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Vinoteca Restaurant in Farringdon has been my go to spot for a fair few months now. I’ve spent so many hours here over the past 3-4 months and tweeted my experiences so often that it’s kinda bonkers that this is the first mention on the Wine90 blog.
Vinoteca is one of those wine bars that, due to the sheer variety of wines on offer, makes it a perfect stop for your lunch hour or for a mid afternoon wine by the glass option or even for a pre-dinner sherry. Yet, it’s taken me a full year back in my hometown of London, to get my glad rags on and eat here.
It’s confession time. I don’t often write restaurant reviews. I find myself crippled with the same affliction which hit my dining partner that evening, I’m going to call it the palate collywobbles. Whilst she became obviously nervous at the pre-dinner wine flights fearing I would subject her every comment to full on scrutiny, I, by the same token, can start to doubt my own palate and description thereof, when it comes to food.
This may shock some readers, but I’ve been eating food since I was a toddler, that I should question my ability to taste food, I reassured my friend, is exactly as ridiculous as her fear that she might taste the wines incorrectly. As long as you have four of your five senses working for you on any given day, you can taste wine. Even I draw the line at listening to the wine, but if you do hear a whistle or a slight popping to your wine, then you’re probably a little under the weather and should consult your GP.
So the scene is set, Vinoteca, wine flights, full meal, wine tasting virgin as dining companion, OK we’re good so far? Great.
For any self confessed wine novice Vinoteca makes your life pretty easy. Food and wine matching can be a fun game to play but if you get it wrong, and you’re stumping up plenty ‘o pounds for your food, it can also be a perilous game. Fear not. At Vinoteca they have paired all the meals on the menu with a carefully thought out by the glass suggestion. However, I like to play fast and wild and Vinoteca’s 280 strong by the bottle selection was too tempting so I opted for the very fairly priced 01 Borgogno Barolo Riserva. Not at all predictable behaviour on my part.
As this is no Tarantino movie, let’s review the wines and the food in chronological order.
Pre Dinner Wine Selection
You can view all of Vinoteca’s wines by the glass here. I chose;
Schloss Vollrads Erstes Gewachs Riesling 2004
A vibrant golden colour in the glass. Fast and fruity on the nose with acres of melon, honeysuckle and peach on the initial sniff with a lasting honey aroma towards the end. On the palate the wine is rich, juicy and more tropical than expected. Starts out quite fat with the acid rushing forth just before a fair finish that continues in that tropical theme. Rhinegau texture but colour and palate?! Not typical perhaps but enjoyable. 87 Points
Monte Bernardi Chianti Classico 2005A deep ruby red to the rim. Simple profile to the nose with straight and expected cherry and vanilla though also a little dusty with hints of chocolate and coffee or to be fanciful, a cherry Bakewell tart with cappuccino sprinkles. Same focused approach to the palate, definite Chianti though not complex, high acid, firm tannins, mid bodied with a balanced finish. 88 Points
La Guita Manzanilla
A light golden green colour but getting a touch of those “past it’s primes” you can get when your Sherry is just that month too long in the tooth. Still retained great salt and nut flavours on the palate. On the nose detectable cantaloupe, hints of grass and lemon. Focus has diminished a touch perhaps due to being a month too old or a.n.other fault? As such can’t rate the wine fairly.
I like to think of myself as fairly unpretentious at least in the world of wine. In the food world however I know well enough what I want and that is..
A generous portion
Tastes and textures that compliment one another
Lastly, I hate, with a passion detest, food that is overly dry or … too moist.
I have to hand it to Vinoteca, there are so many restaurants trying to double as wine bars, and, wine bars trying to double as restaurants that fall so far short it’s red cheeked embarrassing, but not here. The food outshone the wine. The food outshone the Barolo. The Italian Wine Blogger says the Food@Vinoteca outshone a Barolo. That’s huge news.
To Begin: Selection of Spanish cured meats, almonds & olives – £7.25
Full size plate covered in typical Spanish meats which paired up really well with the sherry. These were not overly fatty cuts that you can find in many London restaurants, well presented.
Main Course: Gressingham duck breast, chanterelles & trompettes, farro, cimi di rape – £16Succulent duck breast with the most mop-up-able jus I’ve had for a long while and once again generous portions and well presented.
There was no room for dessert. I don’t think I’ve ever said or written those words before. Weird.
Borgogno Barolo Riserva 2001A classic ruby red fading tawny to the rim. A sweet violet nose with touches of marzipan, tar and wild strawberries even. Still a little young, the palate is still a touch tannic and bitter but loosening up over time. A good freshness here though and a balance of force and elegance that showed toward the latter as the evening wore on. Didn’t blow me away but still a solid 90 points for my palate.
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Where is your current go to restaurant or wine bar? Any city.