Some may remember Le Petit Bistrot on one of Madrid’s central plazas. Well, they moved northwards near the Berlin park, one block from Santiago Bernabéu. Now they are changing the name too. Still you will see the old one in the window on Príncipe de Vergara, but during this year they will change everything to Solo de Uva.
This brings it more in line with what the restaurant, or rather: wine bar, is about. This is the temple for natural wines in Madrid, focusing on wines that are made from grapes, and nothing but the grapes, «solo de uva», nothing added, nothing taken away (as the adage of the natural wine movement goes). The wines will come along with simple, but savoury, local produce.
This was my third visit this year. I came in last Saturday afternoon (before Real Madrid vs. Valencia). The kitchen had closed, but owner Carlos Campillo put together a delicious selection of cold tapas, including a tomato creation, a paté and some unpasteurized cheeses (still French, I guess this will also change in a not too distant future).
The wine list will obviously change quite often, as all producers are small, and the wines are not made in big quantities. Many of the producers are regulars though, from the Madrid and Gredos area they include Alfredo Maestro and Vinos Ambiz, from nearby La Mancha we find Samuel Cano and Julián Ruíz Villanueva, and among the southerners are Juan Pascual Céspedes (Murcia), Bodegas Marenas (Córdoba), Cauzón and Barranco Oscuro (both Granada). There are also some northern producers, believe it or not from Asturias, and some foreigners too.
This time I had four wines by the glass, mostly chosen by Carlos: Aire de Patio 2012 (Samuel Cano, aka Vinos Patio), a rich orange wine from the airén grape, Blancas Nobles 2012 (Barranco Oscuro), a charming and expressive, powerful yet elegant wine from the highest vineyards in Europe, made from grape varieties vijiriega, along with sauvignon blanc, chardonnay and riesling, that most would claim to be more noble varieties. Straw yellow, and definitely lighter than the previous wine. Then came Patio Selección 2013, a wine that was used with a selection of cheeses at a winemakers dinner a few weeks ago, at the same place. Indeed I think that these red natural wines could be worth exploring with soft cheeses where ordinary reds normally would lose. I would believe that it has most to do with the special texture caused by the CO2 that may be left in some of these wines maybe. Anyway along with the slightly carbonic mouthfeel this wine has also very nice aromas of dark fruits, sweet morelloes, and a balsamic note. Based largely on petit verdot (85%), but with several other grapes such as syrah as well. Last came Viña Enebro Quercus Red from Bullas, Murcia. I couldn’t see any vintage on the label, but I talked to producer Juan Pascual López Céspedes the day after, who showed me there was a code on the back label. I tasted both the 2010 and ’11, and concluded that the vintage at the restaurant ought to be 2011. It’s 100% monastrell, dark in colour, with aromas of dark fruits, some plums, herbs and coffee. Less ripe/warm feeling than the former wine.
During my two visits in February I tasted among others the following four white wines: Lovamor, a rich and delicious, a bit balsamic albillo that I had together with its creator Alfredo Maestro, the Malvar (Vinos Ambiz), a wine aged in tinajas (Spanish amphorae) and with an orange, almost brown colour, and Bajo Velo Seco (Bodegas Marenas), made from the variety pedro ximénez and aged under flor, as is usual in Montilla, Córdoba and nearby Jerez de la Frontera. The bodega makes it in two versions, one semi-dry, but this was the dry one, and it is surely marked by the flor character. I found it right to round off with a French wine, and the choice fell upon Nature (Domaine Julien Meyer), a very nice Alsace wine from sylvaner and pinot blanc, made by Patrick Meyer, whom I had met in London a year before, at the RAW fair. Interestingly his cellar grows flor too, as he mostly will not top up the barrels. Then there were also some reds, some of them I have already mentioned, or will mention in a new post, where this restaurant also plays a role.