Meet the Merchant - Bibendum

By Chris Losh

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Ex vat Cabernet sauvignon Chardonnay

Bibendum 113 Regents Park Road London NW1 8UR On-trade enquiries: 0207 449 4100; Fine wine...


113 Regents Park Road



On-trade enquiries: 0207 449 4100;

Fine wine enquiries: 0207 449 4056;

Founded in 1982 in a converted garage in Primrose Hill, Bibendum has grown in fewer than 25 years from selling fine wines to private customers to being the United Kingdom's largest pure wine business, with 40 agencies, more than 800 wines and supplying all channels of the trade… though it's still in the converted garage!

Talking to Ben Smith, communications director

What do you specialise in?

Our New World portfolio is particularly strong, but we also have some of Europe's most exciting wines, at all price points from entry level all the way up to fine wines costing

hundreds of pounds each.

Which are the vintages to look for/avoid?

Vintage variation is much less of an issue than it used to be. Happily, in the New World, for example Australia, even a really hot vintage such as 2001 can supply really drinkable

wines. Having said that, some standout vintages are 2000 in Bordeaux and Barolo, 1999 in the Rhône, 2002 White Burgundy,

2001 in Rioja.

Which areas/sub-regions are most exciting for you at the moment?

Spain and Italy have some really exciting areas worth exploring: Jumilla, Penedes and Montsant in Spain; Friuli, Castel del Monte in Puglia and Sicily from Italy.

What do you think is the key to a good wine list?

You need four things: "pillars", such as Chardonnay by the glass, Pinot Grigio, inexpensive Sauvignon Blanc; wines for more adventurous purchasers; a clearly defined pricing structure and prices that match the price of the food; and information on each wine so customers have something on which to base their decisions.

Which of your wines do you recommend for the Sunday roast?

Les Tourelles de Longueville 2001, Bordeaux, £14.93 ex VAT

Gigondas Domaine de Font Sane 2002,Rhone, £9.84 ex VAT

D'Arenberg d'Arrys Original Shiraz Grenache, Australia, £7.49 ex VAT

Jean Leon Cabernet Sauvignon Reserva,Penedes, Spain, £9.03 ex VAT

Anything that would go with more difficult food like, say, Thai green curry?

Green curry I would match with Knappstein Handpicked Riesling £6.04 ex VAT or Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc £6.70 ex VAT

Pick three wines off your list that every restaurant should have.

Laroche Unoaked Chardonnay - new style of Chardy from the South of France

De Loach Pinot Noir from California - great value, great tasting wine, and quite topical after the success of the movie Sideways.

Spy Valley Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand - just the killer wine for the category, amazing universal popularity in its style but with no compromise on quality.

Next trade tasting.

The Bibendum Annual Trade Tasting, with more than 500 wines to taste and 100 producers present, takes place on 23 January 2006 at 6 Burlington Gardens, London, in the annexe of the Royal Academy of Arts.

Other Bibendum events include a tasting of the Burgundy 2004 vintage at the Royal Institute of Architects, London, on 10 January 2006, and a New Zealand wine tasting at Lord's Cricket Ground, London, on 17-18 January where Huia and Spy Valley wines will be showcased.

Chris Losh's picks

Clare Valley Riesling 2004, Petaluma, Adelaide Hills

This Riesling, from the high, slatey, cooler end of the Clare Valley, is zesty, poised, tight and as refreshing as a cold shower. All crunchy lime flavours, it's a winner with fish. £8.54 +VAT

Crianza 2002, Casa de la Ermita, Jumilla, Spain

This is mostly Monastrell and Tempranillo, with 20% Cabernet, and is a swirling, spicy mix of cherries and raspberries, with an almost savoury palate. Plenty of personality. £6.68 +VAT

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Busy location on coastal main road Extensively renovated detached public house Five trade areas (100)  Sizeable refurbished 4-5 bedroom accommodation Newly created beer garden (125) Established and popular business...

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