I visit terroirs wine bar
Went last night to Terroirs, a new wine bar in London focusing on 'natural' wines, located just a few yards from Charing Cross station.
There's already a thriving natural wine bar scene in Paris, and it's about time it came to London, because these wines are authentic, interesting and affordable. Terroirs manages to do the difficult job of combining a nice ambience, good food and a stunning, fairly priced wine list – and I thoroughly recommend it.
What exactly are 'natural' wines? They're wines that honestly express their sense of place ('terroir'), which usually means that they are made by committed wine growers who add as little as possible to their wines and allow their vineyards (usually managed without reliance on synthetic chemicals) to express themselves to the full. Typically, this will mean fermentation without the addition of cultured yeasts, no new oak, no added acidity or tannin, and no added sulfur dioxide until bottling, if at all.
I met with Doug Wregg of Les Caves de Pyrene who are partners in Terroirs and who supply around 90% of the wines. We ate at the bar, and enjoyed a number of wines with our food. The food was fantastic. The chacuterie plate had two excellent terrines, plus an awesome, melt-in-the-mouth jambon iberico, as well as a smooth, delicate salami.
We then shared potted shrimp on toast, bone marrow and truffle on toast, grilled eel, and belly pork with beans. All were superb.
What about the wines? I let Doug choose, and he chose well.
Domaine des Foulards Rouge Cuvee Octobre  Vin de Table
A young wine from the Roussillon, this is amazingly fresh and bright, with sweet, pure, sappy cherry and berry fruit. Vibrant and joyful this is superbly drinkable with lovely purity and freshness. 89/100 (£6 glass; £23.50 bottle)
Philippe Valette Macon-Chaintre 2005 Burgundy, France
Lovely concentration and intensity here, with beautiful balance between the rich bold fruit and smoky, spicy minerality/ A tiny hint of oxidation adds richness. Complex rich, toasty and intense with lovely boldness and intensity. 92/100 (£8.50 glass/£33.75 bottle)
Massia Vecchia Bianco 2006 Maremma, Toscano, Italy
65% Vermentino, with some skin maceration. Orange coloured, this has lovely aromatics: fresh, lifted floral notes with lemons, herby notes and a hint of sweetness. The palate has some lovely spiciness with herb and mineral notes. Quite beautiful, and almost like a red wine in terms of its structure. 94/100 (£48 bottle)
Carso Zidarich ‘Teran’ 2005 Friuli, Italy
This is a varietal Teran/Terrano (a special sort of Refosco). It’s powerful, minerally and super-fresh with notes of gravel and citrus. Lovely fruit purity, with black cherry, plum and raspberry. Vivid, intense and delicious. A sappy, grippy character keeps it fresh. 91/100 (£38.50 bottle)
Clos Lapeyre Jurançon ‘Magendia’ 2005
100% Petit Manseng, late harvested. Savoury, herby and pithy with intense citrussy fruit and lovely complexity. Richly textured and quite pure, with nice acidity. 92/100 (£6.50 glass)
We then finished off with some weird stuff.
Massa Vecchia ‘Aliatico’ is a red Muscat variant, and its wild, sweet and volatile with musky, herby, grapey fruit and a blast of vinegar. Sounds weird but it’s lovely. And three from Maison Laurent Cazottes:
First, an Aperitif aux Noix Verts. This is weird: it’s spicy, earthy and nutty with notes of cinnamon and curry spice, as well as sweetness on the palate. It’s actually walnuts seeped in wine. Second, an eaux de vie made of Poire William, which is pure and delicious. Third, an eaux de vie made from greengages (Reine Claude Doree), which is weird and delicious.
Summary? Terroirs is a great addition to the London gastronomic scene, and is a must visit for open-minded wine lovers.