Melanie Brown can take a little more credit than any other Kiwi living in the UK for the continued success of New Zealand wine in our supermarkets, bars, restaurants and pubs. Her wine bar and merchants in Brixton, the New Zealand Cellar, does exactly what it promises and showcases some of the best New Zealand wines available in the country. Here she shares her average week…
We catch up with Melanie Brown to find out what it is really like running London’s most prestigious wine bar and shop dedicated to New Zealand wine.
Describe your average week.
It mainly centres around our business in Brixton. If we aren’t packing online orders, or dealing with customer queries we’re serving wine at our bar until 10pm.
What was the highlight of your last working week?
Presenting New Zealand wine at the Wine Cellar at The Stafford in St James. Apparently Winston Churchill had meetings in that very room.
And the lowlight of your last working week?
Scrubbing behind the glass-washer in the bar.
What is the best part of your job?
The opportunity I have to impart a sense of discovery. Continuing the New Zealand wine conversation is both regarding and satisfying in equal measure, although niche, particularly in London. New Zealand has a formidable reputation and consequently it is exciting to extend the story
What is the one thing about our job you would like to improve?
How has 2017 been for you and your business?
Exceptional, our online offering has grown tremendously. We picked up the runner up award at the Decanter awards in the New World category, which is a testament to the support and enthusiasm we see.
What are the key trends that are impacting your business and how do you hope to live up to them?
Looking past New Zealand Sauvignon. Sauvignon is our rock star, I love it, however there is so much more to discover. Aromatics are the whites to watch and particularly Albarino. We’re exploring New Zealand’s ability to produce these little gems, and watching the quality improve every year. Our selection is getting more diverse and our offering is becoming more unique. Everyone should get involved.
What is the favourite restaurant you have eaten this year and why?
Naughty Piglets, Brixton. There is nowhere better in South London, end of story.
Favourite bottle of wine you have had in the last month. Why where did you drink it?
A cottage in Devon, an open fire and a bottle 2006 Coche Dury. Heaven.
Favourite cocktail you have had this year. Why and where did you drink it?
Kricket in Soho, Pink Lady (gin, rhubarb and chilli). An amalgamation of weird and wonderful flavours that hit every umami spot. A must try.
If you could pick three people for a classic dinner party from the trade who would they be?
Gareth Birchley, fine wine buyer at BBR, because he’s got an impeccable wine selection and has chat like no-one I’ve ever met. Tim Atkin, to wind Gareth up. Jamie Goode, to supply contentious content for Gareth and Tim. As well as a general soil analysis conversation.
What is the best job you have had in your career?
I have it, although a restaurant would mean it would be my ultimate.