Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Winemakers to watch (part III)

The third and final instalment of my round up of 30 hot shot winemakers to watch under 40, originally published in The Drinks Business magazine.

21: Nick Picone (35)

In 2012, Nick Picone scooped The Wine Society Young Winemaker of the Year award, becoming the first New Zealander to be honoured with the title. Completing his first vintage at Esk Valley Estate in Hawkes Bay aged just 18, Picone became Villa Maria’s youngest assistant winemaker when he joined the Marlborough-based estate aged 24, after completing a two-year BA in wine science and working vintages in California and Italy. Promoted to winemaker in 2004, two years later, Picone moved to Auckland, becoming senior winemaker in 2008 in charge of Villa Maria’s North Island production primarily from Hawkes Bay and Gisborne. Aside from playing the guitar, Picone’s two great passions are Chardonnay and Gimblett Gravels reds. 

32: Dario Pieropan (35)

A fourth generation of the Pieropan dynasty, Dario is responsible for winemaking at his family’s 35-hectare estate in Soave where wine has been made since the 1860s. Alongside his agronomist brother Andrea, Dario is keen to push the boundaries at Pieropan and has pioneered the production of a duo of red wines from his family estate in Valpolicella, bought by his father Nino in 1999. From eight hectares of vines, Pieropan makes Ruberpan Valpolicella Superiore and Vigna Garzon Amarone. In addition, he oversees the production of the estate’s famed whites crafted from Garganega, including two single vineyard examples – Calvarino and La Rocca. Before he joined the family firm, Pieropan gained experience by chalking up stints with Fontodi in Chianti Classico and Silvio Jermann in Friuli. 

23: Louisa Rose (38)

One of Australia’s leading winemakers, Melbourne-born Rose joined Yalumba in 1993, becoming chief winemaker in 2006. Involving herself in every aspect of winemaking and cellar management, during her tenure, Rose has pioneered the Viognier variety at Yalumba, resulting in the creation of The Virgilius Viognier, which has helped put quality Australian Viognier on the map. “I’m passionate about The Virgilius becoming one of Australia’s flagship whites and am looking to get it into the Langton’s Classification, but in order for it to do so, it has to be able to prove that it can age,” says Rose, who makes a number of different styles, from entry level and organic, to an Eden Valley example. Known for her flair and painstaking attention to detail, Rose has also been instrumental in the development of Riesling at Yalumba.

24: Luke Skeer (33)

Coonawarra-born Skeer always wanted to get his hands dirty and worked his first vintage while still a schoolboy in 1996. Hitting the books, Skeer studied oenology at Adelaide University before completing vintages everywhere from Bordeaux to the Barossa Valley. Having returned home, he is currently winemaker at Wynns Coonawarra and scooped The Wine Society Young Winemaker of the Year last year. “Wine is all about the purity and expression of a region, variety, vineyard and vintage,” says Skeer, who is passionate about sourcing the best parcels across Coonawarra’s renowned terra rossa soils for the estate’s signature Cabernets. 

25: Charly Thévenet (30)

One of a number of rising stars in Beaujolais, Thévenet keeps things simple at his estate, producing just one wine – a 100% Gamay from three hectares of 80- year-old vines in Régnié. The resulting Grain & Granite, which is aged for four years in old Burgundian barriques then bottled unfiltered, caught the eye of American wine author and importer Kermit Lynch, who snapped it up for the US market. The son of famous “Gang of Four” Morgon producer Jean-Paul Thévenet, Charly, who worked a harvest with Piedmont producer Luigi Pira before a stint with the late “Pope of natural wine” Marcel Lapierre in Morgon, chose Régnié as his canvas because he believes the lesser- known, terroir-driven cru has tremendous potential. “I wanted to do something different and put Régnié on the map.”
Louisa Rose

Photo courtesy of Tom Anderson

26: Morgan Twain-Peterson (33)

With self-styled “Zinphomaniac” Joel Peterson for a father and role model, it’s easy to see why Morgan Twain-Peterson chose a path in wine. Raised at Peterson senior’s Ravenswood winery in Sonoma, Morgan developed a fascination for wine at a young age. Legend has it that at the age of five he was already able to distinguish between a Merlot and a Zinfandel. After a brief stint as a wine buyer, travels took him to Hardys in the McLaren Vale and Lynch-Bages in Pauillac. 

