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Bakerie Tasting Store Examined Plus Other Wine Stories

Neil Sowerby gets his hands dirty for us tasting great wines

Published on August 15th 2012.

Bakerie Tasting Store Examined Plus Other Wine Stories

IT’S great to see the Bakerie and Tasting Store up for Newcomer of the Year at this year’s Manchester Food and Drink Awards.

By next year I’m sure it will feature in the Wine Retailer shortlist, too, because the arrival of ex-Oddbins honcho Dale Meakin has given  real impetus.
Dale’s a protege of Steven Daniels, the buyer who once helped make Oddbins great, and the influence shows with a savvy, eclectic selection across the price range from the impressive Pegaes Portuguese house wines up (a snip at £6.49). 
The Tasting Store, tucked in behind The Bakerie proper on Lever Street, sells bread baked on site and a large range of wines to take away. The temptation, though, is to sit down with a small plate of food and sample from an eclectic range of bottles (including some high end examples) from a serving system unique in Manchester. 'By The Glass' preserves opened bottles for at least two weeks in perfect condition. 
Basically it’s what the Italians call an Enoteca and, aptly, Dale is particularly proud of the Serafino reds he stocks from Piedmont.
As a Dolcetto fan, I cajoled him into letting me taste their £16.95 example, all bitter cherries with a hint of almond. Then we had to compare the Serafino Barbera d’Alba (£13.95) – spicy with refreshing acidity mellowed by some oak. At £26.95, the Serafino Barbaresco is an altogether more complex, closed-in beast brooding under it beguiling aromas of violet and damson.
I am partial to Frenchman Jean Bousquet’s organic/biodynamic Malbecs from Argentina. With a couple of bad influence foodie colleagues, three bottles of the Reserve got supped one lunchtime at the Bakerie proper. So this time I allowed myself the merest sip of the Jean Bousquet Grande Reserva 2009. Enough to take in chocolate, leather, spice, dark plums, all in perfect balance, that hit nose and palate. Worth the leap up to £20.99.
Two curiosities to conclude – Meinklang Sparkling Pinot Noir Rose (£10.49) from Austria and India’s Sula Sauvignon Blanc. The first is a strawberryish frizzante charmer, the latter proof that cool climate Indian vineyards can produce refreshing, fruit-driven whites.
Mosel winemakers Weingut Staffelter Hof ran a masterclass at Hanging Ditch on Deansgate (click here). Of their top-end wines the classic Heraldic Kraver Steffensberg Riesling Auslese 2005 remains on the shelves at £22.50.
For summer drinking I recommend the winery’s Wolf Magnus Rose 2011 (£12.50). Made from 70 per cent pinot noir/30 per cent Regent and only 11.5 per cent ABV, it’s subtly spicy and savoury. Or for fizz, the 2009 Staffelter Hof Riesling Sekt Brut (12.5per cent, £15), bready and slightly fungal on the nose, offers a persistent mousse and an appley, peachy shot of Riesling fruit.
Hanging Ditch’s Ben Stephenson has been over in Galicia in North West Spain creating their own red, rose and white house blends called Las Brujas (it translates as The Witches), each priced at £9. I particularly enjoyed the 2011 White, an attractive tropical mix of sauvignon and verdejo.
Neighbours along Cateaton Street Harvey Nichols showcased their Foodmarket the other day and a trio of their own exclusively sourced “house wines” impressed. Prices are retail from the wine shop; the wines can also be bought online here.
Harvey Nichols Sauvignon Blanc 2011 (£14): Ripe essence of Marlborough – passionfruit and gooseberry flavours given length and richness here by some careful barrel-ageing. 
Harvey Nichols Chablis Premier Cru 2010 (£19.50): No oak in this elegant, minerally gem from the dynamic Domaine Alain Geoffroy. Honeyed on the nose, the citrussy old vine fruit and piercing acidity are beautifully balanced. Definitely oyster-friendly.
Harvey Nichols Douro Red 2009 (£15): Fine Portuguese blend of Touriga Nacional, Touriga Franca and Tinta Roriz made by Quinta da Rosa, who use the same varieties in the ports they also supply to HN. Sturdy cherry and spice kick.
In the nearby Triangle (and completing a handy triangle of wine retailers) is Salvi’s (click here), which for some unaccountable reason was omitted from the MFDF shortlist. Obvious excuses for frequenting this miniscule family-run deli are the terrific coffee to sup at tables in the back and the buffalo mozzarella that sits in large bowls at the front corner. 
But its wine offering is good too and likely to get better on the evidence of a trial tasting there with suppliers Eurowines of wines from Trentino, Campania and Puglia. By next month when the selected new lines are on the shelves I’ll give you the full run-down.
In other news.....

