Shopping in London can be a stressful exercise. JAMIE GOODE maps out a clear path and points wine lovers in the right direction.
London: History, culture and rain. Exclusive hotels and superb wine shops. Whatever your reason for coming, it’s worth taking the time and effort to visit the capital’s best wine shops. Most listed here are centrally located and are within walking distance of the tube. Both www.streetmap.co.uk and www.thetube.com are useful sites.
In a hurry? Take the tube to Piccadilly Circus and visit Berry Bros & Rudd and Fortnum & Mason, or get to Knightsbridge and take in La Vigneronne, Lea & Sandeman and La Réserve.
More time to spare? Sample the above, then take the District and Circle Line to Notting Hill Gate (Corney & Barrow), from where you can pop on the Central Line to Bond Street (Selfridges) and continue to Chancery Lane (Oddbins Fine Wine).
105 Old Brompton Road, London SW7 3LE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7589 6113
Open: Mon–Fri 10am–8pm, Sat 10am–6pm
Nearest tube: South Kensington
La Vigneronne is an exciting destination for any wine lover. As well as the UK’s best southern French selection – including gems sourced directly by the owners – it is strong on other French regions. Its Spanish and Portuguese selections aren’t bad, either.
Strengths: Languedoc, Alsace, Rhône.
Must buys: Domaine Mouton Syrah, Vin de Pays des Collines Rhodaniennes 2000 (£6.95).
Ch Grande Cassagne Rameaux, Costières de Nîmes 2000 (£6.95)
Dom Gros’ Noré, Bandol 1999 (£14.95) n L’Esprit de Fonte Caude, Montpeyroux, Coteaux du Languedoc 1998 (£20)
Niepoort Redoma, Douro 1999 (£24.99).
Berry Bros & Rudd
3 St James’s Street, London SW1A 1EG
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7396 9669
Open: Mon–Fri 10am–6pm, Sat 10am–4pm
Tube: Piccadilly Circus or Green Park
Berry Bros’ historic St James’s Street shop is a must. Until recently there were no bottles on display; you simply sat down and spoke to one of the staff. Now there’s a small selection of bottles from the 2,500-strong range available for browsing. The best way to buy, though, is via the website. That way, you can have wines delivered, or specify collection from the shop. The range is comprehensive.
Strengths: The classic Europeans.
Must buys: Ch de Beaucastel, Châteauneuf du Pape 1998 (£55)
Dr Loosen, Erdener Pralat Riesling Auslese Goldkap, Mosel Saar Ruwer 1996 (£37)
Hiedler Grüner Veltliner, Spiegel, Austria 2001 (£7.95)
Ch Gruaud-Larose, St Julien 1978 (£61)
Ch Talbot, St Julien 1996 (£35).
Corney & Barrow
194 Kensington Park Road, London W11 2ES
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7221 5122
Open: Mon–Sat 10.30am–9pm
Tube: Notting Hill Gate or Westbourne Grove
Tucked away in a leafy residential area, Corney & Barrow’s small shop is a gem. With the parent company boasting an impressive list of UK agencies for the likes of Tardieu Laurent, Pétrus, Domaine Leflaive, Pingus and Alvaro Palacios, there’s no shortage of quality. Downstairs houses a fair selection of rare bottles from C&B’s broking arm. Prices are surprisingly fair.
Strengths: Bordeaux (especially Right Bank), Burgundy and Spain.
Must buys: Ch La Pointe, Pomerol 1998 (£28.44)
Ch le Bon Pasteur, Pomerol 1996 (£27.73)
Dom Leflaive, Puligny Montrachet 1999 (£32.61)
Descendientes de J Palacios Bierzo, Spain 1999(£16.45). n Chocapalha, Estremadura, Portugal 2000 (£12.22).
Fortnum & Mason
181 Picadilly, London W1A 1ER
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7734 8040
Open: Mon–Sat 10–6.30pm; Sun 11–5pm
Tube: Piccadilly Circus or Green Park
With its genteel atmosphere, buying wine at Fortnum & Mason is a civilised affair. The department is spacious, well laid out and the broad range of its 1,200 wines is superb. My only gripe is the lack of shelf information, meaning you have to pick up bottles to see the prices, which are fairer than you might expect for a high-end department store.
Strengths: Burgundy, Germany and fortified wines.
