The fact that Roast’s best selling white is English explains a great deal about our approach to wine. Made from a grape variety called Bacchus which creates crisp, citrus- and elderflower-scented wines not unlike a Sauvignon Blanc, the appeal is obvious – but it seemed a brave decision at the time putting our name on an English wine.
Grapes have been grown across the southern half of the United Kingdom since Roman times but it’s in the last 20 years that the English wine industry has really come on in leaps and bounds. There are now some 400 wineries dotted over the south of the country from Cornwall to Kent though there are vineyards as far north as Leeds and Lancashire.
But the big success story has been sparkling wine. The soil and climate in the south of England is very similar to that of the Champagne region in northern France so growers have by and large planted the same varieties – Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay that have had such success there.
The results have been impressive. For sceptics who doubt that English sparkling wine can reach the heights of its French counterpart, we made a video which showed that our customers marginally preferred our own Roast Chapter Two made for the restaurant by the Kent-based Chapel Down to Champagne when they tasted it blind!
The style of English whites has changed too. Where the market was once dominated by dull-isle medium-dry whites made from obscure German grape varieties, winemakers have turned to more fashionable crisp dry styles but still with appealingly low levels of alcohol. We even – goodness knows how in this weather – make appealingly soft fruity reds. The Union red we list in the restaurant is again a product of the enterprising Chapel Down with whom we have a long-standing relationship.
This locavore’ approach to wine fits in with our philosophy of sourcing British ingredients, entirely appropriate for a restaurant situated inside London’s most famous food market. The list, which has picked up an AA ‘notable wine list’ award, changes from season to season. In the Spring and Summer the focus is more on whites and lighter reds, in the Autumn and Winter, more on heartier ones.
It is not just British wines that are featured, however. The 411 bins are divided by grape variety and country, encompassing so called ‘New World’ wine producing countries such as Australia, California., New Zealand and South Africa as well as the classic wine producing areas of Europe. You can drink Croatian chardonnay as well as white Burgundy, for instance (a tip – always worth going for the lesser known wines on a restaurant list. They’ll be there on the grounds of exceptional quality not just their famous name) or Vidal ice wine from Canada as an alternative to Sauternes.
Surprisingly it’s not Cabernet or Pinot Noir but the lesser known Malbec grape that has been the most popular red, especially since we launched our own-label Malbec which is made by the Argentinian winery Ruca Malen. Well, maybe not so surprising, given its generous, full-bodied character which fits in with all kinds of meat dishes. (Another tip – rare meat tames tannins which is why full-bodied reds are so good with beef and lamb). So enthusiastic has the Malbec following become that we celebrated a Malbec Week in Spring 2013 including a dinner attended by the Argentinian ambassador.
Italy has been another great passion of mine and the Roast wine-buying team. The restaurant stocks a wide range of food-friendly Italian whites as well as great Italian reds such as Brunello and Barbaresco and always-in-demand Supertuscans. There’s also a selection of biodynamic wines made from vines cultivated without chemicals, treated with special composts and pruned awl harvested following the phases of the moon . A supercharged system of organic farming’ as I describe it on the list. Sounds crazy but it works!
Please click here to see the full wine list
Please note that Üllo Wine Purifier is available on request (see below) .
”All wine contains sulfites, which are artificial preservatives added during production. They are no longer needed once the bottle is opened.
Proprietary polymer technology filters away free sulfites and their bitter taste, while allowing other compounds in wine to flow through unaffected.
Through Selective Sulfite Capture™, free sulfites are reduced to a more naturally occurring level for most wines.”
Back in 2007 we shared a “Eureka” moment with Chapel Down. At the time one of our signature dishes was Pork Belly. It was cooked and we wondered if it would be possible to blend a wine that would match perfectly with this best-selling dish. Very early on in the project we released that in fact it would be the apple sauce accompaniment that would be the real challenge. The team came up trumps by blending 4 tanks of Bacchus (a grape very similar in style to Sauvignon Blanc) The grapes had been sourced from specific vineyards all of which have individual characteristics coming from the terrior. It was so well received that it very soon became one of the top sellers on the wine list. Over the years as vintages change we have continued to work on this blend and it remains on the list today as popular as ever.
Roast Bacchus Reserve is a still white made from Bacchus white grape, which is a cross between Silvaner x Riesling and Muller Thurgau. This grape grows very well in several vienyards in England as a result of the colder climate in the region which allows the grape to retain its high acidity. It is pale yellow in colour with aromas of elderflower. On the palate this wine is extremely refreshing with tropical notes and a persistent, long finish.
The Roast Malbec celebrates the diversity of the Argentinean terroirs and the quality of the Malbec grape and has been created to the enjoyed with our most popular meat dishes, It is produced exclusively for Roast by the Ruca Malen Winery in Mendoza, Argentina. The winemaker Pablo Cuneo is the mastermind behind this great creation and comes to visit twice a year to hold a masterclass for our staff.
Deep ruby in colour, this wine displays dark fruit aromas with hints of tobacco, coffee and cinnamon. On the palate it is silky and the tannins are grippy but smooth and ripe. It is rich, complex and long lasting
Chapter Two is a sparkling wine made from the same grape varieties as Champagne, Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier and Chardonnay – using the traditional method of production. The current vintage is 2010. It holds a beautiful lemon yellow colour, with aromas of brioche and a citrusy, refreshing note on the palate with a long finish.
Roast Blanc des Blancs is a sparkling wine made from 100% Chardonnay grape, produced for our 10 year anniversary. It is pale yellow in colour and has notes of baked apple and stone fruit on the nose with a creamy texture on the palate. It is perfect for a special occasion.
Sergei joined us in 2005 after making his name at our founder’s first restaurant, The Cinnamon Club. Before that he started his restaurant career as an Assistant Restaurant Manager in the City after moving to London from his native Russia in 1996. From the very beginning, Sergei worked closely with our founder, Iqbal, to bring his plans for Roast to life and was subsequently awarded the Princeton Global Network Honours, which is given to distinguished individuals who have demonstrated a commitment to excellence in their careers and exemplary leadership within their communities.
A talented connoisseur of wine with a gift for picking the very best vintages every time, it’s thanks to Sergei that Roast has featured in the AA Notable Wine List since 2007. He’s also driven the creation of Roast’s own range of branded wines and spirits, from our Bacchus Reserve to our brand new second edition gin.
Sajmir made his move from Albania to the UK in 1998 at the tender age of 17.
His career in hospitality began when he decided to work at a restaurant in order to improve his English. After having gained some experience and developed a passion for the industry, he started working at The Cinnamon Club in 2002 as a runner and quickly worked his way up to Waiter and subsequently Head Waiter. In 2007 he joined the team at Roast and developed a passion for wines while he was working in the cellar assisting the wine team. He then decided to take a wine course and has been a Sommelier at Roast ever since. In his spare time, Sajmir enjoys playing football and snooker, as well as visiting his favourite vineyards in the UK including Chapel Down and Hush Heath in Kent and Nyetimber in Sussex.