Chablis on Thames: the rise of the urban winery

If you could possibly arrange a winery anyplace in the world, the place would you do it? In sun-baked Tuscany? On a grassy hillside in Sonoma? Or how a few railway arch in Battersea, south London? Because that’s the place you’ll discover Blackbook – a winery that’s quick rising as one of the most fun in the English wine scene.

Neither of Blackbook’s founders are from London, and even England for that matter. Winemaker Sergio Verrillo, 40, grew up in Connecticut, the son of Italian and Hungarian immigrants. He moved to London in the 2000s to work as a sommelier at Gordon Ramsay’s Maze and Chez Bruce, earlier than retraining as a winemaker in 2010. His spouse Lynsey was born in Aberdeenshire and raised in Edinburgh.

But when it got here to establishing Blackbook, the pair knew it was London or bust: “We are each metropolis individuals – we’re captivated with this metropolis,” says Verrillo. “We love its vibrancy, its power and its tradition, and we attempt to replicate that in our wines.”

Blackbook winery relies at a railway arch in Battersea

Inside the winery, which uses only English fruit

Inside the winery, which makes use of solely English fruit

London is house to 4 wineries: Blackbook, London Cru and Vagabond in the south-west, and Renegade in the east. What makes Blackbook totally different to some of its friends is the undeniable fact that the winery solely makes use of English fruit. Most of that comes from Essex, and all of it from vineyards inside a two-hour radius of London. Verrillo’s huge loves are Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – varietals he acquired to know nicely whereas serving apprenticeships at Flowers in Sonoma, Burgundy’s De Montille and Ata Rangi in New Zealand. His wines can be classed as “pure” by some – the wines are fermented with wild yeasts and bottled unfiltered with minimal sulphur – however in addition they have purity and polish.

“Their Chardonnays are world class,” says Gus Gluck, founder of Quality Wines in Farringdon and GB Wine Shippers. “They have a structural high quality, a diamond-like texture, that jogs my memory of thrilling Chablis. They’re the first nonetheless English wines I’ve tasted that you could possibly actually lay down.”

Blackbook’s Pygmalion 2018, £25, and Painter of Light 2019, £19

Blackbook’s Pygmalion 2018, £25, and Painter of Light 2019, £19

The 2019 Painter of Light, made with grapes from Clayhill in Essex, is luminous – citrusy, with a contact of salt. The 2018 Pygmalion Chardonnay has extra oaky energy – Bramley apple, brandy butter – that may in all probability produce a extra profound wine in the long term.

One of my favorite rosés of final summer time was Blackbook’s 2018 I’d Rather be a Rebel Pinot Noir; the 2019 (launching at the finish of April) is leaner nevertheless it’s acquired great vigorous crunch: raspberry, rose, pink grapefruit and a effective, structured tannin.

Blackbook’s hanging labels (all by the Yarza Twins studio in Whitechapel) are a homage to the metropolis – one quotes a tile sample from Tate Britain, one other a florette from the Royal Opera House. The label on the white mix The Mix Up was impressed by Warren Street Tube station. And the winery has grown right into a hub for the area people. “All round us are small companies – distilleries, wine retailers, craft brewers, meals corporations,” says Verrillo. “We’ve hosted supper golf equipment and drink festivals, we’re collaborating on a beer with the close by Mondo brewery, and we’re doing a vermouth. Every harvest we welcome dozens of volunteers to work in the winery. That capability to achieve out to individuals and do enjoyable issues is a giant half of why we love being in London.”


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LONDON: London Cru

Founded in Fulham by Cliff Roberson of Roberson Wines in 2013, London Cru was the capital’s authentic urban winery. It’s been utilizing solely English fruit since 2017 – the Sauvignon Blanc-like Bacchus grape is one of its calling playing cards. Baker Street, £15, 1307 4741 8f18 4a0c0d6f8031

NEW YORK: Red Hook Winery

Since 2008, this Brooklyn winery has been championing small vineyards throughout New York State. Winemaker Abe Schoener additionally runs the cult Scholium Project in LA. Abe Schoener Jamesport Vineyard Chardonnay 2016, $35, e143 40fc 9f71 a2fd03d35e08

CAPE TOWN: Savage Wines

Formerly winemaker at Cape Point, Duncan Savage is one of the hottest names in the South African new wave. Based in the hipster enclave of Woodstock, he’s recognized for his elegant, perfumed reds – attempt Savage Red 2018 (£30). 99dd 4e49 b0a0 cbcc2331d9f5

PARIS: Winerie Parisienne

Launched in 2015, Winerie made a splash with its Eiffel Tower pop-up in 2019. The major winery is in the jap suburb of Montreuil. Last 12 months it launched its first classic produced from its personal vines, close to Versailles. La Winerie XP Red 2019, €18,

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