The four-storey brasserie and pizzeria — Mews of Mayfair — has announced it will open a new, separate wine shop and bar, in London’s west end on Friday 9 November. Its principal draw will be the availability of a number of rare, fine, (and eye-wateringly expensive) vintages by the glass.
Perhaps the most notable wine to be offered is one of the world’s most famous wines — Chateau Latour Grand Vin 1990 Bordeaux — which will be sold for an astonishing £1,000 by the bottle or a cool £230 by glass. (All glass measures of 125ml, for those wondering.)
The list, though, will not only change regularly, it will also include some comparatively affordable options, too. “Wines from all over the world at every price point,” Mews says.
Food-wise, the bar will offer a selection of cheeses and charcuterie. For the cheese menu, Mews has collaborated with St. James’s-based Paxton and Whitfield on a list that will include varieties from Britain, France, Italy, and Spain. Charcuterie will be supplied by Ham & Cheese in Bermondsey — three on rotation from southwest France, Emilia Romagna and Piedmont in northern Italy, and Tuscany.
The new venture is being led by Derryn Nel, Mews’ chief of operations, who moves from Angela Hartnett’s Merchant’s Tavern in Shoreditch. Ahead of opening next month, Nel said that the world of wine is often thought of as elite and unapproachable.
“At Mews we wanted to break down that barrier and open that world up to a wider audience. You will be able to buy a selection of our rare wines by the glass, which in other places, you would find sold only by the bottle,” Nel said. Although traditionally ‘inaccessible’ wines being made available by the glass (because of Coravin technology) is not new, offering what Mews is outside of a private members club is an extraordinary move, made possible largely by its locale. In Mayfair, money talks.
To mark the opening, an event at the shop will see 28-year-old Cristal champagne poured from a magnum, while a bottle of Chateau Latour (1982; worth over £500) will be raffled.
Elsewhere, a number of wines, which are rarely found in London will be served, including the unlabelled natural and organic Spanish red from Els Jelipins. And two notable, “top tier” South African wines by Eben Sadie of the Swartland: white Paladius (£85 bottle / £22 glass) and the red Collumella (unpriced).
Another of Bordeaux’s most famous wines — Chateau Haut Brion (2005) — will also be available by the glass, however a price for it is yet to be finalised. A similarly showy wine from the French southwest — Chateau Lascombes, 2eme Cru, Margaux 1996 — will be available only in magnum, for £280.
France is a strong suit, with wines (from the Loire) starting at £10 a glass — and moving through Beaujolais (at £15 a glass) to the Rhone valley (£18 – £27 a glass), and into Burgundy where there are options at £20, £27, and £28 a glass.
Wine bars, like bakeries, are another increasingly popular mode for restaurant operators seeking to moderately diversify in order to sustain an overall business portfolio. And, despite the cost increases on imports since the Brexit vote, it hasn’t materially frightened away either the bar owners or their customers.
Indeed, London’s many old, new, and soon-to-open wine bars remain (or will become) some of the city’s most interesting places not just to drink, but also to eat.