Cultivating followers in Paris bistros and London’s alt bottle shops for a couple of decades, natural wine has finally taken root in the South West.
Low-intervention bottles are appearing on menus at neighbourhood restaurants and vying for shelf space at indie retailers. Kathryn Lewis uncovered some of the South West’s natty hot spots
Serving single origin coffee by day and low-intervention wine by night, Lovetts is the kind of place you wish was at the end of your street. Wines change daily and are chalked up on the board – there are usually six to eight bottles open to sample by the glass, with a mix of red, white, orange and rosé, depending on the season.
Exploding Bakery, Exeter
The weekend starts on Thursday evening at Exeter’s favourite bakery (pictured). Pouring natty wine by the glass, and with a good selection of funkier numbers by the bottle, Exploding Nights’ (from Thursday to Saturday) residency set-up sees a different chef taking charge of the menu every couple of months.
The first eatery outside of London from the team behind Westerns Laundry, Fitzroy opened on the banks of the River Fowey in June 2019. Small plates of lip-smackingly fresh and local food are accompanied by a small but jazzy selection of natural wines.
With big boots to fill, Marmo (based in the former Bar Buvette building on Baldwin Street) was this summer’s hotly anticipated Bristol opening. The contemporary Italian restaurant and wine bar centres around sharing-style dishes complemented by a huge selection of low-intervention bottles, with many available by the glass.
Robin Wylde, Lyme Regis
A series of creative dishes are paired with an intriguing line-up of local beers, ciders and natural wines at this Lyme Regis pop-up. Founder Harriet Mansell themes her seasonal menus around local folklore and history, with an emphasis on foraged and regional ingredients.
Wolf Wine, Bath
‘Craft wine’ is the criteria which bottles must meet to make it onto the shelves of this snug shop, so expect to find natural, organic and biodynamic finds featured in the globe-trotting collection. There are regular tasting events at the shop and a craft wine refill station.
Named after co-owner Mirjam’s Finnish background, Pullo (meaning bottle) is Exeter’s first dedicated natural wine shop. Co-owner Alex Fitton worked with Under The Bonnet Wines to supply the South West with interesting bottles before opening the shop/bar hybrid – which stocks over 100 wines – on Paris Street in October 2019.
Quality beer and cheese may be the main draw at this Whiteladies Road outpost, but visitors will also find a changing collection of low-intervention wines. Take a friend, grab a spot on the bench and order something interesting by the glass – plus a cheeseboard to share.
Old Dairy Kitchen, Axminster
Food menus at this rustic kitchen at Axminster’s Trill Farm are determined each morning by whatever hyper-local produce head chef Chris Onions can get his hands on. Open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday for lunch, the Kitchen’s monthly feast evenings see sharing-style courses matched with natural wines and craft ciders.