Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels (CDVS) comes from exceptionally good stock. Just a short jaunt across Charing Cross, past a less than amiable door-man and up some stairs sits their sister bar, the venerable Experimental Cocktail Club. If ECC fulfils the archetypal, albeit ideal version of the nouveau speakeasy, CDVS draws from a far more traditional pattern. There are few bars in Central London that offer this level of seclusion. The bar is split over two floors with outdoor seating occupying the most scenic spot in Neal’s Yard.
There’s not enough shelf space in all of the world to fit the books that could be written about what we don’t know about wine. It is to be expected that the staff of such a bar are highly knowledgeable. It is an immense relief when they are also gracious in their knowledge. It is easy to come away from a bar with such a superb selection of wine having been dwarfed and intimidated. It speaks to the superb service at CDVS that we left both having learnt something and really quite drunk.
Our wines were paired with dishes from their food menu with an outstanding eye for detail. Our aperitif; El Tresillo Amontillado Fino bought out a distinct taste of walnut in the unreasonably delicious Jamon Iberico with which it was served. The highlight of the wine tasting came from the Rhone Valley, and Yves Cuilleron’s Saint Joseph. We’ve alluded to our limited pallet, but this was the finest white wine we had ever tasted.
This is a bar that could very well be consigned to the realm of ‘special occasion’ drinking. The prices can, it has to be said, reach frightening heights. But with this level of selectivity, the house wines should be treated with the utmost respect. An evening of house wine and small sharing plates would be no more expensive than any number of generic wine bars in the WC postcode. Next time the work day drives you to drink, bear in mind that there is a phenomenal alternative to the standing-room-only confines of many City bars-and that someone has finally made good use of Neal’s Yard.