27 Apr Pure wine & great food: 40 Maltby Street
Tell me what you eat and I’ll tell you what you are… said one of history’s most influential food writers, Brillat-Savarin, better known now as the name of a French cheese.
I’m sure the great man would have said the same about the wine we drink. However, with so many different flavourings, additives, preservatives and agents legally permitted in wine in Europe, it’s difficult to know what we’re drinking … only sulphites are required to be listed by law.
Letting the land & the grape speak
I uphold the philosophy of Gergovie Wines, who work with winemakers who eschew “chemical pesticides and fertilisers in favour of letting the land and the grape speak (sing even)”. But then how do you know who does and who doesn’t laden their wine with nasties? Answer: you have to trust the sommelier or the wine merchant.
Saying that, I’ve had my fair share of bad ‘natural’ & organic wine… enough to make me think that the most important ingredient in wine-making is passion.
Wine bar & restaurant
The day I did a Gina’s Jaunt to 40 Maltby Street wine bar & restaurant, run by Gergovie Wines, I had some pretty good wines… & don’t get me wrong, I was there to drink good wine rather than ‘natural’ wine. It just so happened that all the wine was natural.
Expect convivial rather than luxury surroundings at 40 Maltby Street … & excellent food. Its location in Gergovie Wines’ warehouse, under the Victorian arches of the train tracks coming out of London Bridge, gives it an edgy feel.
A sparkling Loire on St George’s Day
With 20 minutes before the kitchen opened at midday, I celebrated St George’s Day (my patron saint) on that 23 April with a glass of sparkling rosé from the Loire. I could have nibbled on Roast Yorkshire ham, terrine or cheese, but I decided to wait for the main courses.
The cheese is from Neal’s Yard Dairy, founded by Randolph Hodgson, father of Gergovie Wines co-owner Raef Hodgson, whose mother Anita Le Roy runs Monmouth Coffee Company. What a family! Wine, cheese & coffee!
What I ate at 40 Maltby Street
Drinking natural wine goes with eating natural food. You can’t get more natural than at 40 Maltby Street. The menu reflects the “seasonality of our island and its proximity to the continent”… love those words!
The kitchen was half the size of mine back home, & exuded a passionate & dynamic energy. I went for the Braised kid (from Yorkshire), fennel & crispy wild garlic polenta, accompanied by a very agreeable red Tuscan, Villa Pacina 2013.
Divine bread & butter
I also ordered some bread & butter: bread from the Little Bread Pedlar, also in Bermondsey, served with a brilliant-yellow butter made out of whey… so much tastier than regular butter made out of fresh milk.
Who was there
Most of the clientele were regulars, together with a handful of well-dressed, discerning Asian couples on their European travels; one of them was having a few translation problems with understanding the concept of ‘opening a tab’ – a very British affair.
As human beings, we like to cling on to happy times. At 40 Maltby Street, you can do this by buying the wine to take away.
I came out with my rucksack bulging, only just sober enough to remember to take my camera & with the knowledge that none of the wines that I’d bought had anything artificial added… not even sulphites. Even the yeast was indigenous & ‘wild’.
As far as I know it has never been proven that ‘wild’, raw, natural, organic, biodynamic wine is better, but for me it makes me feel happy, content & ‘well fed’… & wanting more. Could be dangerous, especially if I lived near Maltby Street!