Must buys: JJ Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling Spätlese, Mosel Saar Ruwer 1999 (£21)
Ch Léoville Barton, St-Julien 1996 (£55)
René Dauvissat Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos 2000 (£36)
Dom de la Romanée Conti Romanée-St-Vivant Grand Cru 1998 (£185).
Lea & Sandeman
170 Fulham Road, London SW10 9PR
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7244 0522
Open: Mon–Sat 10am–8pm
Tube: South Kensington
Lea & Sandeman boasts a smart range, sane prices and good service. The Burgundy and Italian ranges are impressive, but coverage elsewhere is decent too. There are three other branches, including one in Kensington (211 Kensington Church St, W8 7LX. Tel: +44 (0) 20 7221 1982. Tube: Notting Hill).
Strengths: Italy and Burgundy.
Must buys: Bricco Maiolica Barbera d’Alba Vigna Vigia 1998 (£10.50)
95 Podere Luigi Einaudi Dolcetto di Dogliani i Filari 1999 (£13.50)
Castello del Terriccio Tassinaia 1999 (£18.95)
Dom de l’Hortus Pic St-Loup Grande Cuvée 1998 (£14.95).
400 Oxford Street, London W1A 1AB
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7318 3730
Open: Mon–Sat 10am–8pm, Sun 12pm–6pm
Nearest tube: Bond Street or Oxford Circus
Having browsed in Selfridges’ wonderful food hall, spend some time in the wine department, which is awkwardly located in a corner of the main store. There’s plenty to catch the eye here, with a list that is strong: lots of mouthwatering names to get any semi-serious wine nut salivating. Prices are higher than normal, but this is forgivable in light of the breadth and quality of the range.
Strengths: Alsace, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhône, Loire, Spain, South Africa.
Must buys: Araujo Estate Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa 1998 (£99)
Andrew Will Pepper Bridge Sangiovese 1999 (£19.50)
Seresin Chardonnay, Marlborough 2001 (£10.99)
Jermann Vinnae, Venezia Giulia 1999 (£13.75)
Alain Graillot, Crozes Hermitage 2000 (£14.50)
Jean Louis Chave, Hermitage 1999 (£125).
Oddbins fine wine store
41a Farringdon Street, London EC4A 4AN
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7236 7721
Open: Mon–Fri 9am–7pm; Sat 10am–5pm
Tube: Chancery Lane, Farringdon
The concept behind Oddbins Fine Wine Stores is to provide an outlet for parcels of interesting wines that are too small to go round the regular branches. Of the three London outlets, this one is central and has an atmospheric cellar-like setting under the railway arches. Worth visiting for a regularly changing and eclectic mix at good prices.
Strengths: Australia, USA.
Must buys: Peter Lehmann Stonewell Shiraz, Barossa 1995 (£19.99)
Jean-Luc Joillot Pommard 1er Cru Les Petits Epenots 1999 (£31.99)
Edmunds St John Les Côtes Sauvage, Napa 1996 (£12.99)
Kent Rasmussen, Chardonnay, Napa 1997 (£16.99).
56 Walton Street, London SW3 1RB
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7589 2020
Open: 9.30am–8pm Mon–Fri, 9.30am–6pm Sat
Tube: South Kensington or Knightsbridge
Set in a smart residential area, La Reserve has a glittering range, with the Old World elite rubbing shoulders with the best of the new. Prices are the main drawback – pretty frightening for some of the top bottles. The antediluvian website is also a bit offputting.
Strengths: Burgundy, Bordeaux.
Must buys: Dom Courbis Cornas, Champelrose 2000 (£20.95)
Sylvain Cathiard, Vosne Romanée 1er Cru Les Malconsorts 1999 (£38.95)
Trimbach, Riesling, Cuvée Frédéric Emile 1997 (£24.95)
Brokenwood, Graveyard, Shiraz, Hunter Valley 2000 (£41.95)
Also worth a visit…
Handford Holland Park
12 Portland Road, Holland Park, London W11 4LE
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7221 9614 (Small and friendly)
Knightsbridge, London SW1X 7RJ
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7235 5000 (Plenty of high-end wines)
87–135 Brompton Road, London SW1X 7XL
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7730 1234 (Strong in the classics)
Written by JAMIE GOODE