Today’s Forecast, a 99 per cent Chance of Wine
Following on from success in Battersea, James Dawson is bringing his passion for wine to the Square Mile with Humble Grape, Fleet Street
Review by Andy Barnham
After the success of the first Humble Grape Battersea wine bar a stone’s throw from Clapham Junction in London, the formula is being repeated, albeit in an expanded manner, on Fleet Street. Tucked away under the vaults of St Bride’s Church (where Rupert Murdoch and Jerry Hall were recently married), Humble Grape Fleet Street at 180 seats is much larger than its 40 seat predecessor.
Spread over 3,600 square feet, Humble Grape Fleet Street can conveniently be split into various sections (bar, middle and media respectively) offering daytime and evening corporate events including projector screen and private bar along with a private dining room at the back of the vaults. For those who like their original features, the columns which were previously hidden, have been stripped back and are on display.
The brain child of James Dawson, Humble Grape offers 30 wines available by the glass or carafe along with over 200 others available by the bottle to drink in or take away, all sourced from the vineyards directly resulting in a quality selection – though at the expense of some more well-known wine regions which aren’t currently available. By cutting out the distributor, James is able to offer extremely reasonable prices on his wines. For those who choose to stay and take the weight off their feet, expect a mark-up of 100 per cent, much less than the 200 per cent or even 300 per cent mark up often found in the industry and the more expensive the bottle at Humble Grape, the less the mark up. As James explains, this allows him to retail one of his bottles at £95 while the same bottle can be found for close to £300 at a certain London restaurant. James’ passion and excitement for wine is infectious and one of the aims of Humble Grape is to be able to sit down and share this exuberance, indeed every month Humble Grape offers dinners at both Battersea and Fleet Street with one of their wine makers with the aim of bringing wine lovers closer to the talents and skills that lie in each bottle. For those who have the time, in addition to wine tasting, Humble Grape offers a profile questionnaire, called ‘Vinotyping’ created and developed by Master of Wine Tim Hanni who, based on 25 years of his experience, has created the questionnaire to help steer visitors towards something suitable for their palate.
To accompany the wine, Humble Grape offers tapas style sharing plates of food. Stand out among these is the gazpacho soup flavoured with strawberries and croquettes with blue cheese which can be beautifully paired with a Rosé Cava made with Grenache grapes, whose subtle taste isn’t indicative of the bright colour. Larger plates include a salmon tartare with guacamole and Iberico Pork Secreto, a tender cut of pork from the shoulder of an Iberico pig, accompanied with potatoes with rosemary and red and green purées. To accompany these, look no further than a Burgundy Pinot Noir, with has a dryer mineral taste due to the clay and chalk soil.
If all of this sounds too good to be true for wine lovers, Humble Grape have also just started offering personalised dining experiences for two people, in the arch wine cellar at Fleet Street, or for groups of up to six people at a new outdoor atrium at Battersea. Guests will be able to pre- select wines, flowers and the meal along with wine tasting and the vinotyping experience should they so desire.
Enquiries: Humble Grape Fleet Street, 1 St Bride’s Passage, London EC4Y 8EJ / 0207 5830688 / www.humblegrape.co.uk/wine-bar-fleetstreet