Category Archives: Making NOPI

Tasting NOPI @bibendumwine

Yes I know. A week of wine tasting sounds fab. And yes I know you’re now waiting for me to tell you how hard a job this is. Well take my advice and trust me on this one: as hard as they can get, wine tastings are fun and anyone who begs the differ has a serious laziness issue.

So here we are again in day #2 of our massive tasting week (you can check our prelude and day #1 here) and this time I’m meeting old friends at the Bibendum HQ in Primrose Hill. Having spent a year socializing the wine world with the Bibendumites, tasting wine here feels like the reasonable thing to do. But nostalgia and business apart we’re here (we’re here) to get the coolest wine list in town going.

Having consulted Allesandra (my longtime Bib partner), we managed to agree on a shortlist of around 40 wines. This might seems like a lot of wine to taste but it is really the bare minimum. In order to get a cracking 70bins wine list, one has to go through at least triple the amount, which is, as already mentioned, a tough job.

This was the task of the day

the day's line up

The secret of a good wine list is no secret at all. Like any other aspect of our lives balance is the key here. But there’s one main ingredient that cannot be ignored, creativity. Nothing is easier than writing the same wine list again and again. The city’s full of them. The NOPI peeps agreed to take this approach one step further and demolish the usual wine list structure. So not only will we have unusual wines from interesting regions but we will also group the wines into some pretty unusual mini categories. And not just one, but many & all different ones. We are leaving the boring list by country, style or price behind and sorting the wines by their story. Wines can be categorized only by grape, by the special conditions in which they are grown, by the very good year they grew up in, or by the unusual winemaking techniques which were applied…but I guess you’ll have to see it to dig it.

Enough reveiled for one post, instead, here are the wines I liked best and a video where Yotam, Osh & Basha give us their top pics

Friendly Gruner Veltliner, Laurenz V (Niederösterreich, Austria)

Maybe the day’s favourite. From winery devoted to just a single grape variety: Grüner Veltliner.Super friendly indeed.

Vibrant freshness with loads fo herbacious notes. Very clean style with very light hint of residual, loads of aromatics & mouth watering acidity. Very good length as the minerality keeps on giving on and on and…

Wild Yeast Chardonnay, Spingfield Estate (Robertson, South Africa)

An unwooded Chardonnay, tank fermented with native yeast 70 days alcoholic fermentation 100% malolactic was allowed naturally 13 months on the lees. Unlike any Chardonnay you ever had!

Very complex nose with loads of bread & almond notes. Very intense on the palate. Loads of bready, martzipan flavours lifted with a fine mineral acidity.

Pinot Noir, A to Z Wineworks (Oregon, USA)

A interesting pick for our Pinot Noir group. Not often can you taste such a dangerously drinkable wine for such a friendly price. Simplicity at its best.

Lovely soft nose, beautiful primary and fresh fruit coming through. Pronounced strawberry on the palate with some soft aromatics. Light leafy character with a touch ripe fruit.

Morgon, Domaine Marcel Lapierre (Beaujolais, France)

Who’s afraid of natural wine? And who ever said Beaujolais can’t rock? Marcel Lapierre, the godfather of natural wine, passed away last summer. He shall be missed.

Light manure notes on the nose, then a burst of fresh red fruits comes through. Fantastic freshness on the palate, minerality and an intriguing combination of soft spices, black sour cherries and some leafy notes.

And as promised, here’s team NOPI thoughts of the day

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Tasting NOPI #1

Most people tend to hide their firm belief in superstitions, I don’t. I know it’s bad, and it sometime gets to the stupidest of things. If the next car turns right then great day ahead, but if not, I might as well spend the day at home, safe.

None of this was happening on our way to the very first tasting session for the new NOPI, we had more important issues to sort. Me & @oshposh were trying hard to concentrate on how to get to Surrey. Are we still in London or are we in no man’s land already?

But luck (and Mark from Astrum…) proved to be on our side you see, and despite the miserable weather, distance and my sudden allergies, we made it to Astrum Wine Cellar’s warehouse, all set to go. Maybe I’m not totally obsessed with superstitions after all…or am I?

