Sager & Wilde – a view from the bar
I never got the opportunity to go over to Sager & Wilde when they were operating as a pop up in Shoreditch last year, but when I heard that they were opening permanently I was determined to get there as soon as I possibly could. Well they opened on Thursday and we got there on Saturday… and if I lived closer I would go there every Saturday.
Sager & Wilde’s permanent residence used to be a pub and is situated on the Hackney Road. It’s by no means an easy place to get to, especially when the Northern line isn’t running which means no tubes to Old Street! But jump on the 55 bus from Oxford Circus and it will take you to the door, which is open from 5PM to 11PM Wednesday to Sunday. (Edit – you can’t trust the number 55 bus, just get the Northern line to Old Street and take the 15 walk!)
We didn’t eat from the wonderful looking and sounding selection of meats and cheese, or succumb to the saliva-inducing griddled cheese sandwich but we were mesmerised by the quality and value of the wines on offer. The list is updated each day and has the day’s date on the top – if you really enjoyed something on Saturday, there’s no guarantee it will be there when you return on Tuesday, but what can be guaranteed is quality throughout the list. On Saturday 31st August there were 3 sparklers, 10 whites, 10 red, 3 stickies as well as a couple of roses, a selection of Vermouth and a couple of beers to choose from.
And boy did we get stuck in! I started with a delightfully concentrated dry Heymann-Lowenstein Riesling from the Mosel, while The Fish went for the remarkably dry and delicate fizz of Brut Sugrue-Pierre, a new name to me for British wine. The fabulous server was able to tell me that the winemaker learnt his trade at Nyetimber before getting the investment to go it alone in Kent. We then followed that up with something classic and something new. It’s always difficult to pass on a glass of Meursault; it’s even more difficult when it comes from Comtes Lafon and from the 2007 vintage. It was fat and juicy with the honey and nuts you crave in Meursault… I missed it when it was gone! Fish went for the Getariako Txacolina Rezabal from Euskadi in the Spanish Basque region. It exploded with citrus and just a slight spritz, almost glacial in texture and I’m sure would be a great match with shellfish.
For reds I started with the Pleiades XXII by Sean Thackrey in California; made from 14 grape varieties all vinified separately for different lengths of time hence the NV on the label – light, complex and slightly awkward, but very enjoyable, Fish played a bit safer with a highly concentrated and complex Chinon. As a self proclaimed Burgundy nut, the Dujac jumped off the page and when I told this to our brilliant host she pulled a Sonoma Pinot from under the counter from a recent tasting and suggested we compare the two. The Hersch Vineyards 2011 was bright and acidic with loads of energy and a delightful finesse; the Morey St Denis 07 was just pure class with layer upon layer of red fruit, mushroom and earthiness. Absolutely fantastic.
But that wasn’t the end of the line… Not with Chateau d”Yquem smiling up at me from the list. I’ve been lucky enough to get my first taste of Cheval Blanc and DRC this year and I was not going to pass up this chance, especially at £14.50 a glass! We also ordered a Marsala that wasn’t to my taste, but I’m not really a fan of the oxidized style as I discovered at a recent Chenin tasting with Savennieres. But the Yquem was sweet, fresh, concentrated nectar. The balance of sweet fruit and acidity along with a beautifully syrupy but smooth texture was almost too mush for me to take in… I could still taste it at the end of the 30 minutes bus ride back!
Sager & Wilde has the lot. The space is magnificent, the staff are so knowledgeable and passionate and the wines are the best available by the glass in London by a country mile. I am so excited about my next visit.