Vagabond is a chain of seven (soon to be eight) wine bars in London offering a wide selection of wines served from Enomatic machines. The idea isn’t a new one – it was pioneered in the capital several years back by merchant The Sampler, but that is primarily a wine shop, not a bar. It’s also a concept that has been adopted by the Wine Rooms (Kensington and Brackenbury) to good effect. Still, it’s nice to see Vagabond opening up this concept to a wider audience: it helps make interesting wine accessible to non-informed consumers. [They also have an urban winery in Battersea.]
So how does it work? You get a card and put some money on it (it’s refundable if you don’t spend it all). Then you go to one of the machines and stick it in, and then select your wine, and your pour size. You can have just a taste, or you can have a full glass. You can, of course, order a bottle, and Vagabond is also a wine merchant and you can buy at a reduced price to take away. There’s food, too: it’s pretty solid small-plates style. Not fancy, but good.
I visited the Paddington location and tasted through some of the wines. The selection is pretty good, and I found plenty to interest me. One of the nice touches is that above each wine there’s a small sheet with an introduction to the wine explaining what it is, with some technical details: you can take this away with you.
Zarate Balado 2018 Rias Baixas, Spain
Old vine Albariño. Taut, mineral and linear with a nice citrus drive and some richer apricot and spice notes. Very fine with nice tension. 93/100
Juan Antonio Ponce Reto 2018 Manchuela, Spain
This is Albilla de Manchuela. Rounded and textural with some nuts and citrus. Has a savoury, mineral dimension. 92/100
Château Plaisance Fronton Serr da Beg 2018 France
12.5% alcohol. This is a varietal Negrette from southwest France and it has no added sulphites. Floral and juicy with lovely raspberry and black cherry fruit, and notes of blood and meat. Fresh with some graphite and chalk notes. Fine and elegant. 93/100
Savage Thief in the Night 2018 Piekeneerskloof, South Africa
Grenache, Syrah and Cinsault. Very elegant and fine. Bright with sweet cherry and plum fruit. Such elegance and purity with supple, sweet fruit. 94/100
Julien Sunier Morgon 2017 Beaujolais, France
Grippy and nicely grainy with nice green hints. Red cherries, spice. Structured but still with elegance. 93/100
Guy Breton Beaujolais Nouveau Fonchon 2019 France
12% alcohol. This is juicy, supple and rounded with nice elegance. Sweet and softly textured with such lightness and purity. Infusion style with very low extraction. 93/100