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Friday, 10 January 2014

Compagnie Des Vins Surnaturels, Covent Garden


When I worked in the fashion biz - long before 'designer' became a dirty word - faddy colleagues at Ab Fab PR guru Lynne Franks' office on Long Acre would hit Neal's Yard for whatever Vogue decreed was the on-trend lunch du jour. Macrobiotic mung bean curry and organic spirulina and shark sperm smoothies were not my bag: back when my liver was in its still-pink prime, lunch was invariably liquid, strong and Tanqueray flavoured. Well, if you faced long afternoon photo shoots blowing smoke up the scrawny arses of Naomi, Elle and Linda wannabes with the IQ of one alfalfa sprout between them, you'd mainline martinis at noon too. I've avoided Neal's Yard ever since - immune to its Goopy Gwynnie faux hippy appeal. The arrival of Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels could reverse that aversion. "Vins surnaturels?" I'll leave aside my Toulousain pal's diatribe about the term - dismissed by the no-taureau Gascon as 'un meaningless marketing mot' , a conceit dreamt up by pretentious Parisian coqs. If there's one thing that drives me nuts about my French chums, it's their endless après-diner polemic about matters that matter not a jot to me. So, moving swiftly along....smartly kitted out in regulation Elle Decoration St Germain chic, this dishy duplex (surnaturel/ fine) wine bar is the latest Left Bank import from l'équipe that brought you hip late-night Chinatown noodle, Experimental Cocktail Club. Experimentation does not come cheap here: we're talking Puligny-Montrachet not Piat d'Or budgets, mes amis. Fortunately, sommelier Julia Oudill’s savvy pairings - e.g. crispy peppery bébé squid with a stellar Furmint Tokaji (£63), or a sublime St. Joseph (£58) with quail egg and truffled ham ‘posh’ croque - preclude expensive mistakes. Piedmont ice cider with nicely ripe'n'whiffy Époisses is an inspired match, while crumbly Comté and a 2006 Arbois vin jaune en Spois - think Alpine sherry - from the Jura scores top marks from tonight's foodie-drinkie jury.
I spend much of my working hours necking cocktails (yeh, life's a bitch) but if my own moolah is to be parted with, I invariably prefer a bottle of best Bourgogne, Barolo or Bordeaux. As Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels' gorge' list of global grapeage is guaranteed to give any oenophile a Beauner, it ain't milkshakes that'll bring this boy back to the Yard.
8 - 10 Neal’s Yard WC2H 9DP 7734 7737 http://www.cvssevendials.com