Some things in life have a time and a place, and for us high summer means a restaurant garden or majestic view and a glass of fine fizz. Here’s our pick of those places.
Words: Giles Fallowfield and Mark de Wesselow
Coq d’Argent, City
What: Come the summer there’s nothing that beats Coq d’Argent’s magical rooftop garden in the heart of the Square Mile, aided by a French menu conjuring plenty of Gallic luxury.
Wine: The wine list is a heavily diverting affair and Champagne is treated with reverence and plenty of top names, from Taittinger to Bruno Paillard and vintage aristocrats like Dom Pérignon ’06 or Pol Roger ’95.
Top Tip: Moët & Chandon Impérial Rosé NV (£95) – floral notes of roses and hawthorn on the nose, and red summer berries and a hint of spice on the palate.
1 Poultry, EC2R 8EJ
Oblix, London Bridge
What: Book a table at Rainer Becker’s slick penthouse-chic dining room in The Shard for a dazzling gastronomic experience combining views, ambience and culinary fireworks in equal measure.
Wine: The Sommelier Station brings something different to the prelims here, giving you the chance to enjoy a good selection of wines by the glass, including Billecart-Salmon Rosé, Ruinart Blanc de Blancs and Krug Grande Cuvée, as well as a choice of handy half-bottle sizes and magnums.
Top Tip: Charles Heidsieck Brut Réserve NV (bottle and magnum, £65/£130). Based on the 2008 harvest, with lots or reserve wine in the blend, this has a taste profile more like that of a fine vintage Champagne with developed nutty and stone-fruit aromas, lovely textural richness and mid-palate creaminess, plus a gorgeous finish.
Level 32, The Shard, 31 St Thomas Street, SE1 9RY
The Ritz, St Jame's
What: The capital’s poshest alfresco spot puts new meaning into sun-kissed gardens, and here at The Ritz you’ll be fed, watered and cossetted beyond compare.
Wine: Running to 85 pages, this is a serious, wallet-emptying tome, including a Sommelier’s Fine Wines Selection that runs to 27 bins. Billecart-Salmon is one of two houses served by the glass, but the main Champagne section runs to six pages and includes over 120 different cuvées. There’s room for De Sousa (Avize), Rodez (Ambonnay) and Henri Giraud (Aÿ) alongside the big brands.
Top Tip: Deutz Amour de Deutz 2005 (£190): a silken, refined blend of Côte des Blancs Chardonnay from Le Mesnil-sur-Oger and Avize grand crus. A splash of Villers-Marmery adds extra body and sumptuousness, and on the nose there are aromas of fresh pastry and ripe nectarine.
150 Piccadilly, W1J 9BR
The River Café, Hammersmith
What: If you’re looking for rus in urbe, it’s hard to beat The River Café’s magical riverside garden. Add in all the summery freshness of chargrilled squid with fresh red chilli and rocket or something else from the top-of-its-game Italian menu and you’ll be living the dolce vita.
Wine: The list is a Ferrari-chauffeured tour around Italy’s big names – except for the sparklers, where there’s just one Prosecco and Bellavista’s high-quality vintage franciacorta. The extensive range of cuvées from Billecart-Salmon, which has been the pouring Champagne since The River Café opened, heads a short Champagne list, where it’s joined only by Charles Heidsieck, Dom Ruinart, Krug and Salon.
Top Tip: Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Nicolas François Billecart 2002 (£280): Developed but still fresh with impressive, chalky mid-palate intensity and a long complex finish. Great wine from what many see as the top vintage of the decade.
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, W6 9HA
Vertigo 42, City
What: Sky-high drinking dens are now two a penny in London but this Champagne bar was one of the first, taking thrilling views to new heights at the turn of the century and sticking fine French fizz at the heart of affairs.
Wine: An interesting selection with some less well known, high-quality producers like Veuve Fourny among the grand houses. Vintage Champagnes with a bit of bottle age include Lanson Gold Label from 2002 (£120) and Gosset Grand Millésime 2000 (£145).
Top Tip: Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 1998 (£250): The secret of this age-worthy fizz is that it has top Chardonnay from the Montagne de Reims giving it muscle and weight to combine with the razor edge and chalky intensity of Côte des Blancs villages.
Level 42, 25 Old Broad Street, EC2N 1HQ
In the mood for further oenophile pleasures? Check out of list of the best wine lists in London
This article was published 28 July 2017