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Bristol – a wine lover’s guide

If you thought Bristol was only about cider and dreadlocks, think again. With its beguiling mix of industry, arts and culture, this thriving city is home to one of the most exciting and dynamic food scenes in the country. And it has the wine to match.

With Bristol’s importance as a port dating back to the Middle Ages, good wine has always been part of the culture of this outward-looking city. Although much of the place is looking rather scrubbed up these days, the old Bristol of radical politics, explorers, counterculture, and rusting docks, lurks just beneath, and the wine scene is all the better for it.

Yes, there are smart bars – you can hardly move for them in well-heeled Clifton. But the more boho side of the city, with its emphasis on non-conformity, is still to be experienced in neighbourhoods such as Montpelier and Stokes Croft. It is this radical tradition that is imprinted upon the wine scene: Whatever your passion, be it a predilection towards the organic, biodynamic, natural, or just the interesting and unusual, Bristol’s wine bars will have the wine for you.

Kask Wine

Kask, Bristol wine bars

Kask

What we like about it

This vibrant neighbourhood bar epitomises the new Bristol. Located in up-and-coming Bedminster, on the south side of the city, Kask attracts masses of artists and young professionals. Everything about Kask is beautiful and well thought out, from its green façade to its garden and wine taps.

Wine list

It doesn’t get much more Bristol than Kask: specialising in organic, sustainable and minimal intervention win and served by deeply knowledgeable staff who care, this bar serves consistently interesting wines. They’re all available to take home by the bottle, too, and fairly priced.

What to order

Jordi Llorens lively Garnatxa based red from Conca de Barbera in Spain has been aged for six months in amphora to produce a soft and focused wine. The inclusion of white wine grape Parellada adds acidity and elegance. A steal at £24 a bottle.

Address: 51 North St, Bedminster, Bristol BS3 1EN
Opening hours: Wednesday – Friday 4pm-11pm; Saturday & Sunday 2pm- 11pm
kaskwine.co.uk

Lido

Lido

Lido

What we like about it

This unpretentious and modern bar and restaurant is elevated by its stunning surrounds – a Victorian lido. As well as the best setting of any bar in Bristol, this bar and restaurant has some of the best food and most interesting wine. Listeni to the weirdly evocative sounds of swimming as you kick back with a glass of wine in front of a wood fired oven. And don’t worry there are glass walls to stop any unwelcome splashes breaking through.

Wine list

Although Lido invites watery puns, its wallet friendly wine list will hardly feel like splashing out. With the bulk of the selection coming at under £40 per bottle, and with plenty to be had for half the price, a poolside bottle could easily become an everyday treat. The wines are largely from small artisanal producers in Spain, Italy and Lebanon.

What to order

The unique setting calls for an unusual wine, so why not dive in to a bottle of the Papagiannakos Assyrtiko. This stunning white from Attika in Greece is full of fresh floral aromas of citrus, white blossom, wild orange and lime harnessed to a racy saline acidity. A great choice with Mediterranean influenced menu on offer at the Lido (try jamon with chargrilled peach) and cheap at £42 a bottle.

Address: Oakfield Pl, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2BJ
Opening hours: 7am-10pm
lidobristol.com

Avery’s

Avery's, Bristol wine bars

What we like about it

Established in 1793, Averys is a Bristol institution that has long held a reputation for innovation. Generations of the family shaped the UK wine trade, from being the first to import Chateau Petrus in 1948, to introducing the wines of Australia, New Zealand and fine wines of California to the UK. Today, the venerable wine merchant, accesed via some pleasingly olde world steps off of College Green has an extensive list and the vaulted brick line cellar makes every visit feel like an occasion. Best of all, 5th Generation Avery, Mimi is still the face of the business.

Wine list

Avery’s parent company is Direct Wines Ltd, which also owns The Sunday Times Wine Club and Laithwaites. But each of them stocks a different list of wines. While the bottle list focuses quite heavily, and understandably, on France, there is a a diverse range here that – true to the traditions of the company includes eclectic offerings from every corner of the world.

What to order

Opt for a bottle of Vallée des Aigles from Boris Kovac. Originating in deepest Roussillon, this wine (£19.99) is made from a blend of grapes from 60-100 year old Carignan vines picked bunch by bunch and fermented in a tiny cellar, before being aged in vat and barrel for a year. This result is a silky and herbaceous red, redolent of the hills of the south of France.

