It feels a little excessive to credit the Top Cuvée team with fundamentally altering London’s wine taste, but only a little. Before they came along, “shitty wine memes” was a phrase only associated with the (very funny) Instagram account of the same name; since then, they’ve exposed an entire demographic to the delights of a certain style of light, alarmingly drinkable vin de soif, most obviously epitomised in the form of Chin Chin, a vinho verde imported by Keeling Andrew Co.
Last summer, they were apparently shipping a pallet of the stuff a week to Team Cuvée – testament to a very 2020s kind of social media virality. Evidence, too, of how the populist and the well-made are not mutually exclusive: at every price point on the Cuvée spectrum, there are serious, high-quality wines to be enjoyed – and nowhere better than at the new(ish) Cave Cuvée in Bethnal Green, where the usual bangers come with a side of oysters, charcuterie, or pâté en croûte. Keep an eye open for occasional subterranean collaborations, too – if the ongoing pop-up within Yard Sale Pizza is any indication, they’ll represent one of the hottest tickets in town.
Offbeat Wines, Field Notes 1, Pinot Noir / Pinot Blanc blend (£28 retail)
The first of two selections that debunk the idea that all Top Cuvée do is smashable meme wines, this rosé from the formerly unheralded terroir of rural Wiltshire is like a mini-treatise on the delicacy and delight of the two grapes that go into it. It’s far from assertive but after a bit of time in the glass there’s a lovely, soft-edged strawberries-and-cream perfume and just enough bite to keep you coming back for another sip. Will get absolutely steamrollered by some of the saltier, meatier stuff on the menu so order accordingly – perhaps one best to enjoy by itself over the course of an hour or so, letting it tell its story in its own quiet way.
Selvadolce, Crescendo, Pigato, 2020 (£33.25 retail)
I like to think you can taste the sea in coastal wines: that burst of ozone and salinity you get when a wave breaks and the spray carries on the wind. Selvadolce’s vines grow in the shadow of the French border, a couple of miles from the Ligurian sea; its Pigato – a local dialect term for “freckled”, denoting the mottled skin that putatively differentiates it from its maybe-cousin-maybe-twin vermentino – is floral and savoury and, yes, just that little bit salty. Budget permitting, get one bottle to drink now and one to open further down the line – I had the 2016 late last summer and it was a revelation.