Specializing in Italian wine complimented with some interesting picks from Austria, Germany, France and even Hungary, I felt that Astrum is a pretty safe place to kick off this week of wine.

But with a couple of hundred of wines on offer, how to decide what to taste? Well it’s mainly about knowing how things taste and what can work on the wine list. I always try to taste only relevant wines and not to get carried away with personal preferences or suggestions.  Mark & myself worked on and selected a respectable line up, which as agreed was patiently waiting for us, when we entered the room, Tah da!

I’ve tasted most of these wines before, and they all proved to be solid and interesting. Bellow is the list of our line up and my notes of the most exciting bottles

White best

Furmint, Tornai 07

Notoriously known for producing Tokaji, this dry version of Furmint comes from the region of Somló, Hungary bien sur!

Pronounced nose with loads of ripe stone fruit, melon & passion fruit with the lightest botrytis hint. Very ripe stone fruit, Chamomile, white fruit. Quite complex without loosing focus nor intensity. interesting with good VFM.

Riesling, Verus 08

Super exciting riesling from Ormoz north-eastern Slovenia. Versus = True (Latin). Even JR is excited!

Honeyd nose with stone and lime fruit, almost sweet. Ever so light petillance, touch of sweetnes but really sharp and fresh. oily texture, hint of sugar but then a very precise and sharp citrusy character.

And rest

Salento Bianco, Feudi di San Marzano 09

Lugana, Selva Capuzza 08

Gavi di Gavi, Produttori del Gavi 09

Terlaner Classico, Cantina Terlano 09

Pinot Grigio, Cantina Adriano 09

Riesling, Ignaz Nierdist 09

Fiano D’Avelino, Piertracupa 08

Red best

Wien.2, Pfaffl 09

Made out of Zweikelt and PN grown in the region of Weinviertel right in the outskirts of Vienna

Soft and sweet red fruit. Touch of armomatics, with a nice amount of green notes but balanced. Fresh, mineral, good texture, very good fruit with a good amount of spices and a creamy like texture. This is great and would work well by the glass. And perhaps in the “is it Pinot?” group. Zweikelt and PN.

Barbaresco, Produttori del Barbaresco 05

Possibly the best co-op in the world? Brings affordable + quality to BArbaresco!

Strong and pronounced nose. Loads of fruit with some serious liquorice and minty notes. Spectacular palate, silk,y velvety if even very straight and sharp. coffee, leather & mint, very good stuff indeed. A touch of meaty character and a very good balance. Very drinkable.

Salento Rosso, Feudi di San Marzano 09

Valpolicella Classico, Le Salette 09

Garda Groppello 09

Barbazzzale, Nerello Mascalese 09

Nebbiolo, Coste della Sesia, Travaglini 08

Chianti Colli Senesi, Slacheto 09

Nebbiolo Langhe, Produttori del Barbaresco 08

Fatagione, Cottanera 07

Pinot Nero, Cantina Terlano 09

With the first session of our mission now accomplished we were a happy lot on our train back to London. With a rather clear idea in mind if what could fit the NOPI bill and cars taking the right turns on request, this felt like a good day in the office.

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Prelude to NOPI

So me and @oshposh are making the wine list for Ottolenghi’s new restaurant; NOPI. But you know it already, you’re a keen reader, I can tell.

Lets talk a bit about making wine lits then…

Obviously, we’re super excited. And not only from the fact that we’ll get to taste so many (V good we hope) wines but also because we about to work with real friends and make something really special together.

This wine list will be all about simplicity and fun. It aims to be a great tool that will help dinners make the right wine choice for them. Despite the fact that some of the wines will be challenging, different and unusual, it will be a pleasure to choose from. A good wine lists needs facilitate the wine choice and that’s what we’re here for. To list top wines and make it look easy.

The next few posts will take you through the process of making wine lists. Some may say it’s not as easy at is seems to be, all i’ll say is that it IS as much fun as it seems it is.

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