Returning to the US fired up with enthusiasm and knowledge, Peterson founded Bedrock Wine Co. in 2007 in a former chicken coop with the aim of spreading the gospel of Californian Syrah by sourcing fruit from top terroirs in the North Coast. In addition to Syrah, Peterson makes Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, rosé and Sauvignon-Semillon blends inspired by the whites of the Graves. He is just a dissertation away from being crowned a Master of Wine. 

27: Rafael Urrejola (39)

Just squeezing onto our list, 39-year-old Urrejola joined Chilean estate Undurraga in 2007 and went on to blaze a trail with his T.H. (Terroir Hunter) series that aims to shine a light on Chile’s diverse terroirs. Promoted to winemaking manager last year, before Undurraga, Urrejola started out at Viña Leyda, where he crafted wines from Pinot Noir, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Chile’s flagship red grape, Carmenère. With stints at Saintsbury in Carneros, Paul Ginglinger in Alsace, Domaine Jacques Prieur in Meursault and, closer to home, Montes in Chile under his belt, for his T.H. series Urrejola selects the individual lots in each vineyard that he believes have the most interesting and expressive soils. 

28: Giuseppe Vajra (26)

At just 26, baby-faced Giuseppe Vajra is keen to follow in his father Aldo’s footsteps at their family estate, GD Vajra in Barolo, named after Vajra junior’s grandfather, Giuseppe Domenico. Having recently graduated with a degree in oenology from the University of Turin, Vajra works full- time as a winemaker for his family business alongside his father, with the pair sharing the philosophy that wine is the ultimate unifier. At the 40-hectate estate, which includes 10 hectares of Nebbiolo, Vajra is learning from his father how to hone the signature GD Vajra style of Barolo that displays bright fruit, defined perfume and elegance achieved by striking the right balance between extended barrel ageing and a judicious use of oak.

29: Tamra Washington (34)

Following a stint as a flying winemaker overseeing production from the Veneto for supermarket Sainsbury’s, Marlborough- born Washington has chosen to make a base in the South Island at the green- focused Yealands Estate in Blenheim where she is winemaker. Wine is in Washington’s blood – she spent school holidays working in vineyards, which gave her a thirst for the industry. Graduating with an oenology degree from the University of Lincoln, Washington’s first post was at Seresin Estate in Marlborough, followed by a stint at Franciscan Estate in Napa and time in the Hunter Valley and Margaret River, where she enjoyed getting her hands dirty in the vineyard. The lure of Italy followed, leading to a post as head winemaker for the Calatrasi Group, which involved making wine in Sicily, Puglia and Tunisia.

30: Sebastian Zuccardi (33)

The bright, blue-eyed, eldest son of José Alberto Zuccardi, director of Familia Zuccardi, was put in charge of winemaking across his family estate’s entire range last year. Based in Mendoza, from a young age Sebastian showed signs of sharing his father’s passion for wine. Going on to graduate with a degree in agronomy, Italy and California, in 2000 Zuccardi founded his own sparkling wine project with friends called Alma Cuatro that aimed to push the envelope through experimenting with grape varieties not traditionally planted in Argentina.

Back at his family estate, Zuccardi is involved with the production of a traditional method blanc de blancs sparkling wine, and is passionate capable of producing world class,  fizz, albeit in small quantities. He is also convinced of Bonarda’s potential in Argentina.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Winemakers to watch (part II)

The second instalment of my round up of 30 winemakers under 40 to keep an eye on, originally published in The Drinks Business magazine.

11: Ryan Harms (37)

Ryan Harms caused a storm in a wine glass last November when he released his Oregon-grown Underwood Pinot Noir in a 12-ounce can to try and encourage the “beerification” of wine among consumers. “We wanted to launch a product that embodied our philosophy of making great craft wine minus the fuss. These wines are more about immediacy and the can is an extension of that thinking,” says Harms. The 37-year-old launched the Union Wine Company in 2005 after clocking up several years experience at wineries in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, including six years at Hawks View Cellars. He is adamant to prove that Oregon wine need not always be expensive and has made it his mission to craft quality Oregon Pinot at an affordable price point.

