One of my colleagues recently left our Salford Quays office to venture into the wild London. She had expressed the desire to know more about wine so when the time came to arrange something for her farewell drinks, there was (unfortunately) only one place I could think of. Somewhere unpretentious, ideally located, serving food and with an accessible and varied wine list.
Bakerie is located on Lever Street, just off Stevenson Square in the Northern Quarter of Manchester. It is, to my knowledge, the only wine bar in Manchester. Aside from an extensive list of wines by the glass and by the bottle at affordable prices, their other “unique” feature – for a bar – is that they make their own bread… a Bread + Wine bar. It’s decent enough, the food is ok, the bread is good although I think they’re a bit tight with their olive oil and balsamic vinegar mix, there is just enough to eat half the bread that comes with it. Also I think their beer offering could do with a few rebelious additions. But that’s by the by. Worth pointing out that they also opened a wine store at the back so you can purchase all those lovely pins, and probably more, if you like them. I’ve never been however so I can’t comment.
When Bakerie arrived I was feeling contradictorily excited and annoyed at the same time. That Manchester finally gets a wine bar is great. I think bars with a good, varied and affordable wine list are too few and far between. But I was also annoyed because opening a wine bar and getting people to feel interested and curious about wine (and beer for that matter) is a bit of a dream of mine. Of course I don’t have the preparedness and firepower of established chain boozers like Living Ventures & Co so it’s a bit more complicated for me.
All I would say though, in my humble opinion (and I know I’m fussy and over-critical), is that they have not quite nailed it. I don’t know what it is, whether it’s the decor – which is a bit bland – the food – good but nothing to dream of at night, at least they’re not charging the world for it – the music…is there actually any music in there? Maybe, can’t remember. I vaguely remember seeing Holy Grail projected on the wall though; that was a bit random. They have the wine and bread ingredients alright but the place is lacking the excitement factor for me which is a shame. It’s still the only place that comes to mind to have a wide range of wines to drink and most importantly wines that are available by the glass. When it comes to it, I’ve never had a bad time in there and the wines are always good. And it’s ideally placed.
On the night, there were 7-8 of us. The service was attentive and good, our glasses were changed everytime another wine was ordered. Simple things like clean glasses, small and tulip shaped for whites, larger for reds, it’s all there. Whilst some may think it’s self-evident, and I would agree, it’s not quite the norm in the North yet. We all had food and it was well prepared and tasty and overall, with 4 bottles of wine drunk between us, it ended up at £20 a head which is rather good value for money I think.
Here are the wines we tasted on the night:
Kleine Zalze, Chenin Blanc 2012, South Africa
This is Kleine Zalze’s introduction range i.e. less about the terroir but more about the fruit and the direct enjoyment and on that basis it did deliver. Chenin Blanc is one of my favourite white grapes and is capable of creating very different wines. This one has luscious ripe peachy flavours along with a crisp apple tanguiness, a citrusy acidity and a white pepper finish. Not overly complex but well balanced and very pleasant.
You can find this wine in some online wine retailers from £6 to £8, not including shipping.
Bishop’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc 2011 – Marlborough, New Zealand
Supposedly made by the St Clair winery in New Zealand as claimed by the UK suppliers but I could not quite tie it back to them. In any case, this was a classic example of entry-level kiwi Sauvignon: elderflower and a hint of sea breeze, lemony acidity, very crisp and dry but developing light and subtle white peach and pear flavours when kept on the palate a bit. Not much of a finish but otherwise clean and pure.
This wine can be found at £9 to £10 from many online wine retailers.
Flagstone Wines – Longitude 2011 – Shiraz, Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec
Sorry, no photo for this one but google “Flagstone Longitude” and you’ll get there.
This is the only red we had on that night. I believe the three grape varietals mentioned here are only part of the mix as Flagstone claim to put some pinotage to give it this “unique” South African feel. I believe there is also some Merlot in there and Majestic, who used to sell this wine for £4.99 (??) also mentions Cabernet Franc, Petit Verdot and Tannat. To be honest I have not recognised any of these in the glass. It’s the antithesis of a terroir wine. A wine designed to be cheap and heavily drinkable. Not much on the nose, very light, clear and bright red (despite all those big black grapes). Light and smooth, soft tannins. Plumy black fruits. There is technically nothing wrong with it and if you’re after a glass of fermented Ribena, this is your boy.
We all had a good time, all were pleased with the food and the wine and I’m pretty sure none of my colleagues would agree with me on the minor criticisms so if you like wine and bread, get yourself down there. It’s the best we have in Manchester so tell the rest of the world you want more wine 😉