Uncorked: Bella Babbit

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Bella Babbit wine director NoMad London

Related tags NoMad London Bella Babbit Sommelier Wine Uncorked

The Swedish-born wine director at NoMad London on her Nebbiolo-heavy list, Stockholm’s Cafe Nizza and Coulée de Serrant.

Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine
When I was working as a kitchen server in Stockholm we had a chef’s table which was our responsibility to look after with the sommelier. Lots of different bottles were poured in so many different styles, but I remember very clearly trying Nebbiolo for the first time. I was mesmerised by how simultaneously delicate and powerful it was. I think it was the first time I properly started to understand how wine and food can interact and complement each other. It sparked my interest and has remained a firm favourite ever since. 

Tell us about your wine list at NoMad London
Nebbiolo is the focal point, but the entire list currently sits at about 1,400 references with a mixture of the classics as well as a heavy dose of lesser-known grape varietals and regions such as Caino and Pigato. Our by the glass programme is immense and constantly changing, we currently pour thirty five wines by the glass not including sweet and fortified wines. Another thing which is very important to me is having a big focus on sustainable viticulture and low intervention winemaking both by the glass and bottle.

Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters?
Not any super-expensive mistakes, but I have covered myself and guests in sparkling wine more times than I would like.

Name your top three restaurant wine lists
Noble Rot Soho and Lamb’s Conduit Street (absolutely can’t choose) are firm favourites, the ability to drink wines with age is so rare in this city and there’s always something exciting to choose. Planque (in East London) has a lovely medium sized list with lots of gems from smaller producers and often things I haven’t tried. They also host so many great tastings and events. Cafe Nizza (in Stockholm) always has an incredible range of classics and newer producers. It is simultaneously unpretentious and nerdy, I never go back without stopping by.

What are the three most overused tasting notes?
Mineral, funky and ethereal. I use the last one all the time... 

What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment?
Vinhas Velhas Branco from Folias de Baco punches way above its price point. It’s a field blend of 15 different varietals from Duoro, so not always the easiest wine for a guest to find on their own, but it is so great with so much on our menu and works well on its own too.

What is your ultimate food and drink match? 
Comté and Vin Jaune. It’s a classic for a reason.

Old World or New World?
Old world for sure.

What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants?
Not clearing empty glasses.

Who is your favourite producer at the moment and why? 
I love the wines from Forjas del Salnés, but their caiños, like the Finca Genoveva in particular, really excite me.

As a wine director, what question do you most get asked by customers?
We often get asked what we recommend from the whole list. I think this comes from guests not knowing where to start with the size of the list, but leaves us with a great opportunity to help them figure that out as they’re already open to explore. 

Which wine producing region or country is currently underrated at the moment and why?
I think Savoie is massively overlooked. The value for money in sparkling, white and red wines is immense and the wines are just so delicious. 

It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why?
That is an impossible question, far too many factors to consider - but it would have to be a back vintage of Coulée de Serrant from Nicolas Joly.

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