12: Craig Hawkins (31)

Envelope-pushing enfant terrible Craig Hawkins, chief winemaker of organic Swartland estate Lammershoek, also makes natural wines under his own Testalonga label, founded in 2008, including El Bandito old bush vine Chenin Blanc. Inspired by the skin contact wines of Friuli and Slovenia, the wine spends six weeks on its skins before being aged in French oak for two years, while his zero sulphur Cortez Chenin Blanc spends two years on its lees. 

Hawkins’ ultimate goal is to work biodynamically. “I’m an idealist, so I‘m drawn to the purity of natural wine,” he says. Before Lammershoek, Hawkins spent four years working for the Swartland’s spiritual leader, Eben Sadie, and travelling around Europe working harvests at Sadie’s Priorat property Dits del Terra. He also has a side project making Blaufränkisch for Dirk Niepoort’s Austrian venture, Muhr-van der Niepoort. “I like to challenge people’s ideas of what they believe wine should be,” he says. 

13: Johann Henschke (30)

A sixth generation member of one of Australia’s most prestigious wine dynasties, the Henschke family, 30-year- old Johann graduated with a degree in oenology from the University of Adelaide in 2005. He cut his winemaking teeth through stints at Leeuwin Estate in Margaret River, Felton Road in Central Otago, Isole e Olena in Tuscany and Arietta in the Napa Valley before returning to the Barossa Valley last year to work for the family business. Henschke is currently focusing his attention on the estate’s cool climate, steep-sloped vineyard at Lenswood in the Adelaide Hills. He is also co-chair of the Grüner Veltliner Group in the Adelaide Hills, dedicated to promoting the production of the aromatic white variety in the region. Organic and biodynamic practices in the vineyard are also high on his agenda. 

14: Charlie Holland (37)

One of English sparkling wine’s brightest stars, Charlie Holland recently swapped he South Downs in Sussex for Kent, having taking up the role of winemaker at Gusbourne Estate after a four-year stint as winemaker at Ridgeview. A Plumpton College graduate, Holland’s first job in wine was as a cellar hand at Tattachilla Winery in the McLaren Vale, which inspired him to ditch his career as a civil servant and pursue winemaking full- time. Working harvests in France, California, Germany and New Zealand, Holland returned to Blighty in 2009 determined to make quality English sparkling wine. During his time at Ridgeview, Holland helped to put quality English fizz firmly on the wine map. Having moved to Gusbourne, Holland intends to make the estate’s first home produced vintage this coming year, which has, until now, been produced down the road at Ridgeview.

15: Jesse Katz (29)

Not only was Jesse Katz the youngest ever hired head winemaker in the US when he joined Lancaster Estate in 2010, he also counts singer-turned-actor Justin Timberlake among his friends, helping the curly- haired crooner craft a wine for his wedding to actress Jessica Biel last year. To celebrate the nuptials in southern Italy, Katz created Blue Ocean Floor 2009, a red blend from Sonoma County. 

Katz has opted to work exclusively with Bordeaux varieties at Lancaster Estate in California's Alexander Valley, and, over the last four years, has received 90+ Parker points for every wine that he's made. He developed a passion for wine at an early age while travelling around some of the world’s key wine regions with his photographer father. Graduating with a degree in oenology, before joining the winemaking team at Screaming Eagle, Katz learnt the tricks of the trade in Argentina under the guidance of Paul Hobbs and Hans Vinding-Diers.

16: Kristy Melton (33)

A self-styled science geek with a degree in animal science, Melton swapped beakers for barrels after a family trip to the Napa Valley opened her eyes to the world of wine. Enrolling at the prestigious UC Davis in California, she graduated with an oenology degree in 2007, joining Clos du Val as assistant winemaker three years later after a placement at Seresin Estate in Marlborough and a stint at Saintsbury in Carneros making Pinot Noir, Chardonnay and Syrah. In just two years, Melton worked her way up to the role of winemaker at Clos du Val, making history as the estate’s first female winemaker. Using modern techniques, Melton makes wines across the entire Clos du Val range, from entry level to small lot offerings. 

