and, as I describe it on the menu, a refreshing alternative to the usual suspects.
You run Bring Your Own Bottle and Half Priced Wine nights – can you tell us more about these?
Our Bring Your Own Bottle offer is every Wednesday and it’s proved very popular, especially as we don’t charge a corkage fee. It’s great fun to see what guests bring along and a nice exercise in observing if there are any drinking trends of wine that we are unaware of.
There are no rules as to what wine bottles you bring. We are happy to play host to those who choose to pick up a bottle from the shops on the way to the restaurant or those who have sat on a particular bottle for a number of years and have chosen our setting to enjoy it in.
The Thursday offer of half priced bottles was set up as a way of encouraging guests to step out of their comfort zone of their usual go-to wines and try something they wouldn’t normally, but with the incentive that they would not be paying full price.
Fortunately, I am confident that we do not have any bad wines available, however we do have those which may not please every guest’s palate. Every Thursday, diners can choose from 22 bottles from our list easily marked and staff are on hand to answer any questions regarding the bottles of interest.
You offer a wine pairing with the tasting menu, how do you create this every month?
Myself and Andrew Wilkinson, our head chef, both enjoy food and wine – so love this process. The first step is for Andrew to tailor a tasting menu. This is quite a feat in itself as developing eight dishes to be served one after another – that not only balance and complement each other but flow correctly – can be tricky.
Next is to identify the wines that will enhance those plates of food. Sometimes the trial and error can take a little while, other times the wine we think will work best just does and beautifully captures our fresh ingredients.
TOP 5 AUTUMN WINES
GUY DE CHASSEY GRAND CRU BRUT, CHAMPAGNE, FRANCE
Zesty apple and citrus fruit, balanced by richer, toasted brioche flavours.
VIOGNIER, TERRE DE LUMIERE, CELLIERS JEAN D’ALIBERT IGP, PAYS D’OC, FRANCE 2015
Orange blossom notes and ripe, orchard fruit flavours.
PINOTAGE, RHEBOKSKLOOF, PAARL, SOUTH AFRICA, 2015
Dark ripe fruit, subtle smoke and ash.
CÔTES DU RH Ô NE, VIGNOBLES GONNET, RH Ô NE, FRANCE, 2015
Violet, dried herb and spicy dark fruit.
CHIANTI, CLASSICO, TERRE DI PRENZANO, VIGAMAGGIO, TUSCANY, ITALY, 2015
With dried herbs, spice and moreish sour cherry flavours, this wine is concentrated, yet restrained.