Late last year on this blog I waxed on at great length about a spectacular evening my husband and I enjoyed at Texture to celebrate our wedding anniversary. To my joy, a few months ago I was intrigued to hear that the team behind it was opening another restaurant, focusing even more so on wine. It sounded so exciting.
Last week I finally got the chance to experience this new venture (just off Fleet Street – see above) when I met two old wine trade friends for lunch. We had studied for the Master of Wine together (some rather more successfully than others!) and were particularly keen to take a close look at the wine list. As we had a lot of catching up to do and not a great deal of time, we played it safe by restricting our choices. We started off with Tyrrell's Vat 1 Hunter Semillon 2002 which was a mouthwateringly pithy match for the decadently rich duck rillettes. At £5 for a 75ml glass, this is a bargain for such a complex rarity.
For something to accompany our main course – we were all tempted by the onglet steak – we turned to the 'Collectors List' and the Hermitage 2000 from Domaine du Colombier, another bargain at £45. This wasn't a great year in the Northern Rhône and the wine was, perhaps, just beginning to dry out, but it had enough verve and sleek structure to work beautifully with the steak. Alternatively, we could have had Château Phélan-Ségur 1999 for £59 or Grivot's Clos de Vougeot 1999 for £85. It's a treat to enjoy mature, complex wines in a restaurant at such comparatively affordable prices.
Co-owner, Xavier Rousset has developed relationships with several individual wine collectors and is able to sell mature bottles on their behalf at 28°-50° at reduced margins. It works well all round – we get to taste otherwise unavailable wines and they make space in their cellars for newer vintages. Furthermore, even for the standard wine list, Rousset's margins are small. According to Nicholas Lander in a recent piece in the Financial Times, Rousset works on an overall gross profit of 35 percent which is half the industry norm. At time when alcohol sales are falling, this could be an effective business model.
I can't wait to return and taste more of the treasures on offer and explore the menu more thoroughly. At the risk of being a bit over-the-top, 28°-50° is a great gift to wine lovers. (If you're wondering what the cryptic-sounding name refers to, it describes the latitudes between which grapevines grow most successfully.)
28°-50° Wine Workshop and Kitchen
140 Fetter Lane,
London EC4A 1BT
Tel 020 7242 8877