Sipping Fine wine at Shepherd Market Wine House

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I simply cannot believe that I have never been to Shepherd Market! Oh, how I have missed out over the last couple of years. Why did no one tell me this area existed?

Shepherd Market first reminded me a little of the Quartier Latin in Paris – just maybe a little posher and les touristy. Hidden between Piccadilly and Curson Street, this small oasis in the middle of Mayfair is full of quaint pubs, independent shops and boutiques, and bijou restaurants. Walking around this part of town is pleasurable, and the architecture takes you back centuries. Shepherd Market’s past is very colourful, full of famous, infamous stories and visitors. It’s just hidden between Piccadilly and Curson Street.

And I was lucky enough to be invited for a wine tasting evening at Shepherd Market Wine House by fellow blogger and friend Suze, as well as PR extraordinaire, Tracey.

LOCATION

SHEPHERD MARKET

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Shepherd Market is set in the fancy area of Mayfair, just a brisk walk away from gritty Soho. It’s closest Tube Station is Green Park and it is easy to reach from most parts of London.

It is a rather refreshing oasis of calm and old-school refinement, sheltered from the pomp and swagger of the rest of this sometimes over-the-top neighbourhood.

The small square was developed in 1735-46 by local architect Edward Shepherd on the open ground then used for the annual May fair, from which Mayfair takes its name. It is a network of narrow streets and alleyways – a little village hidden in the heart of central London. It’s small central square and number of small side streets are filled with a variety of boutique shops, restaurants and Victorian pubs.

Like many recently developed and fashionable areas in London, Shepherd Market has a colourful past. In the 1700s it was reputed to be home to Mayfair’s scandalous ‘ladies of the night’. It was here in the 1980s that Jeffrey Archer met with a prostitute (and his attempts to deny this led to his imprisonment for perjury).

Then in the 1920s, Shepherd Market became an ultra-fashionable London address and frequented by writers like Anthony Powell.

More recently, Shepherd’s Market – once Mayfair’s red light district – has become home to some of London’s hottest restaurants, best shops, and coziest pubs while also seeming to hide some of the city’s most clandestine businesses down dark little alleys and secret squares.

In 1999, Johnny Depp reportedly paid £11, 000 for a bottle of 1978 Romanee Conti at Marco-Pierre White’s  Mirabelle restaurant (the total bill came to an eye-watering £17,000!).

The astonishing and wonderful thing is that you won’t find a lot of tourists here. In fact I could only spot fellow Londoner’s – a rare occasion to say the least. Somehow Shepherd Market has remained somewhat of a London Secret.

In fact, the longer you linger in Shepherd Market, the more you realize that this village is not just secret, but also self-contained. All of the businesses frequent one another, and there’s a pharmacy, a shoe repair shop, and a store offering postal services. In Winter Shepherd Market even has their own ceremony to switch on the village’s Christmas lights. There is a real community feeling about this place.

SHERPHERD MARKET WINE HOUSE

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Shepherd Market might be home to a number of pubs and a surprising variety of restaurants: French, Turkish, Iranian, Italian, Lebanese – but for a long time it has lacked a gathering spot for more serious wine drinkers. This has finally been rectified with the opening of Shepherd Market Wine House.

Shepherd Market Wine House started its life as a successful pop-up at the end of last year and opened its doors to local wine connoisseurs in November 2015 for six weeks.  After refurbishment, it has now open as a firm neighbourhood spot to discover and enjoy wines from around the world.

Make your way throw the traffic and tourist throng around Piccadilly and Green Park. Then head down White Horse Street and into the relative tranquillity of Shepherd Market.

From here Shepherd Market Wine House should be easy to spot. With its mustard yellow shopfront and a mouth-watering array of charcuterie on rustic wooden tables, this bar is a sight for sore eyes.

This London bar almost looks like it has been transplanted from the side-streets of Bordeaux and plonked down into Mayfair. The green awnings shelter a small number of outside tables that allow people to take an al fresco glass of wine or two.

THE INTERIOR AND ATMOSPHERE

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Shepherd Market might be home to a number of pubs and a surprising variety of restaurants: French, Turkish, Iranian, Italian, Lebanese – but for a long time it has lacked a gathering spot for more serious wine drinkers. This has finally been rectified with the opening of Shepherd Market Wine House.

Shepherd Market Wine House started its life as a successful pop-up at the end of last year and opened its doors to local wine connoisseurs in November 2015 for six weeks.  After refurbishment, it has now open as a firm neighbourhood spot to discover and enjoy wines from around the world.

Make your way throw the traffic and tourist throng around Piccadilly and Green Park. Then head down White Horse Street and into the relative tranquillity of Shepherd Market.

From here Shepherd Market Wine House should be easy to spot. With its mustard yellow shopfront and a mouth-watering array of charcuterie on rustic wooden tables, this bar is a sight for sore eyes.

This London bar almost looks like it has been transplanted from the side-streets of Bordeaux and plonked down into Mayfair. The green awnings shelter a small number of outside tables that allow people to take an al fresco glass of wine or two.

THE WINE ON OFFER AT SHEPHERD MARKET WINE HOUSE

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Shepherd Market Wine House sources an eclectic selection of wines from around the world with excellent vintages, ready for drinking immediately. While the list is compact, it is also well-thought through and is great for entry level and wine connoisseurs alike.

The bar serves up to twenty wines by the glass that generally include a couple of champagnes and sparkling wines and can be sampled in accompaniment with platters of cheese, olives, pate, terrines and charcuterie to share. The cost of wine by the glass ranges from £6 to £10, whilst bottles cost from £30-£250.

While the White wines presented as an eclectic mix, the reds were slightly more traditional featuring French and American classics.

