The downturn in demand for what is sometimes euphemistically called 'fine dining' in London has led to a positive rash of activity designed to lure wine lovers to various restaurants and bars.
Today the exotically named, Russian-owned new Soho restaurant Bob Bob Ricard introduces a Reserve wine list 'that will enable customers to purchase rare and exclusive wines for a fraction of the typical cost found in most fine dining establishments. The new list, featuring bottles such as a 1995 L'Eglise Clinet and the 1985 Haut Brion, guarantees that a surcharge of no higher than £50 will be applied to any wine on the Reserve list. "A £50 surcharge per bottle is more than sufficient to cover the cost of selecting, sourcing, storing and serving big wines beautifully." - says Leonid Shutov, the co-owner of BBR [that's the restaurant, not Berry Bros - JR], "as a result of our guarantee, all the wines on the BBR Reserve list are well below typical London restaurant prices and many are even below the retail price. People that are used to having important wines when dining out will go home with a lot left in their wallets. The rest will have the opportunity to trade up to bigger wines without trading up to bigger margins," adds Shutov.'
I reproduce the Reserve list below more or less as sent to me, complete with Parker scores, though I have tried to add accents. You may enjoy perusal and cherry picking - though some will find even these prices unthinkably high for an evening out, eating what the restaurant describes as 'an expansive menu offering traditional British comfort food with a twist. Quirky options such as Jelly and Champagne sit happily with more traditional fare such as Beef Wellington or Macaroni Cheese.'
Nick writes about Bob Bob Ricard: 'Bob Bob Ricard, on the site of the former Circus, complete with a late night bar in the basement, is designed by David Collins who also designed The Wolseley. This connection is deliberate as BBR aims to serve the same comforting food available any time of day or night. Whether the design contributes or detracts from the overall pleasure is up to the customer. The food is not bad and not great.'
1 Bollinger Grande Année 1999 £98 92 Wine Advocate
2 Dom Pérignon 2000 £137 94 Wine Advocate
3 Pol Roger Cuvée Winston Churchill 1996 £141 95 Wine Advocate
4 Bollinger R.D. 1997 £144
5 Louis Roederer Cristal 2002 £192 96+ Wine Advocate (£298 Hakkasan)
6 Dom Perignon Oenothèque 1995 £209 96 Wine Advocate
7 Krug 1996 £221 98 Wine Advocate
8 Salon Le Mesnil 1997 £223 95 Wine Advocate
9 Krug Rosé NV £219 94 Robert Parker
10 Dom Pérignon Rosé 1998 238 94 Wine Advocate
11 Bollinger Vieillles Vignes Françaises 1999 £294 95 Wine Advocate (£710 Maze)
12 Louis Roederer Cristal 1996 £293 96 Wine Advocate
13 Krug 1990 £300 95 Robert Parker
14 Louis Roederer Cristal Rosé 2000 £393 95 Wine Advocate (£695 Hakkasan)
1 Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg, Cuvée Ste Catherine L'Inedit, Domaine Weinbach 1998 £70 93 Robert Parker
2 Corton-Charlemagne Grand Cru Domaine Louis Latour 2002 £112 91-93 Wine Advocate
3 Pavillon Blanc de Ch Margaux 1999 £125 90-91 Wine Advocate
4 Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru Domaine Verget 2000 £132 91-93 Wine Advocate (£420 The Greenhouse)
5 Meursault 1er Cru 'Les Charmes' Domaine Comtes Lafon 1999 £175 90-92 Wine Advocate (£503 The Greenhouse)
6 Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru 'Pucelles' Domaine Leflaive 2002 £189 93 Wine Spectator
7 Bâtard-Montrachet Grand Cru Domaine Leflaive 2002 331 £495 The Greenhouse
1 Chambertin-Clos de Bèze Grand Cru, Domaine Pierre Damoy 1999 £152 92-94 Wine Advocate
2 Ridge Montebello Cabernet Sauvignon, Santa Cruz 1997 £160 90-91 Robert Parker
3 Châteauneuf du Pape, Ch de Beaucastel 1989 £163 97 Robert Parker
4 Ch L'Eglise Clinet, Pomerol 1995 £170 96 Robert Parker (£345 The Greenhouse)
5 Sassicaia, Tenuta San Guido 2000 £175 85 Wine Advocate
6 Vega Sicilia Unico, Ribera del Duero 1995 £180 97 Wine Advocate
7 Ch Lynch Bages 5ème Cru Classé Pauillac 1989 £227 95 Robert Parker (£625 Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's, £661 Greenhouse)
8 Ch Ducru Beaucaillou 2ème Cru, St-Julien 1982 £237 96 Robert Parker
9 Ch Cheval Blanc 1er Grand Cru Classé, St-Emilion 1995 £261 92 Robert Parker (£670 Scott's)
