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English Wine Week: London’s best bars for drinking everything from Sussex fizz to Battersea red

Whether it’s award-winning bubbly or a roof-raising red, the capital is a hotspot for home-grown goodness

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All that fizz: England’s winemakers can now rival their counterparts in Champagne

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By
22 June 2022
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his week is English Wine Week, a celebration of — you guessed it — boozy bottles from our very own rolling hills.

Where once it meant dodgy bottles of back-garden plonk, now our fantastic fizz is leading the charge, regularly sweeping up at awards and competitions to rival players in Champagne. Quality has soared across the last decade in particular, and with a climate similar to Champagne and those very same chalk soils burrowing beneath the Channel to crop up in the south of England, perhaps it was always meant to be.

While Sussex, Kent and Hampshire are the regions grabbing attention on the world stage, look elsewhere too — you’ll find cracking stuff from Cornwall to Devon, Essex to Oxfordshire, and even in Wales.

Aside from the bubbles, fresh apple-and-elderflower whites, and a growing number of delicate and refined reds are beginning to make a name for themselves too. Britain’s native wines are worth raising a glass to, and London’s bars are in-the-know: The Ritz, The Mulwray, Berners Tavern and 67 Pall Mall have all been known to pop some patriotic corks from time to time. But some places are going a little further to champion the humble English wine — so raise a glass and toast the local talent at one of London’s top spots of a glass of home-grown goodness.

Oxeye Restaurant

@oxeyerestaurant

An homage to all things indigenous, Oxeye Restaurant spotlights the best of British ingredients throughout the food menu. English and Welsh wines dominate the list, with an extraordinary 205 bottles of the stuff. Chef-owner (and Masterchef winner) Sven-Hanson Britt’s carefully selected collection shows the breadth of what the country can produce, from luxury single vineyard bubbles — like the rather exquisite Nyetimber Tillington — to barrel-aged, velvet-soft pinot noir from hyper-local Battersea winemaker Blackbook.

Embassy Gardens, 14 New Union Square, W11, oxeyerestaurant.co.uk

Vinoteca

Brett Woonton and Charlie Young helped to redefine the city’s wine bars when they opened the first Vinoteca in Farringdon in 2005, with the neighbourhood haunt’s casual vibe and cheery “wine for everyone” ethos that’s now so widely copied. They now have a fleet of bars across the city: Kings Cross, Marylebone, Chiswick, The City, and the newly launched Borough Yards, and while each has its own style, all have an English wine or two.

From good value bubbles to zippy whites and the lesser-spotted English red wine, there’s plenty to explore — bag a table and linger over a glass of Bee Tree Single Vineyard Pinot Noir from Sussex for an example of what the world’s most lauded grape can do in the UK (spoiler: it’s ripe, juicy cherries, berries and hedgerow fruit, and even more delicious when served slightly chilled).

Vinoteca, across London, vinoteca.co.uk

The George

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The George landed in late 2021 from the folks behind the much-loved Cadogan Arms in Chelsea, bringing cask ales, cocktails and Great British grub to an 18th century listed pub in the heart of Fitzrovia. The first floor, Upstairs at The George, has its very own English sparkling wine bar, with a list of more than 150 to choose from. Crack open one of England’s new-wave wines, like the Ortega rosé from Westwell in Kent, or compare styles from across the country with sips from the Chilterns, Cotswolds and Devon. Keep a lookout for a regular series of English wine tastings, too.

The George, 55 Great Portland St, W1, thegeorge.london

The Coral Room

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Opulent, a touch outrageous, and in the spirit of the Roaring Twenties with bold art deco decor and salon-style central bar, The Coral Room is a grand affair, and delightfully good fun. Cocktails and English fizz are the order of the day, with the list arranged by county, so you can taste your way around bottles from Buckingham, Cornwall, Dorset and more. House favourite is Ridgeview wine estate “Bloomsbury” Cuvée NV from East Sussex. If the charismatic Giovanni Spezziga is in, ask him for a hand in deciding what to go for.

16-22 Great Russell St, WC1, thecoralroom.co.uk

Noble Rot

Proud disruptors of wine snobbery, Noble Rot’s incredible selection wins awards year after year for its thoughtful, original curation. It proudly boasts a treasure trove of finds from around the world, which includes a small but perfectly formed selection of home-grown heroes, including those that triumphed in the bar’s very own Champagne vs English sparkling blind tasting, which crowned English sparklers as a genuine alternative to Champagne. Try a few to see if you agree — all in the name of research, of course…

51 Lamb’s Conduit St, WC1, noblerot.co.uk

The Fortnum’s Bar & Restaurant at The Royal Exchange

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Within the impressive courtyard of the Royal Exchange, Fortnum’s bar and restaurant may be among the most Instagrammable restaurants in town, but it serves up more than just good looks. Go for the quintessential English experience by tucking into oysters, caviar, smoked salmon, or fish and chips, and quaff it down with a bottle of great British bubbles.

The Courtyard, The, Royal Exchange, EC3, fortnumandmason.com

NoMad Restaurant

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Classic and dignified, opulent and refined, stately yet stylish: Covent Garden’s striking NoMad Hotel takes residence in the Grade II-listed former home of Bow Street Magistrates Court, the central courtyard of which is now home to an urban oasis. Three floors rise up beneath a glass conservatory ceiling, and guests wine and dine beneath tumbling ravines and hanging lamps. It’s a fine spot for a glass of bubbles, and the list just has a section dedicated to England’s finest. Try Gusbourne Blanc de Blanc from Kent, or go rose-tinted with Exton Park Brut Rose from Hampshire.

28 Bow St, WC2, thenomadhotel.com

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