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Bath – a wine lover’s guide

Bath, famous since Roman times for its thermal waters, is now garnering attention as a wine lover’s dream city break. Here is your guide to this West Country destination’s wine offering in its many varied forms.

Even as few as five years ago, Bath’s wine map charted a course through the grand Georgian doorways of its luxury hotels and their in-house restaurants. Today the landscape has changed dramatically. A constellation of wine-focused bars and restaurants — often combining retail and small plates — has given wine lovers a delicious dilemma. Best of all, there’s something for all tastes.

Le Vignoble

Best for… ethical wines

What we like about it

Tucked away in central shopping haven Milsom Place, Le Vignoble is a chic wine bar and shop with sister operations in Bristol and Plymouth. Come summer, you’ll find sun-splashed tables outside cluttered with wine glasses, small plates and cheese & charcuterie boards. Le Vignoble is the first stop for those who want to discover what they like or find some new tastes.

Wine list

Its co-owner, Yannick Loué, is a part of a cooperative of independent wine merchants buying wines that are ethical, sustainable, and can be quite niche. The 300-strong wine selection, however, has you covered if you’re not feeling adventurous. Thirty-two of those wines are available on the enomatic wine dispensers which offer tasting samples for 75p.

What to order

Embrace the unusual with a glass of zesty ‘Monkey Morio’ — a fruity muscat from German producer Hanewald Schwerdt. However, with so much ‘on tap’, this is a place for self-guided learning.

  • Address: 12/13 Milsom Place, Bath, BA1 1BZ
  • Opening hours: Tuesday to Thursday 12pm – 9pm; Friday and Saturday 12pm – 22pm
  • Levignoble.co.uk

The Saloon

Best for… vegan and natural wine

What we like about it

Owned by Wolf Wine — a natural wine (and craft beer) shack — The Saloon offers a fun, slyly ironic setting within which to try some natural wines. Monthly food pop-ups take place in the covered patio garden — think East African street food — as well as live music.

Wine list

In the Saloon, you’ll find a concentrated selection of the Shack’s organic, biodynamic, and small batch catalogue. The list changes seasonally and the six guest wines switch as stock dictates. Prices are mostly mid-range, starting at £9, with Champagne Deville topping the list at £66.

What to order

Try a glass (or bottle) of Wolf Wine mainstay Lemoss, a quaffable pét-nat from Venetian Ca’ Di Rajo winery. Check out owner Sam Shaw’s ‘Wine to make you think’ suggestions, changing bi-weekly, to tap into his infectious passion for his list.

  • 72, Lower Bristol Road, Bath, BA2 3HB
  • Thursday and Friday 4: 30pm – 11pm; Saturday 1pm – 11pm
  • wolfwine.co.uk

Corkage

Best for… French wines

What we like about it

Corkage is a casual-yet-classy bistro that has become the city’s go-to for a long weekend lunch. Previously a wine and small plates pop-up operating off of a camping stove, Corkage has settled into a permanent site just off Queen’s Square (and with a proper kitchen). It also has a retail element, courtyard garden (covered when cold), small bar up front, and an irresistibly welcoming air.

Wine list

Corkage has a broad range of 140 wines that currently happens to have a French focus. Bottles start at £25 and the menu includes a ‘Vintage/Rare Wines’ section with prices into the troposphere. If you’re drinking by the glass there are up to 15 wines available with a further eight on the restaurant’s Coravin system.

What to order

The inexpensive Pinot Noir-esque Beck Ink Zweigelt (£34) is a nice match for your ox tongue cassoulet. Then there’s the Sancerre Blanc from winemaker Jean-Paul Balland — one of the first to age Sauvignon Blanc in oak. It’s a characterful wine with mineral freshness.