17: Patrick Moellendorff (25)

Rarely seen without his beloved Great Dane, Muecke, at just 25, Moellendorf is the youngest entrant in our line-up, having recently been appointed winemaker at Ernie Loosen’s Villa Wolf estate in Pfalz. In charge of directing the style and production across the Villa Wolf Range, Moellendorf’s passion for wine and nature began at a young age during summers in his grandfather’s garden. Starting young, he moved from his hometown of Berlin to the Mosel aged 16 to work as Loosen’s apprentice in Bernkastel where he worked in both the vineyard and winery, spending eight years honing his skills. At Villa Wolf, Loosen has deferred all decision making to Moellendorf, who takes a hands-on approach at the winery, overseeing every part of the process from destemming to barrel ageing.

18: Aurelio Montes del Campo (37) 

The son of Chilean wine pioneer Aurelio Montes, Aurelio Montes del Campo was destined for a life in wine. Graduating with a degree in oenology from the Catholic University of Chile, Montes clocked up winemaking stints at Rosemount Estate in the Hunter Valley, Cape Mentelle in Margaret River and Franciscan Estate in Napa before returning home to Chile to join Viña Ventisquero, where he learned the ropes before joining the family firm in 2007 as chief winemaker at the Apalta winery, where flagship wine Montes Alpha is made. Four years later, Montes hopped across the Andes to Mendoza to take the helm at Montes senior’s Argentina estate, Kaiken, where he works across the entire range, paying special attention to the production of traditional method sparkling wines and the development of biodynamic practices.

19: Arnaud Mortet (32)

Taking the reins at his 10-hectare family domaine in 2006 after the untimely death of his father at just 51, Mortet is responsible for winemaking at Domaine Denis Mortet in Gevrey Chambertin, founded by his father in the early ‘90s and now spanning 14 appellations, including Clos-de-Vougeot and Chambertin. At the time of his death, Denis was already leaning towards making a more gently extracted style of Burgundy, and Arnaud seems to have wholeheartedly embraced this philosophy, moving closer to the wines of his great-uncle, Charles Rousseau, that display minerality and elegance without forfeiting his father’s signature palate weight and opulence. One of Mortet’s most ambitious aims at the domaine is to produce a high quality white Gevrey Chambertin made from small parcels of Chardonnay grown in chalky parcels in Daix, north-west of Dijon. 

20: Ricardo Perez Palacios (38)

Boasting an abundant crop of black ringlets and signature black-framed specs, Ricardo Pérez Palacios doesn’t look like your average winemaker. The 37-year-old nephew of Spanish wine pioneer Alvaro Palacios is currently in charge of winemaking at Descendientes de J. Palacios in Bierzo, where he has been instrumental in putting the northwestern Spanish region on the world wine map. Having gained valuable experience through work placements in France at Château Margaux, Château Palmer and Jean Pierre Moueix, along with time in Chile and the US, Palacios returned home to Spain to work under Alvaro’s wing. He is responsible for a trio of wines at the estate: Corrulón, Pétalos and Las Lamas. Recently, under Alvaro’s tutelage, Palacios crafted a £500 a bottle single vineyard Mencía called La Faraona 2011, which is made from a 0.5- hectare plot of old vines on steep slopes that serves as the grape’s ultimate expression. 

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Winemakers to watch (part 1)

While often associated with old men in red trousers, the wine trade is fizzing with young talent. So much so, I felt compelled to celebrate the fact in a piece published recently by The Drinks Business that rounded up 30 of the brightest winemakers under the age of 40 currently making waves around the world, from Argentina to New Zealand. 

As you might expect, the lion’s share of the list are currently crafting wines in the New World, with the US, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand all well represented. France, unsurprisingly, dominates the Old World entries in the list, with rising stars in Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy, the Rhône and Beaujolais all receiving hat tips, though bright young things in Spain, Italy, Germany and the UK are also helping to shape winemaking trends and push the envelope in their respective countries. Read on for the first of three instalments rounding up numbers one to ten. 

