We only popped into Vagabond Wines on Northcote Road, Battersea, to see what it was all about and to peruse the wines on offer. Two hours later we emerged, full and ever so slightly bleary eyed, but having had a jolly nice time.
Vagabond is situated near the junction of Northcote Road and Battersea Rise. There is a small seating area at the front, along the pavement area, which is covered by an awning and is made nice and cosy with cushions, blankets and patio heaters. Inside, the decor is an inviting mix of high wooden benches, built using wine boxes, comfy seats near the front and high metal bar stools. What really seals the deal though are the Enomatic style wine dispensers which house 80 bottles of wine, just waiting to be tasted. There is no mistaking the fact that this place does wine.
Please excuse the slightly wonky iPhone landscape photos of the wine dispensers.
The way the wine works is simple. You can buy a bottle and enjoy that, or you can pay a £5 deposit for a dispensing card, top it up with credit and then sample a range of wines from the 80 on offer. You can select either a tasting shot, a 125ml glass or a 175ml glass of your chosen tipple. Each wine is displayed in the machine and is accompanied with helpful tasting notes, which you can take a copy of, to help you make your choice.
Over the course of the afternoon, we sampled 6 different wines.
Each dispensing unit has 10 different wines in, splitting them up into different categories. The 40 red wines are split into; Bold, Elegant, Spicy and Vibrant. The 30 white wines are Crisp, Aromatic and Rich. The last unit had 5 rose wines, and 5 sweet and fortified wines. Above each wine is a small paper sheet which provides you with a good description of the wine, and along with the dispenser categories, helps you chose one that you should hopefully enjoy, or perhaps a wine you don’t know much about but want to try. This is the description for the Vibrant Rall Cinsault, a fantastic South African red wine from a very good wine maker:
The notes above are about spot on. Lovely fruit up front, a hint of violet, supple tannins, and an almost savoury finish to it. Fantastic. I also enjoyed an Elegant Rioja (Tempranillo with a small % of Garnacha and Graciano) which started with cherry and bramble fruits and finished with a lovely spiciness to it, and an Elegant Nebbiolo from Langhe (Northern Italy) which again was very nice. A pleasant hint of strawberry, red fruits and rose, but, as the description said, a tarriness to it which, along with the tannins, gave it a bigger mouthfeel and structure to what was a paler red wine. It was young (2015) so the tannins were quite firm, and I’m sure it would be even better in 5-10 years time although I’m not sure Vagabond will have any left by then!
Due to a slight oversight of enjoying the wine too much, notes for the white wines were forgotten, but we do recall that amongst those enjoyed, was a Crisp easy drinking wine of unknown grape variety (forgotten tasting sheet!), a Rich white Rioja with tropical fruits, some minerality and fresh acidity, and a Rich Viognier from Hawkes Bay in New Zealand, which had lovely peach and mango, was full bodied and buttery smooth. Some very enjoyable wines.
Now we’ve been over the wine, we can move onto the fantastic food. The menu here includes a range of dishes. There are some nibbles which include sourdough bread, croquettes, white bait and chorizo. They also offer small plates and then a range of sharing platters, all of which sounded delicious. It was lunchtime and we had planned to get something to eat on the move but having a quick glance at the menu and having a mutual weakness for cheese and charcuterie, we decided to order a platter to enjoy alongside the wine we were going to sample.
The tasting board didn’t take long to arrive and it looked impressive. It included 3 cheeses and 3 meats, cornichons, olives and a basket of sourdough bread with salted butter. We were hungry and we enjoyed it, washing it all down with our carefully selected tipple.
When it became apparent we would be staying for more than 1 glass of wine each, we decided to try a few of the nibbles on the pretext of them helping soak up the alcohol, but basically because they sounded so good. We went for the pork crunch and a bowl of the parmesan and proscuitto croquettes.
The pork crunch are puffed up pork scratchings, aptly named, they were light and crunchy, dipped in the mustard on the side they were great. The croquettes were lovely, with a creamy and gooey inside, and a piquillo pepper sauce which was a well matched accompaniment.
Finally, being big fans of them, we had a portion of padron peppers. These were served in a crispy batter and with an aioli dip. They were delicious, we loved the batter and the dip went perfectly.
The team serving were friendly and polite, and more than happy to talk about the wines on offer and answer the questions we had. Based on the number of people that arrived after us, it is probably advisable to book a table in advance. The secret courtyard out the back looked lovely.
So, that was a very enjoyable and unexpected couple of hours and I know we’ve said it at the end of most of our other reviews, but there is no doubt we will be going back to Vagabond Northcote Road, or one of their other branches, in the very near future and “dragging” a few of our friends along with us.