The central debate in East London at the moment is around the contribution of the newly completed Westfield. On one side we have those who view it as a temple of Mammon and consumerist nightmare which has destroyed ‘indigenous’ businesses and eroded communities. On the other side are those who see it as a positive force for regeneration and employment in an area defined by deprivation. I guess there are also those who have concluded it is just a bloody great shopping centre.
The oft repeated statistics are impressive. The biggest of its kind in Europe, 10,000 jobs created etc. Lots of thought has gone in to making the investment pay off. Architects know how to stimulate spending and from the moment you enter the environment is cuing you into the retail opportunities. Having now visited a few times I thought it might be useful to focus on wine at Westfield.
The obvious place to start is with an overview of those places that sell wine in the complex. Of the 6 listed bars two are for juice of the unfermented kind (Boost and Zumo). The other 4 are TGI Fridays (yawn) , Tap East (a ‘pub’ run by the Utobeer team who also run The Rake in Southwark near Borough Market), The Cow (another ‘pub’ from Geronimo Inns) and, the most upmarket venue, Searcy’s Champagne Bar.
There are also over seventy restaurants in the complex, the majority of which sell wine. Many are familiar outlets such as Giraffe and Eat but others such as Busaba Eathai and Wahaca might be a bit more exciting for East end foodies. There are decent wines to be found in many of the restaurants, from the Spy Valley Pinot Gris at Balans to Ridgeview Estate ‘Cavendish’ Vintage 08 Sussex at Bumpkin. Of course there are rivers of cocktails and oceans of beer too.
The main turnover of wine is likely to be at the huge Waitrose and Marks and Spencer which ‘anchor’ Westfield. Both have really strong wine credentials and it will be good to browse their stock over coming months. I can already vouch for the Herbert Beaufort, Carte Or, Brut Tradition, Bouzy Grand Cru NV £30 which won a regional trophy in the Non vintage Champagne over £10 category. A really elegant Pinot Noir dominated Champagne, maybe too lean for some but right up my street and I have put down a few for the Festive period. Another from M and S is the consistently good Secano Sauvignon Gris 2010 from the Leyda Valley £8.49 pictured left made by Vivianna Navarrette. This knocks spots off many whites costing double (as does the Champagne above). Very pale with a lovely floral nose. Lots of obvious grassy notes and refreshing acidity. Limes and elderflower but also a depth and minerality that mark it out. A fringe grape in the right terroir and the hands of someone skilled using lees not oak resulting in a really good affordable white. Both are discounted slightly in cases of 6.
Westfield’s Stratford City website is here