1: Chris & Suzaan Alheit (32 and 31)

Affable husband and wife duo Chris and Suzaan Alheit work with traditional Cape varieties to make authentic Cape whites. They’re passionate about old vines, preferring to let the terroir talk by keeping cellar work simple. Having worked harvests together in California’s Napa Valley, St Emilion, the Clare Valley and the Mosel, the jet set pair made a base at Alheit Vineyards high on the Hemel-and-Aarde Ridge in Walker Bay. Their highly rated debut, Cartology 2011, is intended to be a picture of the Cape as seen through the lens of its mature vineyards. Composed of rare parcels of mature bush vines from Perdeberg, Kasteelberg and Franschhoek, the Chenin Blanc/Semillon blend is naturally fermented and aged in old French oak barrels. 

2: Victoria Ash (34)

Bringing bags of enthusiasm to the English wine scene is Manchester-born Victoria Ash, who joined Hush Heath Estate in Kent as a winemaker in 2010. Ash cut her teeth at Sacred Hill in New Zealand, which led to a stint at Oddbins and a diploma from Plumpton College. Returning to New Zealand, this time to Mission Estate, Ash was soon snapped up by Ridgeview back home and offered the role of assistant winemaker. While envisaging laying down roots in warmer climes, Ash aims to make the finest sparkling rosé England has to offer, alongside small production cuvées, single vineyard wines and estate produced ciders. “The English wine industry is so exciting; I wouldn’t want to be making wine anywhere else,” she says. 

3: Tom Barry (27)

A third generation winemaker at Jim Barry Wines, Tom was named Young Winemaker of the Year at the Gourmet Traveller Wine Awards in Sydney last September. Barry graduated from the University of Adelaide with the same degree in oenology both his grandfather and father attained before him. He spread his wings via stints at Yalumba, Shaw + Smith and Dr Loosen in the Mosel Valley, before returning home to the family business as a winemaker. “I used the time in Germany and Austria to learn as much about Riesling as I could. It’s still underrated in Australia. We have some of the world’s greatest Riesling vineyards in the Claire Valley, and I envisage a huge world demand for these clean, pure, bone-dry styles,” he predicts. 

4: Brooke Blair (35)

Born in South Australia, Brooke Blair currently looks after all red wine production at Jackson-Triggs’ Okanagan estate. Her responsibilities include evaluating quality through batch tasting, preparing blends for bottling and working with growers to monitor the harvest. Her vineyard manager father ignited Blair’s passion for wine, leading her to study oenology at the University of Adelaide. After a three-year stint at Hollick Wines in Coonawarra as assistant winemaker, Blair travelled to Spain to work at Bodega Mustiguillo in Utiel Requena before settling in Canada under the tutelage of Bruce Nicholson and being promoted to red winemaker in 2007. “Winemaking is an important balance between science and art,” she says. “By combining the two, I aim to make the finest quality wine possible.” 

5: Pierre Casenave (36) 

Born in the Pyrenees, Casenave could have quite easily become a doctor rather than a winemaker, studying pharmacy for six yeas at the University of Bordeaux. During a stint studying chemistry in Pamplona, Casenave had a lightbulb moment and realised his calling in life was wine rather than medicine, leading to a degree in oenology from the University of Montpellier. Cutting his winemaking teeth in St Emilion, Pomerol and Stellenbosch in South Africa, Casenave joined LVMH-owned Champagne house Veuve Clicquot as winemaker in 2008 under the stewardship of Cyril Brun and chef de caves Dominique Demarville. Taking an active role in the creation of blends across all wines in the Veuve stable, Casenave is particularly focused on producing Chardonnay from sites located in Vertus.

