Part of me hates the fact that I know nothing about wine. But the other part of me simply hates wine. Not the first sip or even the first glass, but the taste and heady feeling just somehow doesn’t agree with me and my genetic make-up.
So it must have been the part of me that hates the ignorance that drove me (and I did drive actually but that was more to do with my current sugar fast) to Negozio Classica, Regent’s Park Road in Primrose Hill, last Wednesday night.
My guest, on the other hand, was delighted to join me. She is a true wine lover. First, upstairs, we tasted the wines from the Avignonesi estate as the owner’s son, Basile Aloy, talked us through how his family have impressively turned their vineyards into Italy’s largest biodynamic winery. And then, we headed back downstairs to review dinner at this Italian wine bar, restaurant and shop rolled into one.
Mike, the super friendly manager, explained to us that, unlike most other restaurants, the menu here is designed to complement the wine. And it soon transpired that wine bar is actually part owned by Basile’s family so not only are these quality wines unavailable elsewhere in the UK, the depth of knowledge of how they should be drunk is more than extensive. We shared plates of antipasto (£15.25), buffalo mozzarella, avocado and pomodori (£11.25) and raved as we feasted on the organic beef fillet tagliata (£19.50). Matured on the bone (and well hung – cue lots of giggling), the Aberdeen Angus is served with rocket salad and parmesan shavings.
My guest drank (and I sipped) incredible wines. Favourites were the Sauvignon ‘Raif’ 2011 which we thought would be perfect for a hot, summer lunch and the full-bodied Desiderio Cortona 2008 which, if I can just be technical, is 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.
As a very temporary sugar-avoider, I had to force her to have dessert for me. Grudgingly, she polished off the tortino al cioccolato which was (apparently) warm and delicious … and smelt almost irresistible. Avignonesi Occhio di Pernice 1998 (£200 a bottle) was chosen as our dessert wine. Syrupy and thick in a big, wide glass, this would have been the cherry on the cake, had I been a wine aficionado looking for a sugar rush.
But, seriously, had I learnt a little about wine? And, if wine isn’t my tipple of choice, would I bother to return to Negozio Classica? Yes – on both counts. The wine bar is a chilled and discrete hangout. The food is authentically while also offering the right balance of delicacies with Italian favourites. And, as if all that isn’t enough, my slightly swaying guest walked away having purchased a couple of bottles for another night…
Negozio Classica: Primrose Hill (154 Regents Park Road) & Notting Hill (283 Westbourne Grove).