  • Address: 9 Culver St, Bristol BS1 5LD
  • Opening hours: 10am-6pm. Closed Sundays
  • www.averys.com

Marmo

Marmo, Bristol wine bars

Marmo

What we like about it

Marmo, run by Cosmo and Lily Sterck, is a restaurant and wine bar in the heart of the city, and occupies the same space as the much-missed Bar Buvette. Fortunately Marmo is a fine replacement. Cosmo earned his spurs at St John’s in London, something that is reflected in Marm’s concise menu and interest in seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Opened just two years ago, this fine wine-focussed restaurant is already attracting attention not just in Bristol but nationally.

Wine list

In typical Bristol fashion, there is a focus on natural wine, or to quote the restaurant ‘European producers who farm their vineyards organically or biodynamically, and use minimal or no chemical intervention in the winery’. There’s a good selection available by the glass.

What to order

Put some fizz in your evening with a bottle of txakoli rosado from Bodegas Ameztoi. This reasonably priced (£37.50) spritzy Basque Country rose is made from organically farmed local varieties.

  • Address: 31 Baldwin St, Bristol BS1 1RG
  • Opening hours: Tuesday 12–2pm, 5:30–9:45pm, Wednesday 12–2pm, 5:30–9:45pm, Thursday 12–2pm, 5:30–9:45pm, Friday 12–2pm, 5:30–9:45pm, Saturday 5:30–9:45pm
  • www.marmo.restaurant

Two Belly

Two Belly Bristol wine bars

What we like about it

Though they might advertise themselves as a cheese and beer bar, the superlative Two Belly, located at the top of Whiteladies Road has more than enough wine to justify its inclusion in any list of the best wine bars of Bristol. Run by husband and wife Dominic Pulsford and Lara Issa, their passion and product knowledge shine though in the depth knowledge and enthusiasm or their staff. Prior to opening the shop, Dominic worked at Neal’s Yard.

Wine list

The list is straight Bristol, local, organic, natural, biodynamic and minimal intervention wines dominate. Quirkily, every wine on the list comes with a recommended cheese.

What to order

If you’re not feeling brave enough to go for a bottle of somerset red from Limeburn hill, try one of the more mainstream offerings on offer from one of the most noted natural winegrowers in Burgundy – Julien Guillot. Although the bottle looks quite traditional, Bourgogne Rouge Les Crays is a wild natural wine, packed full plum and raspberry. Dominic recommends this wine with Rachel’s reserve.

  • Address: 116 Whiteladies Rd, Clifton, Bristol BS8 2RP
  • Opening hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10am – 6pm
  • www.twobelly.co.uk

Cave Bristol

What we like about it

A wine shop by day and a bar and restaurant by night, Cave is located on the longest street of independent shops in the UK, Gloucester Road. Inspired by the Parisian caves à manger, in this relaxed setting, you can sample simple but delicious dishes alongside an extensive and well-sourced list of organic and biodynamic wines, and all at affordable prices.

Wine list

Each week, the staff at Cave select 10 wines to pour by the glass. This is the perfect opportunity to try lesser-known wines produced by sustainably focused producers. All wines from the shelf are available to drink at the bar for the retail price, plus a £10 corkage fee rather than the higher traditional restaurant mark up.

What to order

Italy’s Franciacorta region is becoming increasingly well regarded as a source of high-quality méthode traditionnelle sparklers. Among the best producers of this exciting new style is Alessandra Divella who farms two hectares of vineyards in Gussago and Cellatica. Unfiltered and aged on lees between 2-5 years, production is tiny at around just 7000 bottles per year. A bottle of the superlative Azienda Agricola Divella, Nini, non vintage goes for £59.20 at Cave. Don’t miss out.

  • Address: 286 Gloucester Rd, Bishopston, Bristol BS7 8PD
  • Opening hours: Tuesday 12pm – 7pm, Wednesday 12pm – 8pm, Thursday 12pm – 11pm, Friday 10am – 11pm, Saturday 10am – 11pm
  • www.cavebristol.co.uk

little french

What we like about it

The charm that typifies the best of the Bristol food scene is on show at this neighbourhood diner run by Freddy Bird. But don’t let the relaxed vibe and convivial space fool you, this restaurant is seriously good (its fans include Michel Roux Jr). Freddy’s wife Nessa, who runs the front of house, grew up in the Vosges and is passionate about the wine on the menu.

