The term ‘vin naturel’ was revived in France in the 1980s to describe wines that use ‘natural’ fermentation with little intervention in the winemaking process – often with unpredictable results. Critics have described so-called ‘natural wines’ as tasting sour, farmyardy, like stale cider, or just faulty; and that there is no certification. But there are also enthusiasts who like their distinctively different character. Organic wines are different – they use no pesticides or artificial fertilisers. Biodynamic wines are different again - they are usually (though not always) organic, but incorporate mystical beliefs together with the ecological practices; many growers really do plant cow horns, stags’ bladders, and more besides.
Whatever your opinion on the rationale, there is a consensus that many biodynamic wines are of good quality, well–made, and often characterful. If you're in the market for a glass of plonk with a twist, here are the best natural wine bars in London.
Natural wine in London
The French sommelier is enthusiastic, and the excellent selection of mostly ‘natural’ wines, supplied by small producers, offers plenty of interest by the glass. The location, right in the heart of west Soho, is another plus.
Smart small-plates wine bar in Brixton with a 'natural'-oriented wine list, from a couple whose joint CV includes Trinity and Terroirs.
In a city that’s now brimming with exciting and unusual wines to try, there’s no excuse for ordering the usual. Pop down to The Remedy for some proper excitement in your glass. The wine list is almost deliberately obscure, covering lesser-known regions, grapes and style of wines. There are no big brands, no big-name Bordeaux. Instead there are oddities from the Jura, so-called ‘natural wines’ (made with minimal chemical intervention), lots of wines at the high minerality end of the scale, and bottles with labels that simply don’t translate well, such as the white Burgundy from a producer called Fanny Sabre.
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The first wine bars specialising in ‘vins naturels’ that caught the attention of the drinking public were in Paris in the 1990s; places such as Le Chapeau Melon became the toast of the city. Terroirs in London pioneered a similar approach in 2001, and soon had branches, as well as imitators. The key to this great success, however, was not so much the odd-tasting wine as its sturdy French food. Toasted is the latest in the Terroirs tradition; chef Michael Hazelwood has worked stints at a couple of its branches before taking over the former Green & Blue wine bar premises in East Dulwich.
Not a wine bar, but a wine shop in Highgate that is one of few in London with a good selection of natural and organic wines. There’s always a helpful staff member on hand to guide shoppers through the extensive range, which includes bins from both New and Old Worlds.
Find more great wine bars in London
Red, white, sparkling, dry – whatever you fancy there are plenty of bars serving great wine in the capital. It's not all about craft beer and cocktail bars, after all. From stylish wine bars to vino taverns, our critics have rounded up the best bars in London with outstanding wine lists.
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