The London Crew

POSTED ON 21/11/2015

Across Seagrave Road from the Atlas Pub, the fragrance of fermenting wine and new oak wafts its way into Earls Court. Unsure if London Cru was a gimmick or vanity project, I had decided to take a look. Since it normally takes half a day to get to the nearest European vineyard, it would be a change to visit a working winery on my doorstep. As it was, tasting a fementing Galician albariño made by an Aussie winemaker on a grey London day required fresh mental agility.

Gavin MoneryGavin Monery

London Cru is the brainchild of Adam Green, a business director of wine merchant Roberson. Seeing the success of craft brewing and urban wineries elsewhere, he felt that it was an opportunity to show people at first hand what went into making wine. Gavin Monery, an experienced Western Australian winemaker, came up with a business plan, which Cliff Roberson and Will Tomlinson funded.

‘The key thing with this project was to be about quality first’, said Gavin. ‘The growers we work with are among the best in their regions’. He finds the grower by word of mouth and maintains regular contact. Shortly before harvest, he commissions his own refrigerated trucks, going over to supervise the journey from hand-harvesting to London.

London CruLondon Cru

The proof is in the tasting. The 2014 Sandhurst Vineyards Bacchus from Kent was aromatic with elderflower and a mouthwateringly crisp aftertaste, the chardonnay from the Roussillon surprisingly white Burgundy-like with a smoky touch and peachy fruit. The Italian red, an Alba barbera, had the grape’s requisite vivid damson plum fruit with lovely texture.

Two reds from Calatayud in Spain followed, a juicy, blackberryish, smooth-textured grenache and a richly concentrated, peppery, spicy syrah. A smoothly blackcurranty Languedoc cabernet tinged with herb brought up the rear. I was also impressed with The Spirit of London, £16, a vibrant mulberry / raspberryish blend specially commissioned for Marks & Spencer. The downside is that red Eurocratic tape prevents London Cru from putting vintage or grape variety on the label, but they’re working on it.

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A Nose for WineA Nose for Wine

Something For the Weekend 21 November 2015

Night In

2013 Les Jamelles Reserve Mourvèdre.

Catherine Delaunay’s Jamelles brand from the South of France often throws up a bargain, and this fresh, spicy red with its juicy blackberry fruitiness and fine-tuned, savoury aftertaste fits that bill perfectly. £6.49, down from £7.49, to Tuesday, The Co-op.

Dinner Party

2014 Santa Julia Reserve Uco Valley Malbec

Familia Zuccardi has invested heavily in Argentina’s Uco Valley to good effect, and the fragrant aromatics and opulent dark cherry and plum flavours of this succulent high Andes malbec are proof of the pudding. £10, Sainsbury’s.

Splash Out

2013 Te Mata Awatea Cabernet Merlot, Hawkes Bay

Awatea is a super-fragrant, vibrant Bordeaux blend, whose intense cassis fruitiness is leavened with herb and mint; no shame in drinking this stylish baby now, though with grip and freshness, will age beautifully. £30, Marks & Spencer.

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