6: Sebastian Cathiard (28)

Last August, Sebastian Cathiard took over from his father Sylvain as director of Domaine Sylvain Cathiard, which spans five-and-a-half hectares of vineyards in Vosne-Romanée, Nuits-St-Georges andy Chambolle-Musigny, including tiny holdings in Clos Vougueot and Romanée- St-Vivant. Having studied oenology in Beaune, which involved stints at Domaine de Chantemerle in Chablis and Château Smith-Haut Lafitte in Pessac-Léognan, after graduating, Cathiard jetted off to New Zealand for a six-month placement at Domaine Fromm in Marlborough. Working under his father’s wing back home since 2005, he took over winemaking duties at the estate with the 2011 vintage, making wines that offer, according to Jasper Morris MW, “exceptional energy and purity of fruit”.

7: Pierre-Olivier Clouet (33)

The handsome technical director of Château Cheval Blanc in St Emilion graduated from Caen University as an engineer in agronomy. Interning at Cheval Blanc in 2004, Clouet enjoyed the experience so much he returned two years later after securing an oenology degree from the University of Bordeaux. Returning like the prodigal son, Clouet was made technical director of Château La Tour du Pin – a St Emilion Grand Cru Classé estate owned by Cheval Blanc – along with Château Quinault L’Enclos in Libourne, a recent acquisition of LVMH’s top dog, Bernard Arnault. Since 2008, Clouet has been technical director of Cheval Blanc where he oversees production in both the vineyard and cellar alongside Pierre Lurton. 

8: Matthew Day (28)

Fresh-faced Matthew Day has big shoes to fill, having been made winemaker at Klein Constantia in the Constantia Valley, makers of Napoleon’s favourite sweet wine, Vin de Constance. Day grew up in Johannesburg, but an interest in winemaking saw him relocate to the Cape to pursue his passion. After graduating from Stellenbosch University with a degree in oenology, he flew the nest to work harvests at Château Bellefont Belcier and Château Trianon in St Emilion, Elderton Estate in the Barossa Valley and Dancing Hares Estate in Napa, before returning home to work at Meerlust. Day joined Klein Constantia as assistant winemaker in 2008, becoming winemaker in 2010. Rather than take the wine in a radical direction, he aims to build on Vin de Constance’s reputation. 

9: Jochen Dreissigacker (32)

At the forefront of the current Rheinhessen revival, Jochen Dreissigacker (try saying that after a few Rieslings), is crafting some of Germany’s most exciting wines that display both purity of fruit and upfront aromatics. One of the rising stars of the German wine scene, Dreissigacker took over the running of his family estate in 2005. 

Last year, he was voted one of the 100 most influential Germans under 40 by German GQ magazine and had his wines served by Angela Merkel to US President Barack Obama at a dinner hosted by the German Chancellor in Berlin last June. Dreissigacker decided to abandon his studies as a tax consultant to pursue his winemaking dream. At the estate, he favours minimum intervention, only using wild yeasts and stainless steel vats, having converted to organics in 2010.

10: Caroline Frey (35)

Taking the helm from her father Jean Jacques at her family’s 80-hectare Haut- Médoc third growth Château La Lagune in 2004, under Frey’s stewardship the wines have undergone a renaissance, leading US wine critic Robert Parker to gush: “Today, La Lagune is producing wines that are better than anything made during the estate’s glory days in the seventies and eighties.” 

Having graduated from the University of Bordeaux with a degree in oenology, before joining the family business, Frey studied under Denis Dubourdieu for two years at his Graves property, Floridene. During her tenure, Frey, who manages a team of 30, has overseen the rebuilding of the winery at La Lagune and made strides in implementing elements of organic and biodynamic viticulture. In addition to her numerous duties at La Lagune, Frey is also a winemaker at the 110-hectare Domaines Paul Jaboulet Ainé in the Rhône Valley. 

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Food and drink trends for 2014

In an article originally published in The Drinks Business, I look into my crystal ball to bring you what I think will be the ten biggest food and drink trends in the UK this year. By way of reference, here are my 2013 predictions. Agree or disagree? Let me know in the comment box below.

1: Eastern Promise

Following on from last year’s interest in Korean food, 2014 will see Vietnamese food given the spotlight via Bobby Chinn’s House of Ho, which opened in Soho this week. Drawing on 18 years of cooking experience in Hanoi and Saigon, Chinn (pictured), who was born in New Zealand to a Chinese father and Egyptian mother, will bring a contemporary approach to Vietnamese cooking via the likes of apple-smoked pork belly with braised cabbage, lemongrass monkfish, and duck "a la banana" – shredded confit duck banana blossom salad.