  • 5 Chapel Row, Bath, BA1 1HN
  • Monday to Thursday 5pm – 12am; Friday to Saturday 12pm – 12am
  • Corkagebath.co.uk

Beckford Bottle Shop

Best for… quality wines at an affordable price

What we like about it

Red leather sofas, flickering candles, and walls of bottles make the Beckford Bottle Shop, just off the Circus, a highly convivial setting to enjoy award-winning seasonal small plates with a glass or two. The bottle shop is all around you and there’s a flat fee of £15 corkage on whatever price wine you buy (except for Tuesdays when the corkage is waived). The knowledgeable staff are great at understanding what you like and at guiding you somewhere new.

Wine list

Some vintage fine wines are available, but the list here is predominantly ready-to-drink bottles ranging from between £15 to £30. The selection rotates frequently and while it has a traditional heart, you’ll also find orange wines, ‘middle ground’ natural wines alongside more obscure appellations.

What to order

Something of a standard bearer for the BBB philosophy, the Greek ‘Ktima Gerovassiliou, Epanomi’ is a blend of half Malagousia and half Assyrtico grapes. It’ll do a wonderful job — with its deliciously aromatic and mineral character — of banishing those memories of bad Retsina.

  • 5 – 8 Saville Row, Bath, BA1 2QP
  • Tuesday to Saturday 11am – 11pm
  • beckfordbottleshop.com

Vino Vino

Best for… discovering wine

What we like about it

Near to Bath Royal Theatre, Vino Vino’s expansive heated terrace is a popular spot for a pre-show aperitif. Serving cocktails as well as a wine list sourced from all over the globe, it attracts a wide demographic and feels like a comfortable place for wine newbies to stretch their wings. Its good value eclectic small plates include spicy fish tacos (£9) and there’s an excellent West Country cheeseboard.

Wine list

You’ll find wines from all over the globe at Vino Vino including more niche names such as Didier Dagueneau and Emidio Pepe. The list changes every two months with the crowd-pleasing wines by the glass selection rotated regularly as well.

What to order

Pop your cork with a glass of ‘Tickerage Blanc de Blancs 2011’ from East Sussex. This small production sparkling wine is a crisp glass of gold and cream. By the bottle there’s the excellent value ‘Zenato, Ripassa Valpolicella Ripasso Superiore 2015’ (£48) or, the superbly structured ‘Vie di Romans, Dessimis Pinot Grigio’ (£65).

  • 5 – 6 Seven Dials, Saw Close, Bath, BA1 1EN
  • Monday to Thursday 12pm – 12am; Friday – Saturday 12pm – 1am
  • Vinovinowinebar.co.uk

Olive Tree Restaurant

Best for… British wines

What we like about it

Former winner of the AA’s Best Wine List in the UK and Bath’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, the Olive Tree resides within the boutique Queensberry Hotel. Chef Chris Cleghorn oversees the nine-course tasting menu, with wine pairing, of Modern British/European cuisine. A vegan version is available.

Wine list

With a philosophy of finding wines that you won’t get anywhere else in Bath, the Olive Tree’s list draws from all over the globe. They have developed a focus on English and Welsh wines, stocking intriguing homegrown labels like White Castle in Abergavenny, Ancre Hill, Bluestone, and Hattingley Valley. Prices start at £30 and go up to £200.

What to order

The restaurant’s entry level white, Gwin Gwyn 2019 from White Castle (£58), is a cracker—aromatic and very food-friendly. Considering the restaurant has exclusivity over Gusbourne’s Pinot Noir Rose in Bath, this is the perfect bottle for a sunny day in the hotel’s gorgeous garden.

  • The Queensberry Hotel and Olive Tree Restaurant, Russel Street, Bath, BA1 2QF
  • Tuesday to Thursday 6:30pm – 9pm/ Friday to Sunday 12:30 – 1:30pm, 6:30pm to 9pm
  • Olivetreebath.co.uk

Comptoir + Cuisine

Best for… Grower Champagne

What we like about it

A small shopfront with a rotating selection of cheeses in the window lures you into a cosy and eclectic ramble of rooms that is part bistro, part shop, and part champagne and cheese lounge. More than 200 different French farmhouse cheeses are on rotation at Comptoir + Cuisine with their cheeseboards acting as a kind of exploratory lucky dip (informed by your tastes).