10 Ch Cos d'Estournel 2ème Cru Classé St-Estèphe 1982 £271 95 Robert Parker
11 Ch Latour 1er Cru Classé Pauillac 1986 £309 90 Robert Parker (£920 Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's)
12 Ch Haut Brion 1er Cru Classé, Graves 1985 £318 94 Robert Parker (£1000 Gordon Ramsay at Claridge's)
13 Ch La Mission Haut Brion Cru Classe, Graves 1990 £339 96 Robert Parker
14 Ch Margaux 1er Cru Classé, Margaux 1985 £343 94 Robert Parker
15 Échezeaux Grand Cru, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti 1996 £443 90-92 Wine Advocate
Sweet in half bottles
1 Ch Rieussec 1er Cru Classé Sauternes 1989 £59 92 Robert Parker
2 Ch d'Yquem 1er Cru Classé Supérieur, Sauternes 2002 £109
3 Maximin Grünhauser 'Abtsberg' Riesling Eiswein, Carl von Schubert 2000 £112
4 Ch d'Yquem 1er Cru Classé Supérieur, Sauternes 1990 £196 99 Robert Parker (£310 The Greenhouse)
5 Ch d'Yquem 1er Cru Classé Supérieur, Sauternes1983 £218 96 Robert Parker
Bob Bob Ricard, 1 Upper James Street, Soho, London W1F 9DF
Tel +44 (0) 20 3145 1000
Meanwhile, over at the dramatically revamped Connaught Hotel in Mayfair (pictured), the new owners are due to introduce to the moody Coburg Bar a whole load of rare champagnes, described excitedly as 'an extremely exclusive (sic) collection of rare and vintage champagnes from three of the most highly renowned champagne houses in the world - Pol Roger, Krug and Ruinart. Mark Jenner, the manager of the Coburg Bar has personally negotiated with each house for the Coburg Bar to offer a selection of champagnes difficult to find anywhere else other than a private collection. One of the highlights includes the £6,000-a-bottle Pol Roger Vintage Brut 1914, of which there are less than 50 left in the world, and The Coburg Bar will be the only place you can buy it. It will also offer a selection of Ruinart vintages from 1982 to 2002, which are only currently available in France [I'm hoping to taste a few of these in Paris next month - JR]. In some cases, there will only be a case of a particular vintage left in the world. As well as a range of Sir Winston Churchill Pol Roger Cuvée (sic) champagnes, it will offer an incredibly impressive selection of Krug. Mark has even persuaded Frederic Paniotis to disgorge for him exclusively Dom Ruinart Rosé 1982 (in magnums) and Ruinart 1982 (also in magnums).'
These precious fizzes are perhaps aimed at sealing that very special business deal in the dark recesses of the Coburg Bar. Oligarchs only perhaps?
The Connaught Hotel, Mayfair, Carlos Place, London W1K 2AL
Tel +44 (0)20 7499 7070
We reported in members' forum, fine wine trader Bordeaux Index's innovative link with The Ledbury in Notting Hill over the summer whereby their clients could pay zero corkage on their own wines, a scheme that was highly successful by all accounts. Now Bordeaux Index announces that they are teaming up with this particularly wine-friendly Platts-Martin institution with its Australian chef Brett Graham for a series of fine wine dinners.
Nine decades of Domaine Huet, with Richard Kelley MW
29 Sep £295
Philipponnat Clos des Goisses, with Charles Philipponnat
7 Oct £165
Ch Gruaud Larose Old and New, with David Launay
21 Oct £175
Ch Climens, with Bérénice Lurton
13 Nov £165
Ch La Conseillante, with Jean-Michel Laporte
8 Dec £230
Prices are per head and include food and wine. Tickets are available for Bordeaux Index customers from Gareth Birchley on +44 (0) 20 7269 0703 or firstname.lastname@example.org
I can personally attest to the fact that the aforementioned Gareth Birchley is a certified wine fanatic. While at university in - Bath, I think it was - he pestered me mercilessly to go and speak to his university wine society, at precisely the time that my son was doing the same as treasurer of the Oxford Wine Circle, but Gareth was not to be deflected by that particular allegiance. He assailed my fellow wine writer Michael Schuster so effectively that, legend has it, Michael ended up laying on a tasting of 1982 bordeaux for him. They have subsequently ended up working together at Bordeaux Index.
I don't want others to think I will happily publicise all wine dinners. I'm mentioning these ones because Gareth has finally worn me down.
The Ledbury, 127 Ledbury Road, London W11 2AQ
Tel +44 (0)20 7792 9191