Also set to take off in London this year is Japanese-Peruvian fusion, known as Nikkei cuisine, championed at places like the recently opened Chotto Matte in Soho, where black cod and maki rolls share a menu with sea bass ceviche and scallop tiradito. A buzz is steadily building around Hakkasan founder Alan Yau’s next venture, Duck & Rice, which bills itself as a “Chinese gastropub”, while there are also high hopes that the ramen burger, invented at a New York food festival last summer by Keizo Shimamoto, will make it across the pond this year. 

2: Savoury cocktails

With London at the epicenter of innovation, the trend for savoury cocktails will continue to evolve in 2014, championed by the London Cocktail Club and Tony Conigliaro at The Grain Store through creations such as the Pumpkin Bellini and Green Tomato Margarita. Expect to see more of the likes of bacon-infused, mustard and horseradish vodka being used as a base spirit in cocktails, while spices will also weave their way into mixed drinks to add heat and interest without the unwanted calories.

In keeping with the trend for vegetable-based cocktails, The Botanist in Sloane Square has launched a range of ginseng liqueur Kamm & Sons five-a-day cocktails, including the Green Twist, made with juiced spinach, Kamm & Sons and celery; and the Beetroot Mary – a twist on the Bloody Mary using beetroot in place of tomato juice. Speaking of tomato, there is even talk of pizza cocktails coming to the capital by way of New York. You’ve been warned… 

3: The return of fine dining

After years of penny pinching, pop-ups, burger joints and casual dining outlets, there will be a return to fine dining in the capital, with Londoners craving attentive customer service and a sense of occasion. As we emerge from the grips of the recession, there will be a change in mindsets and a desire to feel well looked after when eating out. Though rather than stuffy service and starched table cloths, a new breed of fine dining establishment will emerge that prides itself on offering, as Marcus Wareing puts it, “a dinner party atmosphere.”

The Gordon Ramsay protégé is so keen to adapt to the times that he’s ordered a £1.4m makeover of his “dated” two Michelin-starred Knightsbridge restaurant, with heavily starched linen going on the bonfire and less of an emphasis placed on tasting menus. 2014 will see waiting staff taking more of an American approach to service, with warmth and friendliness triumphing over formality. 

4: The rise of the restaurant bar

No longer either non-existent or simply an afterthought, we will see the restaurant bar rise to prominence this year, such as the Campari, Aperol and Negroni bars at Russell Norman’s three Polpo sites, with the best becoming destination venues in themselves, independent of the restaurants they inhabit.

An early champion of this trend was Jason Atherton, who pioneered the concept at his Michelin-starred flagship Pollen Street Social, and rolled it out to sister sites Social Eating House in Soho, which boasts a speakeasy-style bar, The Blind Pig, on the first floor, and the hugely popular and regularly star-studded Berners Tavern at the London Edition hotel, where quirky cocktails like the Dill or No Dill and the Cereal Killer are given top billing. As the calibre of cocktails improves at restaurant bars, increasing efforts will be made to integrate cocktails throughout a meal, rather than them being used solely as bookends.

5: The continued brasserie boom

If 2012 was the year of the steakhouse in London, 2013 will be remembered as the year of the brasserie, with seasoned French chef Eric Chavot scooping a Michelin star mere months after opening his eponymous Brasserie Chavot in Mayfair and Bethnal Green-born father of five Keith McNally upping sticks from New York to open the hotly anticipated London outpost of his hugely successful and oft star-studded brasserie Balthazar in Covent Garden.
The ever-buzzing Bermondsey Street also saw the arrival of adorable, stamp-sized bistro Casse-Croûte, run by Hervé Durochat, a partner in José Pizarro’s two restaurants on the same street. And with the recent opening of Blanchette in Soho and all-day brasserie One Kensington, from the team behind Tamarind, opening in March, London’s brasserie boom is showing no sign of slowing this year. 

