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South African Cuisine in the heart of London
Vivat Bacchus in Farringdon is Londons premiere destination for South African food. Open since 2003, the restaurant has grown from strength to strength, expanding four years ago with a new restaurant in London Bridge.
With a menu boasting zebra steak, springbok burgers, and mouth-watering South African platters, Vivat offers a collection of unique dishes, both European and Africa, a wide choice of delicious tapas-style platters and some of the finest wine the World has to offer. With its own cheese room, live jazz nights and 10,000 bottle strong wine cellar; Vivat Bacchus certainly has something to offer.
With the restaurant running a yearly South African wine festival, in May, Vivat Bacchus is keen to boast the tastes of South Africa. We chatted to the restaurants resident sommelier, Laura Ward, about the growing market of South African wine, Nelson Mandela and Vivat’s passion for wine.
How many types, and bottles, of wine do you have in your cellar?
We’ve got about 1000 different bins and 10,000 bottles of individual wines.
Why is South African wine becoming more and more popular?
South Africa comes under the term “New World,” and people are discovering that these wines often offer more value than the traditional French wines. A lot of people who have visited South Africa, have got a feel for how amazing and unique the wine scene out there is, and for many people it is an eye opener that there is a lot more to the New World wines than New Zealand and Australia.
A lot of our customers feel they’ve discovered a real gem with South African wine, and love to come here and talk to us about the producers. They feel they can rediscover here what they’ve found in South Africa.
Is South African wine good value for money?
The wine is good value and has a unique modern style. We do take South African wine seriously; one of our vintage collections is from 1994 but they never get as expensive as those traditional French wines.
If you could recommend a South African wine, which one would you recommend?
I love South Africa’s “Chenin Blanc” – although it originates from Loire, France, the South Africans have really made it their own. People have been very experimental with the wine and it’s become South Africa’s signature grape.
The restaurant shares something in common with Nelson Mandela, what is that?
We have a lot of many respected South African wine makers and within that, we have a couple of wines, that were chosen by Nelson Mandela to be served at his birthday party, as well as Barack Obama’s inauguration.
We’ve got the exact vintage that was served at Nelson Mandela’s birthday party which sells for £300, which is a 2000 bottle. We do collect South African wines from specific periods of time.
What’s the price range for South African wine?
Our first entry price is £16.50, but we’ve got around the £30-40 mark, with many premium wines costing around £60.
Prices for South African wines vary greatly, from cheaper wines from big brands to more expensive wines from boutique producers. But it is still possible to find great wines at the lower end of the scale, and even the cheapest wines on our list have won medals and gained high scores from wine critics.
For more information visit: www.vivatbacchus.co.uk
The stereotype of Africa is not its reality. It’s a growing continent and I’ll be writing about the exciting changes that are happening everyday.
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