jamie goode's wine blog: Get thee down to Whole Foods Market: very good wine list and excellent wine bar

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Get thee down to Whole Foods Market: very good wine list and excellent wine bar

I had lunch today at the wine bar in the Whole Foods Market store on High Street Kensington, with their wine buyer Pete Hogarth and PR person Alex Tunney, who'd invited me to come and see what they are up to.

The wine range at Whole Foods is simply brilliant. It's a mix of conventional and natural wines, and is full of interest. In particular, the Italian and regional French ranges are superb, with strength in depth and an array of natural wines that is simply unparalleled in London.

The wines aren't overpriced, although they are not the cheapest, either (some seemed a bit on the expensive side, such as JM Stephan’s Côte Rôtie at £75, but is probably a function of what the wines were purchased for).

Browsing the shelves I found perhaps two dozen wines that I'd have bought on the spot if I'd been shopping. This is unusually good.

The best bit is that the wine bar allows customers to take a wine off the shelf, pay for it at the till, and then drink it at the bar with no extra corkage at all. That is seriously cool. The food options at the bar aren't too extensive, but what there is is very good. We had one each of the tartines (these are open sandwiches with a range of charcuterie and cheese toppings), raclette, a large plate of Italian charcuterie and some generous-sized slabs of Montgomerie Cheddar and cave-aged Gruyere.

These were washed down with three very interesting wines.

Angiolino Maule I Masieri 2008 Garganega del Veneto IGT
12% alcohol. 60% Garganega, 40% Trebbiano, made with some skin contact and with low sulfur dioxide (50 mg/litre). Yellow colour. Lovely bright, minerally, appley fruit here with some gently spicy notes. Quite complex with real personality. After a while in the glass it begins to pick up more complexity, with grapefruit pith and mandarin notes, as well as subtle matchstick complexity. A lovely natural wine. 91/100 (£11.99 Whole Foods Market)

Roagna Langhe Rosso 2001 Piedmont, Italy
13% alcohol. Long skin maceration, aged for years in large Slavonian oak casks, with just a touch of sulfur dioxide at bottling. This wine comes from Barbaresco: it's Roagna's younger vines and those at the bottom of the slope. But it's better than most Barolos or Barbarescos. Wonderfully savoury and elegant with subtly earthy cherry fruit, together with some spicy notes. There's a nice texture: while this is fairly tannic, there's a smoothness and elegance to the palate, with refined, complex spicy, earthy notes under the fruit. Very Burgundian style of Nebbiolo, and drinking beautifully now. 93/100 (£24.99 Whole Foods Market)

Veramar Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2007 Virginia, USA
13.4% alcohol. This is my first Virginian wine, and I'm just so impressed. It's got lovely purity of fruit, and real old world elegance. Clean red berry and cherry fruit nose with some sweetness and no greenness, and just a subtle chalky minerality hinting at the varietal origin. The palate shows lovely focused midweight berry fruits with great purity and balance. It reminds me a little of a Central Otago Pinot Noir, with its lovely stylish, focused fruit. Really delicious and quite serious. 90/100 (£16.99 Whole Foods Market)

Disclosure: I didn't pay for my lunch.

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At 11:08 PM, Anonymous Ian S said...

Ta for the disclosure bit.

n.b. if it feels a bit 'clunky' added to the end of the article - here's a thought... When disclosure needs to be made for that post, would it be easier to have a hotlink at the end of the article marked simply 'Disclosure' that takes you to a full description (for those that see it as important)?

Maybe one to think about & revisit if you find the disclosure needs more words than this and are worried about it overly detracting from the article.

Talking of the article, I've always liked the shop+cafe style arrangement, where a wine geek can browse the shelves for a great match to the food.



At 3:07 AM, Blogger Couves said...

Yes, the non-corkage is seriously cool, but I’m guessing they will recoup any losses when you return to shopping. If the grandmotherly advice “don’t go shopping when you’re hungry” has any merit, it goes doubly for shopping while tanked. ;)

At 11:12 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

geez, enough of the disclosure debate... the article starts with the words

"I had lunch ... with their wine buyer Pete Hogarth and PR person Alex Tunney, who'd invited me to come and see what they are up to"

sounds good anyway - not somewhere id immediatly think of to either buy wine or go for lunch!

At 12:21 PM, Anonymous Martin said...

There really are loads of interesting wines - I wish they'd publish their list online, though!

Also, with quite a few low/ no-sulphur wines, I have been a little concerned about storage in the past, though I've only had one (I think) faulty wine, a Regard du Loir from Robinot, which just wasn't quite right.

At 2:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wholefoods in Kensington also has a weekly food & wine tour every Thursday night, they never publish the menu in advance as the tour changes every week- but its great value. Some one said there is also a wine club. www.wholefoodsmarket.co.uk

At 4:07 PM, Blogger Vinogirl said...

The Whole Foods store in Napa also has a great selection of wines and knowledgeable staff...wines from all around the world, not just Napa, although of course Napa is well represented. We prefer to call it 'Whole Paycheck' in these parts though.
It's good to know that the WF stores adapt well to the English market. I am waiting with bated breath for Tesco to open in Napa, they chose a site...just before the economy tanked!

At 8:09 PM, Blogger victoria said...

Jeez, Jamie I've been deliberately not telling anyone about this, it's my favourite post-work drinking spot (and not only because getting there merely involves going downstairs). It feels very kitsch - bright neon and jingly shop music, like going back to 1983 - but such a relief to be able to buy brilliant wine for the same cost as a bottle of piss in the pubs round the corner.

At 8:34 PM, Blogger Anthony said...

That place looks awesome! I only wish we had a place like that around here, all we have are regular bars. I'll just have to stick to ordering St. James Winery Friendship School White wine till I move to a place like VA.

At 2:05 AM, Anonymous David Moed said...

Have you tried Terroirs 5 William IV Street,Strand,London,- Its Great.I was lucky enough to go witha wine buyer so it wasa real education...

At 8:10 PM, Blogger Simon said...

Jamie - I don't suppose you can name any of the other wines you'd have purchased? I go past WF every day, and it'd be good to have some guidance on something to try...

At 8:33 PM, Blogger Virginia Wine Adventurer said...


As the importer of Veramar Vineyard wines and specialist in wines of Virginia, I was delighted to see that you enjoyed your first Virginia wine at Whole Foods Market with Peter Hogarth at their seriously cool wine department and wine bar! :-)


Chris Parker, New Horizon Wines

At 4:26 AM, OpenID winelovr said...


Great review and awesome pictures. Cheers! -- Justin B.


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