Heading up the Shepherd Market Wine House team is super approachable manager, buyer and sommelier Ben Van de Meutter, previously Head Sommelier at Butler’s Wharf Chop House and before that, Cellar Master for a luxury cruise liner group.

Ben spoke with great passion about his love of wine and his determination to make Shepherds Market Wine House a success. His concept is a relatively simple one: he stocks a wide range of wines, but with not too many of each one. Once a wine is sold out he sources new wines to take its place. This way the wine-list is always changing and evolving. The majority of his clientele are people that live and work around the area and as such they will visit relatively regularly and will want to taste different wines. Note that all of the wines that are on the list can be bought to be taken away from the shop.

Whilst you can easily blow a few hundred quid or more on a couple of top rated bottles, I am pretty sure that anyone – whatever their budget, level (or lack) of expertise, or preference of taste – is welcome at Shepherds Market Wine House. So don’t be shy and do pop in, next time you are in the vicinity.

THE CORAVIN SYSTEM

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Some of you might be pleased to hear that Shepherd Market Winehouse operates the innovative Coravin system. This is the first time I ever heard of the Coravin System, but I must admit that I am thoroughly impressed.

This revolutionary new system enables the patrons to serve magnificent fine wines by the glass. So that customers can taste a small selection of fine and expensive wines without having to buy a full bottle. Prices for a glass of wine poured with the Coravin System range from £14 to £40/glass pending on the rare fine wine available at the time.

In the video below you can see Ben demonstrating and explaining how it works. The Coravin System injects inert Argon gas into the bottle through the cork and thereby displaces enough wine for a tasting portion.  The bottle remains sealed and can keep indefinitely.

Quite a nifty way to experience exquisite and vintage wines without breaking the bank!

OUR WINE TASTING EXPERIENCE AT  SHERPHERD MARKET WINE HOUSE

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So what Wines did we taste? We tried a number of offerings and were mightily impressed with them all. Thankfully, but rather surprisingly, I did not wake up to a hangover the next day.

The evening started off well, with a glass NV Lallier Grande Reserve Grand Cru (£10.50/glass, £65.00/bottle) which was very elegant with fine bubbles and a bright acidity. This was not a particularly “toasty” champagne, but one characterised by its brightness and tart fruit.

This was then followed by a glass of 2014 Château Panchille, Bordeaux Blanc (£28.00/bottle).  Ben certainly knows what he is doing. After a mumbled description of my preference from my part, he returned with this perfect white wine for a spring evening.

Next up we tried one of Shepherd Market Winehouse’s by-the-glass reds, a 2013 Chorey- Les-Beaune (Burgundy, France; £11.00/glass, £42.00/bottle) which was a thoroughly decent Burgundian.

And because it would have been rude to leave without seeing the Coravin System in action, we finished with a flourish, sipping a glass of Pouilly-Fumé, Domaine Cailbourdin, Boisfleury  (£38.00/bottle) .

NIBBLES AND SNACKS

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As all good wine bars should, Shepherd Market Wine House serves a small selection of charcuterie style nibbles to accompany their fine wines. Although the selection of food on the menu is relatively limited, there’s plenty to keep your evening going.

We were served a lovely tasting platter. On the Cheese front the platter comprised a super-creamy goat cheese, a Comté and a special French cheese called Pont-l’Évêque. We were also offered two delicious types of salami (one which contained fragments of truffle), as well as a beautiful portion of thinly-sliced smoked duck breast – that, at least for me, stole the show. Finally the tasting platter was garnished with green olives, grapes, pickles and bread. Simply divine! Both the cheese and charcuterie were the perfect accompaniment to the beautiful wines we tasted that evening.

Alternatively you could opt for a £10 lunch deal, that pairs a hot sandwich with the perfect glass of wine. So very French indeed!

WHY YOU MUST VISIT SHEPHERD MARKET WINE HOUSE

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I simply cannot think of a better places to head on a Friday evening. Head to Shepherd Market Winehouse if you are looking for somewhere to spend a couple of hours among friends,  trying a variety of wines by the glass and nibbling on one of their platters. If you aren’t in a talkative mood, you can watch the world go by through the huge windows.

While Ben, the sommelier and manager, is obviously very knowledgeable, he strikes just the right note between being knowledgeable yet not in any way intimidating or condescending. If like me you are relatively new to the world of wine tasting, you can describe the style of wine you like and Ben will recommend something within your taste and budget that will gently expand your vinous horizons.

Many thanks to Ben and the team for looking after us so well. I certainly plan on returning! Shepherd Market Wine House might even become one of my favourite hangouts with family and friends.

Shepherd Market Wine House

21 – 23 Shepherd Market

W1J 7PN

http://www.shepherdmarketwinehouse.co.uk/

Open: 11h00 – 23h00 Monday to Saturday, Sunday open in the afternoon only

Shepherd Market Wine House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Disclaimer: I attended as a guest of Shepherd Market Wine House, nonetheless the opinions contained within this article are my own and were not in any way influenced by the hospitality.

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4 Comments

  1. Suze - Luxury Columnist
    May 20, 2016 / 10:53 am

    What a fabulous write up, you really did our evening justice!

    • BeautifullyTravelled
      May 25, 2016 / 8:21 am

      Thank you Suze! And thank you again for inviting me along. We had such a lovely evening.

  2. May 18, 2016 / 6:38 pm

    Wow theres sooo many places in London I have never heard about before! This looks like such a cute way to spend a summer evening!

    • BeautifullyTravelled
      May 25, 2016 / 8:24 am

      I’d say it’s perfect for a summer evening. You’re absolutely right. This was my first time in the area too.

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