Neil Sowerby gets the pick of the list from Kim McBride Sommelier, erst, Ancoats
Kim is 29, from North Manchester. In 2012 she began working part-time at Sam’s Chop House with Manchester’s best-loved sommelier, George Bergier. Before that, she also worked at Aumbry restaurant in Prestwich, where she became assistant manager, further developing her love for wine. She then managed Oddbins in Chorlton and for three years was general manager at Salut Wines before joining the new Trove offshoot, erst earlier this year.
What say do you have in choosing the wine list?
I worked with manager Will to put together a list which complements our menu and pushes the boundaries a bit. Our by-the-glass list is constantly changing, wines you can’t try anywhere else in Manchester. Our bottle list is a permanent work-in-progress. When we choose a wine we want to know where it’s from, as in: is it true to the terroir? We choose wines that are organic, biodynamic or minimal intervention. That doesn’t mean all of our wines are cloudy and taste like cider; we list a mix of classics and more experimental ones.
There are a lot of wines out there which use the term ’natural’ in order to cover up the fact that they are just faulty
In a changing wine world which are the up and coming regions? What is best value?
I recently went to Greece. I’ve always loved Greek wine for its value, particularly the whites, like crisp, saline Assyrtiko, but I was surprised at how well their wines age. On the list at erst we have the Markowitis Xinomavro from 1999, which reminds me of aged Nebbiolo but at a fraction of the price. In a Greek wine bar I also tasted a 1995 Canava Roussos Nykteri Assyrtiko and it had aged beautifully. It was buttery and nutty with incredible acidity. Also, if you look to the Loire for wines other than Sauvignon Blanc you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the value; look for Cab Franc or aged Coteaux du Layon sweet wine.
Natural and orange wines are increasingly high profile. What are your feelings about them?
I like to try something different and I’ve had a lot of lovely skin contact whites. The Beast Verdelho, for instance, is one of the most elegant wines I’ve tasted. I am also aware that there are a lot of wines out there which use the term ’natural’ in order to cover up the fact that they are just faulty. I’m glad that the natural wine revolution has got people asking about the provenance of their wine but we need to remember that ’natural’ is not a classification, there are no rules. Judge each bottle on its own merit.
It’s said women have better palates than men. Is that the case?
I read a book recently called Cork Dork by Bianca Bosker. While training for an exam she did all sorts to train her palate. Unfortunately it turns out that the only way to train your palate is to taste, A LOT. So no, I don’t believe that women have better palates. It is scientifically proven that certain people are 'super-tasters’ but even that doesn’t mean that you can instantly tell a Sauvignon from a Gruner Veltliner in a blind tasting. That takes work.
From erst’s list recommend a wine at entry level
Radford Dale Thirst Cinsault 2017 (£30 - pictured above, also by the glass) is a carbonic Cinsault from Stellenbosch in South Africa. We serve it slightly chilled and it’s what we call 'breakfast wine’; it’s incredibly light with juicy blue and blackberry flavours. A proper sunny day wine.
Hit us with your best from the top end
It’s new to our skin-contact section; the Chateau de Beru Deci Dela Amphora Pinot Gris (£100). This wine is classified as AOC Bourgogne Rosé, made from fruit sourced just north of Chablis. It is unfiltered and has a hazy, rose gold appearance. It has zippy white grapefruit acidity and a wonderful texture with a hint of tannins. It is floral and brioche-y. We are so excited that we might have to sneak it on to the by-the-glass menu.
Name one less familiar wine you’d urge guests to try from the list.
A lot of our wines are less familiar but, if I had to choose one, I’d recommend Geyer Wine Co Rosé (£50, also by the glass. It’s a blend of Cinsault, Pinot Meunier and Grenache from Barossa, unfiltered, minimal intervention. It’s more like a light red than a rosé. If you want to try something a bit mad, that definitely ticks the box.
What’s your favourite grape?
Riesling. Always has been. It’s had a bit of a bad rep thanks to wines like Blue Nun but some of the best wines in the world are Riesling. It’s so versatile, producing wines which are bone dry with incredible acidity in the New World and more opulent, sweeter styles, like those from the Mosel in Germany.
Your favourite food and wine match?
We used to serve Andreas Bender Auslese Riesling with the rhubarb crumble with buttermilk sorbet and that was magical; the wine was so light and fresh it tasted like sherbet next to the rhubarb. We’ve just swapped the crumble for an Earl Grey pannacotta ,which we’ve paired with a Pineau des Charentes. Hopefully it might get more people to drink Pineau des Charentes (a blend of one-quarter Cognac to three-quarters freshly squeezed grape juice).
Your most inspirational influence?
Obviously it’s got to be HRH Jancis Robinson!
Erst, 9 Murray St, Manchester M4 5BN
Next time: Meet Isabelle Lynch, Assistant head sommelier, restaurant MCR