Globe-trotting wine consultant Michel Rolland is responsible for wines across many countries bearing his stamp – fruit-heavy, oak-influenced and not to the taste of 'terroiristes', who crave local characteristics to the fore.
I can see where they are coming from in the Clos de la Siete Michel Rolland 2009 from Argentina. Masterminded by Rolland, Siete is a unique project of seven French wine proprietors mostly from Bordeaux, encompassing five different wineries across 850 acres of the Southern Uco Valley. 

Clos de Los SieteClos de Los Siete

This latest flagship red (£13.29 at Waitrose, Majestic and under promotion at the latter from September 4 at £10.99) is a dense and silky blend of Malbec, Merlot, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot with New World ripe tannins. About 70 per cent barrel ageing, some in new oak, gives it a definite opulence, but it’s just a bit obvious.
I feared the same effect with Piccini Sasso al Poggio ‘Super Tuscan’ IGT Toscana 2007. Super Tuscan usually means Cabernet (20 per cent here, along with the same amount of Merlot) blended with the traditional Sangiovese and usually commands stratospheric prices (think Sassicaia, Tignanello). Sasso al Poggio ('Stone on the Hill) is just £12.99 from selected Morrisons.
This red, from vineyards on fragmented rock soils, is lavished with oak. Each grape variety  is vinified separately, then after blending spends a year in oak barrels followed by a similar period in smaller barriques. The result is attractive, liquorice and black cherry with vanilla hints from the oak. I just miss the sternness of a proper Chianti.
Southern French staple Carignan invariably gets blended with other more immediately appealing grapes. Alto Stratus, Carignan, 2010 (click here, £16.99) is an exception. It’s part of the the multi-award winning Clouds and Winds Languedoc range from Abbotts and Delaunay. Global domination is the aim again, but the 100-year-old vines have yielded exceptional yielded fruit. Damson and garrigue herbs... oh and the inevitable vanilla cloak.
For a simpler Southern French red (with the vanilla coming from oak staves) look no further than Montgravet Cabernet Merlot 2011. Juicy black fruit to accompany whatever you’ve charred on the barbie. Excellent value at £4.99 from Waitrose.
Finally, with summer just about peeping through, a couple of (non-German) Rieslings plus, inevitably a bargain Beaujolais.
The Trimbachs have been making wine in Alsace since 1626. Their Trimbach Riesling 2010 (Majestic, £10.99) really hits the mark from the lemony aromas through to the crisp elegance and lingering peachy flavours.
Tesco’s Finest Tingletup Riesling 2011 (£9.99) epitomises the Aussie Riesling style, all lemon and lime, bracing acidity with a hint of sweetness. Asda is a reliable source of Beaujolais but with the 2011 Extra Special Beaujolais Villages from Pasquier-Desvignes they have excelled themselves. Plums and spice in abundance – all for £5.97. Serve chilled.

Trimbach Riesling 2010Trimbach Riesling 2010

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5 comments so far, continue the conversation, write a comment.

Vincent ThompsonAugust 15th 2012.

If the bottles are this big they're well worth the money!

Jonathan SchofieldAugust 15th 2012.

They're massive in them there shops Vinnie, you can't see your children over the top of them, or even your award-winning marrows.

AnonymousAugust 16th 2012.

BTW, let's give the rebranding a chance get in the habit of calling it the Corn Exchange again. Personally I always called it that and I've only been in Mcr for ~8yrs.

Phil MurphyAugust 16th 2012.

Surely there's room for a 'best place to buy wine' in the best section?
Personally I think the tasting store is not putting nearly enough emphasis or marketing into their great range 'in store'.
It has a brilliant selection of wines, the opportunity to taste some that most people would never ordinarily stretch their budget to, with their innovative 'stay fresh' wine machine. I'm not massively into wines but found the staff helpful and down to earth, while it came across as very knowledgeable advice.
Let's see the specialist wine retailers listed please? In a way that tempts people into paying more attention to their tipple. Considering how much is written at mancon about food with passing references to wine, wouldn't it make sense to give it a niche?

I'd have thought also that the official 'House of Commons' house wine being available there was worth a mention. I couldn't resist getting a bottle of that.
It's in a difficult location but I sincerely hope it gets the custom it deserves.

That small independent convenience store on Tib St too, has an unusual and broad range of wines and beers. The young punks range is rocket fuel - some people like their wine with some umph I guess?

Phil MurphyAugust 17th 2012.

Spoke too soon obviously!

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