When owner and chef patron Agnar Sverrisson opened 28°-50° Wine Workshop & Kitchen with former co-owner and sommelier Xavier Rousset in 2010, it’s only a slight exaggeration to say that they have assisted in revolutionizing the wine bar concept across London.
Naming the bars after the latitudes within which most of the world’s vineyards are located, the idea—now applied to three venues across the city after the success of the original site in Fetter Lane—is simple. Each has a concise two-page list, with each wine served by the glass, carafe, or bottle, and matched with an affordable menu of simple, well-cooked modern bistro dishes. What makes it work so well is the skill on show: both in the quality of the cooking, and the imagination put into the short selection of wine choices.
The wine list is a microcosm of the current natural-minded zeitgeist, with the accent on drinkability rather than showy fruit, and extreme concentration on small producers and backwoods appellations, rather than the traditional big classic names (although there’s a tempting handful of mature classic vintages such as Château Lynch-Bages 1995). The down-to-earth prices and small servings invite exploration: from the Quinta das Maias Branco from Portugal’s Dão to Blank Bottle Moment of Silence from Wellington, South Africa and Guitiérrez Colosia Amontillado Sherry. Judge Alder Yarrow described the list as “lots of fun to be found in two pages of gems”. The team at 28-50 may take wine seriously but drinking here is always a joy.