6: Back to basics 

There will be a return to simplicity on the cocktail front this year, with contemporary twists on classic cocktails continuing to thrive and molecular mixology shunned in favour of simple creations that shine a light on the quality of the base spirit. In line with the trend, elaborate garnishes will be out, and understated presentation in quality glassware in. The number of ingredients used in cocktails will be reined in to focus on two or three key components. This stripped back approach is in play at Ryan Chetiyawardana’s White Lyan in Hoxton, which brazenly shuns the use of ice, citrus, sugar and fruit and champions pre-made cocktails.

7: Americana 

The capital has gone bonkers for all things American, with diners popping up faster than Miley Cyrus can take her clothes off. Late last year saw the likes of the Soho House group’s Soho Diner in Old Compton Street and Jackson & Rye on Wardour Street join the party, offering everything from buttermilk blueberry pancakes, buttermilk-fried chicken, creamed grits and clam chowder to hard shakes. Expect the trend to continue this year through the likes of Strip Bar & Steak in Barbican, Avenue in St James’s, Brooklyn Bowl at the O2 and Big Easy Covent Garden, whose bar will shine a light on Mezcal and Bourbon. 

8: Craft beer 

Having already exploded in the US, 2014 will be the year when the UK fully embraces craft beer, driven by the proliferation of small independent brewers popping up around Britain. With a slew of new craft brewers shaking things up in the capital, pioneering Meantime is now joined by the likes of the Camden Town Brewery, which produces 30,000 pints a week, Crate in Hackney Wick, The Kernel in Bermondsey and Redemption Brewing Company in Tottenham.
Often boasting quirky, eye-catching packaging, these lovingly crafted brews are bringing beer to a new audience and broadening its appeal. London restaurants and bars are also doing their bit in flagging up these homegrown hops, led by the likes of the Craft Beer Company and the Draft House. 

9: Pork

We’ve gone clucking mad for chicken and barmy for beef, but the meat on everyone’s lips in 2014 will be pork. In keeping with the Americana trend, pulled pork will continue to headline on menus, with pioneering Pitt Cue Coe inspiring a new legion of restaurant that specialise in smoking, such as the newly opened Ember Yard (the latest venture in Simon Mullins’ Salt Yard group) in Soho, where you’ll find hot smoked old spot pork belly with Basque cider glaze. At Russell Norman’s new gastropub, The Ape & Bird, pig’s trotter Scotch eggs are already proving a hit, while the latest addition to The Pig hotel group’s litter, The Pig-near Bath, is due to open in March, celebrating all things porcine.

Taking the piggy trend to another level is the recently opened Blackfoot in Exmouth Market, where slow-roasted pork belly with Szechuan pepper and black treacle, pulled pork tacos, and Vietnamese pot belly salad all feature. Owners Tom Ward and Allegra McEvedy decided to embark on the venture due to a joint “emotional attachment” to all things porky. The pair have cannily plucked head chef James Knight from Copita to steer their piggy ship, where the squealers come by way of a friendly farm in Suffolk.

10: Hipster wine bars

Wine is having a bit of a moment with London’s hipsters, spurred on by the opening of Sager + Wilde in Hackney, a no-reservations bar that started life as a pop-up run by husband and wife duo, Charlotte and Michael Sager-Wilde. Achingly hip in an unpretentious way, with open brickwork walls, 1920s station lights and a cast iron bar, S&W serves everything from big gun producers like California’s Ridge to obscure boutique names via Basque Txakoli and Mosel Riesling, including hard-to-source bottles for a set £20 mark-up.

Also making waves are The Remedy in Fitzrovia, which focuses on natural wines from Europe served alongside charcuterie and cheese platters, and Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels in Covent Garden from the team behind the Experimental Cocktail Club. Passionate about championing the unsung rising stars of the wine world, CVS is constantly on the hunt for new independent producers to flag up on its list, which changes on a weekly bases depending on what’s selling. 

We'll see the continued democratisation of wine in London this year through evens like Wine Car Boot, run by former fashion model Ruth Spivey, and London Wine Sessions, which are doing their bit in helping to bring wine to a younger, hipper audience.