Saltpeter Wines in Woodbridge is opening a bar

OK, so the weather probably has a lot to do with it, but there’s also that vibe. That laid-back, relaxed vibe with no airs and graces that is truly hard to replicate outside of the side streets of Spain, Italy, Portugal and the family watering holes of France.

It feels like everyone is welcome in these places. That you don’t have to dress perfectly. Everyone is there to be sociable and share the fruits of the local producers’ labor – whether it’s a bottle of red from a vineyard in the valley opposite or a plate of shavings of cheese and charcuterie.

East Anglian Daily Times: Enjoy a glass of natural wine at Saltpeter WinesEnjoy a glass of natural wine at Saltpeter Wines (Photo: Charlotte Bond)

David Jimenez Fernandez and his partner Maddie Bryet have aspired to bring that experience to their Suffolk boutique, Saltpeter Wines, since it opened at the height of Covid at the end of 2020.

And now they’re thrilled to be able to live out their dreams, bringing a small-scale bodega-style experience to the Woodbridge premises, where up to 12 people at a time can book their bar for a few hours from Thursday to Saturday, enjoying carefully chosen glasses of wine, accompanied by tapas and plates to share.

“We always like to visit these kinds of bars when we travel to Europe,” says David. “Wine bars are so simple. You walk in, grab a bottle from the shelf and bring it to the bar to drink. We really like this idea. Wine tasting with very good meats and cheeses… and music – we have a record player here with music playing all the time.

At Saltpeter, guests are not limited to one bottle. David and Maddie, both passionate about natural wine (it’s the shop’s specialty), actively encourage everyone to sample a few by the glass, to appreciate the breadth of variety that exists in this ever-popular area. of winemaking.

East Anglian Daily Times: Inside Saltpeter WinesInside the saltpetre wines (Photo: Charlotte Bond)

To soak up the booze, the couple offers a small, simple menu. Spanish croquetas or tortillas, Spanish tuna and cheese toasties, salads and marinated mussels. “I know a family in Spain, who makes great charcuterie in the Iberian region. It’s very different from anything here, so we have that too. And a mixture of cheeses. Local, from France and some from Spain as well.

“It’s a very nice experience that we can offer here.”

David worked in the wine industry in Spain and London wine bars for over 20 years before settling in Suffolk with Ipswich-born Maddie, who worked with one of the largest importers of natural wine from the country “before it was even a fashionable thing”. ”.

“We both have a small-production, low-interaction, chemical-free, local wine, and when we arrived it was not widely available in the county. We love these wines and the winegrowers’ approach to what they do. That’s why we decided to open here.

David claims that up to 300 chemicals can legally be added to wine to enhance its flavor – without being listed on labels. It’s a process, he explains, that takes place mostly in large mass production where every bottle of wine has to taste the same to the consumer.

East Anglian Daily Times: David at Saltpeter WinesDavid at Saltpeter Wines (Photo: Charlotte Bond)

He eschews them, saying they have less personality and energy than landrace varieties, which are gaining popularity around the world, with more New World growers going back to basics.

“People are now more open-minded about natural wine. I read an article the other day by Jancis Robinson, the god of wine, and she was saying that even in places like Bordeaux, which are known for their big wine houses, they’re trying to make more varieties of natural wine and less conventional. It’s more interesting. It’s spreading. And the wine industry is changing.

“There is a revolution right now. Many young winemakers in their twenties and thirties have gained fantastic knowledge in the wine industry and have returned to their countries to try the new approach to natural wine. They experiment with hundreds of varieties of grapes.

David says we can get caught up in a bit of snobbery when it comes to choosing younger wines, which landraces tend to be.

“People seem to prefer overripe or overly oaky wines or aged wines. But only 5% of wines improve with age. In others, you lose the grape expression. Young, natural wines give more depth of flavor to me and are much more interesting.

East Anglian Daily Times: Natural wine is gaining popularityNatural wine is gaining popularity (Photo: Charlotte Bond)

Choosing wine from small producers who care about their terroir really translates to tasting, says David, who explains that everything from the grape to the unique weather to the soil affects the taste of each batch – and that these unique and magical properties can never be replicated on a very large scale.

Some of her current favorites, available to bar-goers, include red and white wines made by a 30-year-old winemaker in Italy’s Veneto region. “We went for a tasting of his wines and the concentrated flavors were amazing. Roccolo di Monticelli’s red is “packed with a depth of red and black fruits with a little white pepper. It’s amazing. It does not use sulfur or chemicals. There is a lot of expression in this wine.

“We also have good Savoie wine – the clay we have has a complex flavor. Lots of minerals with stone fruit, some acidity and freshness. It’s very very round with a subtle smoke. The flavors keep coming as you drink through the bottle.

David also gives a nod to some very fruity natural white wines made in Malaga. He and Maddie enjoy sharing their knowledge of wine…and will be running the bar ready to pass on their wisdom.

The shop is open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. To reserve a seat at the bar (until 10pm Thursday-Saturday), call 01394 447983 or contact us on social media via Facebook or Instagram.

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