Wine list

Comptoir + Cuisine’s focus on grower Champagne offers oenophiles the opportunity to taste beyond the big names. There are 35 bottles to choose from with grower champagne by the glass in the bistro alongside an affordable selection of French white and reds (nothing over £40).

What to order

The Michel Furdyna ‘La Romane’ Pinot Blanc Extra Brut is made entirely with Pinot Blanc grapes from centurion vines. It’s delicate with notes of almond and the perfect balance to a board of muscular farmhouse cheeses.

  • 5 George Street, Bath, BA1 2EJ
  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday 12 to 3pm, 6pm to 10pm/Friday and Saturday, 12pm to 3pm, 6pm to 11pm
  • comptoirpluscuisine.com

Novel Wines

Best for… Central and Eastern European wines

What we like about it

An unprepossessing shop front opens into an easy-going mix of wine and bottle shop with an outstanding selection of international wines from terroir less travelled. The regular wine and cheese evenings are excellent for discovering less high-profile regions.

Wine list

The selection includes wines from Central & Eastern Europe, Asia, South America (Brazil, Chile, Uruguay), England & Wales, and beyond. Novel Wines offers wines by the glass and charges £5 corkage on any wine to drink in.

What to order

Pick up one of their exceptional dry Tokaj wines made from Furmint, Harslevleu, (or a blend of both) that offers a taste of some of the best white wine styles coming out of Hungary. Anyone who loves sushi should try and then buy (in bulk) the elegant Grace Koshu Kayagatake 2020 from Japan.

  • 7 Cork Place, Upper Bristol Road, Bath, BA1 3BB
  • Monday to Saturday 10am – 6pm
  • Novelwines.co.uk

Berdoulat

Best for… southwest French

What we like about it

This hidden gem, which opened this year, is located on a pedestrianised street between the Circus and the Royal Crescent. A boutique department store, there’s a knockout selection of mid-range wines on the building’s original mid-19th-century wine shelves. You can order wines by the glass or buy a bottle to enjoy (£8 corkage). We are excited for the themed supper clubs with wine pairings, featuring Michelin-starred chefs, that begun last month (January).

Wine list

A European selection of wines with a focus on southwest France (the owner, Patrick, hails from the region). The emphasis is on small scale, low intervention vineyards making classic styles in off-piste appellations.

What to order

Try Domaine du Cros, Cuvee Vieilles Vignes 2018 from the Marcian appellation inland from Bordeaux. Made from the unusual fer servadou grape variety, this well-structured wine exemplifies the Berdoulat approach.

  • 8 Margaret’s Buildings, Bath, BA1 2LP
  • Tuesday to Thursday 9am – 5:30pm/Friday & Saturday 9am – 6pm
  • Berdoulat.co.uk

Royal Crescent Hotel

Best for… conventional classics

What we like about it

The Royal Crescent Hotel, (pictured top) embedded in the centre of the famous crescent, is a luxury establishment with all the trimmings. Its heart is the finely tailored 3 AA Rosette-awarded Dower House Restaurant which offers seven or five-course tasting menus, as well as a la carte. In the summer, come for brunch and impeccable service in the garden which, with its size, could pass a park in Bath.

Wine list

The list compiled by the hotel’s award-winning head sommelier, Jean-Marc Leitao, reflects his French background. There’s plenty of accessible options around £40 up to the swiftly less accessible ‘Le Tresors De La Cave’. Herein is stocked riches such as Château Latour, 1er Grand Cru Classé and Vega-Sicilia Unico Gran Reserva, Ribera del Duero 2004.

What to order

Try the intense Tannat from Uruguayan producer, Bodega Garzón. If that’s a little too punchy for the early stages of the tasting menu, go for the elegant cherry and strawberry freshness of the Nalle Pinot Noir, from Sonoma’s Hopkins Ranch, instead.

  • The Royal Crescent Hotel & Spa, 16 Royal Crescent, Bath, BA1 2LS
  • Monday to Sunday 7:30am – 11pm

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