At Elite Fine Wines we’re always on the lookout for exciting new wine bars in the capital city and one that recently came to our attention was the Hackney situated wine bar and restaurant Legs.
With a seasonal food menu that changes by the day and a wine menu that focuses on small independent producers, Legs is everything a modern wine bar should be and more.
We caught up with Lily Brown, the wine manager, to find out more.
EFW: Thanks so much for agreeing to have a chat with us, how's 2018 treating the team at Legs?
L: Thanks so much for inviting me! A new year is always an exciting prospect, we come back rested from a well deserved break and the team is excited as to what 2018 is going to throw at us!
EFW: There seems to be a new wave of wine bars such as yourselves that prioritise small independent producers, what do you think the catalyst for this has been?
L: Possibly an aspect is to do with the fact that, as a generation, we care more about what we are putting in our body, and we want to think we are living a healthier, more fulfilled lifestyle.
We want organic, we want ethically, locally farmed, we want to know where our food has come from. We are moving away from mass produced, over farmed produce, so naturally why wouldn’t we do the same when it comes to what we drink? Its about the independent, not the chain.
There is a strong desire for narrative, wanting to learn something, gain knowledge in a product, we want to connect. I think this is a wide consumer trend.
“It's about the independent, not the chain.”
EFW: It seems that often the smaller independent wine producers come with some great stories. Have you got any that spring to mind?
L: It is an amazing and important thing having the opportunity to meet the wine makers- it automatically gives the wine a personality, you have a deeper relationship and understanding of that wine. Whether it be an ex-punk-rocker-turn-wine-maker, or a wine that is a result of a very poor yield due to hail, production in an old bike shed, whatever the story, it's so important for that to be told.
It is such a rewarding thing passing on their story to someone about to drink literally the fruits of their labour. Some people question the price of some of the wine on our list, but once you open a dialogue, and they have an understanding of the sheer amount of work that goes in to providing you with that delicious bottle of wine (e.g. 1 of only 500 bottles made, singularly by 1 woman in the south of France with a new born!) suddenly the appreciation that it deserves is realised.
EFW: How do you go about selecting wines for your menu and does the fact that your food menu changes on a daily basis play a part in this process?
L: It doesn’t directly play a part but both the food and wine menu are ever changing/evolving, the seasons of course play a part in both.
I have certain producers that I go to time and time again, but ultimately (selfishly) it’s the wine I like to drink. As a team it is also important for everyone to taste (FOH, Kitchen, KP) opening a dialogue, hearing their opinion, these are all aspects that influence the list.
It is, of course (boringly) also about having a list with options to cover most tastes/occasions/price points etc. and importantly its also about listening to customers- and they are often very specific – “I want a big boy white, with chalky tannins and high acidity” I’m like shit, I don’t have exactly that and that’s what I'll look for next.
EFW: Is there anything about the wine industry that you’d like to see change?
L: There are many. One thing to comment on- I think in terms of production, importation and our fast consuming generation- is that I often think new wine is being rushed to be released. I have recently tasted some new vintages that are just not ready and could do wonderfully being sat on for a couple of years. I don’t quite know who is to blame- the producers- Is the demand too high that they are forced to release too early? Is it the importers putting them under pressure? Unfortunately being a small 26 seater restaurant we don’t have the space to have a small ageing cellar in the basement that is my office!
Sadly I fear Brexit will be changing the wine industry in a whole way none of us would like to see.
EFW: You describe the design of Legs as “light, organic and casual,” was this created with the wine drinker in mind?
L: I’m sure it did have some influence. Legs was originally going to be a wine shop.
The atmosphere we strive to create is a laid back, casual environment, a space to eat food and drink nice wine, drink nice wine and eat great food- where everyone is welcome.
EFW: So what characteristics do you think sum up today’s modern wine drinker?
L: Hmm . . . the characteristics I would LIKE to think the modern wine drinker has- openness to try new things, an interest in story and place, they look beyond the price point. Today’s modern wine drinker is from every walk of life.
EFW: If you were going to pick one bottle of wine from your current list to impress someone, what would you choose?
L: Hmmm tricky, Aldo Viola’s ‘Krimiso’ 5 month skin contact Catarratto from Sicily. With no pressing he only uses the free run juice (around only 40% of the juice produced from each bunch) resulting in an incredibly deep, rich, skin macerated white wine without the often rough tannic expression that is associated with a wine in contact with the skins for so long.
Aldo Viola is also just a wild, interesting character that it’s a joy selling his wine and telling his story.
“Today’s modern wine drinker is from every walk of life. ”
EFW: When you’re not at Legs what other wine bars around London can you be found enjoying a drink in?
L: P Franco- our usual dangerous Sunday haunt, or Brilliant Corners as it’s a stones throw away from home.
EFW: Thanks so much for taking the time out to speak to us, we hope our readers enjoy as much as we did!