Wine list

“I want a really reasonably-priced wine-list,” Freddy said. “Can’t do the bottle? We’ll do it by the glass. I want people to come in and enjoy good wine; that’s fundamental”. The extensive and carefully curated wine list offers a diverse selection of affordable wines by the glass, albeit with bottles predominantly from France.

What to order

Go off-piste with a glass of Pinot Noir vom Kalkstein. German Pinot Noir is seriously underrated and this is equal of many a burgundy producer. Delicate and bright, this has that lush Pinot texture you crave without new world jamminess.

  • Address: 2 North View, Westbury Park, Bristol BS6 7QB
  • Opening hours: Monday-Saturday 12–2:30pm, 5–9:30pm, Sunday 12-4pm
  • littlefrench.co.uk

Tare

Tare, Bristol wine bars

Tare

What we like about it

Tare is a 20-cover restaurant situated on Bristol’s Wapping Wharf harbourside development, part of a large group of independent businesses operating from converted shipping containers on the city’s buzzing harbourside. Small dimensions, however, don’t mean small ambitions. Tare may be tiny but it is also one of the most exciting restaurants in Bristol right now

Wine list

There’s a short but brilliantly assembled global wine list that takes in everything from Gloucestershire to Serbia, alongside reassuringly solid selection of claret and Burgundy. Paired tastings are available and highly recommended.

What to order

Try something as interesting as the menu with a glass of Kövidinka from Oszkár Maurer in Serbia. The Maurer family has been producing wine for four generations in this part of the Balkans that was formerly owned by Hungary and their expertise shines through. This approachable orange wine is light, fresh and loaded with green apple and orange.

  • Address: 14 Museum St, Bristol BS1 6ZA
  • Opening hours: Sunday Closed, Monday Closed, Tuesday Closed, Wednesday 6–10pm, Thursday 6–10pm, Friday 6–10pm, Saturday 1–3:30pm, 6–10pm.
  • tarerestaurant.co.uk

The Quadrant

What we like about it

The Quadrant, located within a typically stylish corner building at the junction of Princess Victoria Street and Regent Street since 1866, calls itself “Bristol’s premier cafe and wine bar”. With the legend, ‘in vino veritas’ over the front door, the bar of this Clifton intuition is a haven for wine lovers from across the city.

Wine list

While there are usually more than 30 wines available by the glass, the Quadrant’s growing menu of over 30 international wines will have you buying by the bottle. The intimate wine cellar often hosts wine tasting events for an alternative evening out, catering to novices and connoisseurs alike.

What to order

Available by the glass, Domaine Bergon’s delicious cabernet franc is available lightly chilled – a suitably chic choice for Clifton.

  • Address: 64 Kellaway Ave, Bishopston, Bristol BS6 7XU
  • Opening hours Hours: Tuesday 5–11pm, Wednesday 5–11pm, Thursday 5–11pm, Friday 5pm–12am, Saturday 1pm–12am, Sunday 1–11pm, Monday 5–11pm
  • thequadrantclifton.co.uk

Casamia

What we like about it

Until 2011 Casamia was Bristol’s only Michelin starred restaurant, indeed. so highly lauded is Casamia that it was named the nation’s best restaurant in a televised competition run by Gordon Ramsay. Drawing inspiration from the Japanese emphasis on seasonality, this ambitious restaurant changes not only its menu but also the soft furnishings and décor along with each season.

Wine list

The creativity of the menu is reflected in the wine list. Although there are classics here, there’s plenty of more intriguing stuff too. Most visitors will go for the wine pairings flight.

What to order

Madeira is a fixture on the list at Casamia and invariably from Barbeito. Although a relatively small player in Madeira, this is one of the most talked about producers on the island. The company’s Rainwater 5 Year Old Reserva has a youthful golden colour with a nose loaded with nuts, orange peel and spice and fierce acidity.

  • Address: 8 The General, Lower Guinea St, Bristol BS1 6FU
  • Opening hours: Wednesday – Friday 6pm-10pm; Saturday 7 12pm- 10pm
  • www.casamiarestaurant.co.uk

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