The Modern Pantry Own-Label Wines
To The Modern Pantry in London’s Clerkenwell where owner, the chef Anna Hansen, has introduced two own-label wines.
Unsurprisingly, for a restaurant with New Zealand roots, the wines are a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc and a Pinot Noir.
What is surprising, to me at least, is that these aren’t the house wines.
Before going, I’d made the assumption that these own-branded wines would be solid examples of the two Kiwi classics, that would give the restaurant good margins and customers the confidence in choosing the cheapest wine on the list, and not feeling stupid. A restaurant with a reputation like The Modern Pantry isn’t going to serve rubbish, is it?
But there the two wines were, jostling for attention, along with some seriously fabulous wines by the bottle, at £34 for the Sauvignon Blanc 2013 (not the least expensive Savvy B on the list) and the Pinot Noir 2013 at £39. They were also available by the glass, and I imagine this is where they really return the value to the restaurant’s investment.
Unlike supermarkets, though, where own label usually means cheaper, some restaurants are choosing to create bespoke wines believing they will reflect the quality of food they offer (see Imbibe “Suits You Sir”). And The Modern Pantry is no exception, wanting “wines that we would be proud to put our name to and it was not a consideration that they should be the least expensive wines on the list”.
The wines have been produced by Marlborough Single Vineyards and the more impressive of the two for me was the Sauvignon Blanc. Yes, I know. Not being the biggest lover of this shouty style of Sauvignon, I liked the more measured flavours of lime and grass in with the gooseberry. I noticed the bottle had a date scrawled on the side, suggesting it had been open for a day or so. If so, it was still in good shape.
The Pinot Noir delivered just what I expected from Marlborough, smelling of a bunch of red roses plucked from wet soil with a smooth texture in the mouth and lots of red berry flavours. Nice, decent, well made.
Would I choose them above other wines on the list? If I were with a group of people, say in one of the private dining rooms, yes. They’re wines that will please almost everyone.
Left to my own devices though, and with a wine list full of other goodies, I was thrilled to find Domaine Huet’s Le Haut Lieu Demi Sec Vouvray 2008 by the carafe. It cost me a lot more than the own-label wines would have, but was perfect with the fusion-style food.
The wines are also available to purchase online from The Modern Pantry website. The pretty labels would make them perfect wedding wines.
We paid for cocktails and the Domaine Huet wine. We were not charged for the samples of wine and the food we ordered.
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