The things we do for love


Photograph: Jason Lowe

Photograph: Jason Lowe

Damian Carrington, Commercial Director of our wholesale arm Fields, Morris & Verdin, reveals his passion for Burgundy – and the best restaurants in London to sample its regal charms

I am going to let you into a secret: I absolutely love wine. This may come as little surprise but since my earliest days working for a retail wine chain, I have been head over heels for the stuff. It’s not just the liquid itself but the elements of history, geography, sociology and psychology that wrap around it and make it so damn intriguing. I still find it a thrill to be talking to a winemaker in Rioja one minute and a vigneron in the Rhône the next, before finishing the day talking and tasting with an Aussie from the Barossa or McLaren Vale.

Burgundy is a particular love of mine, and you can imagine how hard it was for me to be dragged to the Côte d’Or to spend a week there meeting our producers and tasting the 2013 vintage. You may have already heard a bit about the 2013 wines but I have to say that I adored them. I will admit that we work with some of the finest winemakers in the region, but the whites have a thrilling acidity (reminiscent of 2007) yet with more weight and body to carry it. The reds, particularly from the Côte de Nuits – that missed the hail which devastated Volnay and Pommard, are fresh and elegant, with delightful concentration. ” Très Pinot” seemed to be the expression of the week, and although seeming to state the obvious it does encapsulate that feeling of sensual elegance that characterises Pinot grown on the margins of ripeness, rather than the fruit bombs from hot vintages or hot climates. The growers’ mood was also more upbeat than it has been for a while, with 2013 looking really good and a more normal-sized 2014 vintage safely gathered in with early indications suggesting good quality too.

The ironic thing about visiting Burgundy is that you don’t end up drinking much of the local wines in restaurants, as wines from ‘foreign’ climes (Champagne, Beaujolais and the Rhône for example) often represent much better value. This got me thinking about the London restaurant scene and where and when can you find good Burgundy. I’ve racked my brains and conferred with colleagues in our business to gather the following recommendations for you:

For those inclined towards the classic, check out Wiltons – established in 1742 – where you will find the delightful Olivier Merlin’s delicious Mâcon, La Roche Vineuse by the glass, in amongst a list that includes such stellar names as Louis Boillot, Grivot, Méo Camuzet, Rion, Maume and Benjamin Leroux. It is also well worth looking at the Burgundy sections of the wine lists at La Trompette, The Ledbury, Chez Bruce and The Square, where a policy of buying wines to keep and then release to the restaurants once ready to drink never fails to impress. Slightly left-field but worth looking out for is the new venture from Alan Yau (of Hakkasan fame) who will be launching Duck & Rice this month on Berwick Street, with a selection that includes the likes of the Bret Brothers, Chauvenet and Michel Bouzereau. Having eaten and drunk in all of the above recently I can heartily recommend them all. The things we do for love.

Learn more about pairing fine Burgundy to fine food with one of our events celebrating this famed French region.