Monday, 23 February 2015

Bar Buvette: Bristol's Natural Wine Bar

How is it that we’ve got to Monday again already? The weekends seem to be ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ these days. But to ease you in, and to make you think about some delicious day trips and exciting excursions that you could plan, I’ve got just the ticket.

Bristol. We’re all familiar with it, right? It’s the ‘gert lush’ South Western city that’s populated with all the cool kids, has a handful of Banksy’s gracing it's streets, and lots of lovely landmarks that you probably recognise from Channel 4’s ‘Skins’. 

Well, it has a new pop up joint. Okay, it’s not that new – it’s been open since December – and it’s not even necessarily just a pop up, it might be more of a permanent thing... But anyway, Bar Buvette is its name, and it’s all about natural wines.

Natural wines, with statuses like 'organic' and 'biodynamic', can be a pretty controversial topic to many oenophiles. Some flippin’ love them (the Parisians are particularly fond of them at the moment), but others don’t want to give them the time of day.

 Made without the addition of preservatives, chemicals, artificial yeasts and added sugars, with the majority of them either low in, or free from sulphites too, some wine snobs just aren’t into this eco-chic shizzle.

Sure, the wines can be a little unusual to say the least; the whites richer in colour, the reds lighter in style, some cloudy, and some with crazy flavour profiles (I had a red wine which reminded me of salami!).

But isn’t that the point of visiting places such as this? It’s something that you probably won’t find elsewhere, and you can’t knock it until you’ve tried it; so when in Rome and all that...

Bar Buvette is the city centre lovechild of Peter Taylor, formally of Bristol’s Riverstation. Last year he took the plunge to relocate his family to a petite village in the Auvergne to run a seasonal Frenchie boutique hotel, Auberge de Chassignolles.

Here he grows his own vegetables and rears his own pigs for consumption in the restaurant – sounds idyllic, huh – and he also serves a number of natural wines from the region. With the hotel closed for the winter, Peter’s brought a snippet of France back to Bristol for a few months (or maybe more...).

The idea of a pop-up can often be pretty low-fi, but Bar Buvette has nailed it in kitting out Baldwin Street’s ex-photography shop; giant reclaimed wood tables with stools to schmooze on, shelves of bottles and books, retro wine posters, an old bike, and handwritten chalk board menus to gaze at. Simple but effective. 

There are about 10 wines by the glass to try at any one time, with additional ‘featured producer’ bottles/magnums open and ready to be poured. The salami-esque red that I went for was Alain Castex’s Poudre d'Escampette 2013, £7.50 per glass from a magnum.

The thing to note about the somewhat testing au naturelle wines is that they really come to life when paired with food. Despite not having a kitchen, Bar Buvette offers exactly that; cheese and charcuterie boards (£4.00) – with hefty jars of gherkins ready and waiting on every table – freshly prepared salads, and the meanest cheese toasties around (£4.50).

Made using sourdough from Bristolian Hart’s Bakery, the molten innards were a mixture of local Cheddar, French Cantal and Comté, with chopped leeks and Dijon mustard thrown in for good measure. Just... yes.

And they also have things to satisfy your sweet tooth; a flourless chocolate, almond and cardamom cake was on offer when I visited.

So have I made you want to go and try it for yourself? I do hope so. Peter's knowledge and enthusiasm will help you find a glass of wine that's perfect for you. What more could you ask for? 

Follow on Twitter @BuvetteBristol or Instagram @barbuvette for the latest updates, and let’s keep our fingers crossed that it’ll be a more permanent fixture on the Brizzle scene.

For other wonderful wine-y venues in Bristol, check out:


  1. Really like the sound of these natural wines! I must try when I'm next in Bristol. Thanks for the info.x

    1. Thanks, Roseann! There's a really interesting Natural Wine fair called RAW in London around May-time as well - I'd recommend it if you're interested in tasting some more natural wines from around the world. :-)
      There's also a very yummy chocolate masterclass run by Paul A Young at the event most years... ;-)