Uncorked: Joshua Bratt

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

Carousel general manager Joshua Bratt on wine

Related tags Joshua Bratt Carousel Uncorked London Sommelier Wine

The general manager of Fitzrovia‘s Carousel on Black Country Ale, designing a wine pairing for a different chef and menu each week and the Loire’s Domaine du Collier.

Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine
Probably being around my Grandad when I was a teenager. He’s a big whisky man and he definitely taught me how to appreciate drinks in the same way you appreciate food. Looking back I now realise his taste in wine wasn’t as refined as I thought, but the last few times we’ve gone out for father’s day I’ve been able to hit him with some bangers which have been very well received (thanks Emidio Pepe!). More recently, my time at Sager & Wilde opened my mind up to wines from lesser known regions and producers which I hadn’t had the opportunity to get to know in previous roles.

Describe your wine list at Carousel
Tasty all the way through! And nothing too wacky. I feel like the hype days of natural wine are coming to a nadir, when people would happily drink anything cloudy and cider-y because they thought that was what it was about. Although we only list wine which is low intervention, it has to be clean and enjoyable to drink. We try to keep it fairly concise (around 150 references) as the nature of Carousel and the ever-changing guest chef, along with takeovers in the wine bar and events upstairs, mean it can be logistically very tricky to keep on top of a list any bigger.

Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters?
Luckily not really. I received a case of back vintage Raveneau Les Clos (a top Chablis) by mistake a few years back, I guess my disaster was sending it back. Honesty always prevails, though.

Name your top three restaurant wine lists 
Parcelle’s in Paris is literally a shopping list for quality natural wine from France. Noble Rot of course go without saying – I think they don’t get enough credit for their mid-range gems. Obviously you can go and get some incredible Burgundy, but they have such a wide scope of other European bangers at a very reasonable price point. And Prism in Berlin - very extensive but pretty much everything is on Coravin so you can try so much, even Selosse Champagne.

Who do you most respect in the wine world?
There’s so many amazing folk knocking around in London, it’s great going to tastings and seeing there is an unlimited passion for wine in the industry. All of the importers pushing the scene forward (Modal, Roland, Otros Vinos, Vine Trail, Sager, Penzer and the like). They do as much to shape the wine world as the people working on the ground. Got to give a shoutout to my best mate Jake Norman as well (general manager at Bratt’s former employer Trullo). When you’ve got a tasting partner it makes all the difference and I back his palette and judgement to the hills.

What’s the most interesting wine you’ve come across recently?
Skerk’s Glera 18/10 metodo ancestrale IGT. I was lucky enough to try this for the first time at Sandi Skerk’s vineyards in Carso (in north eastern Italy). The winery is literally cut out of the rock and the cellar feels like something out of Lord of the Rings. Made from macerated Glera grapes, aged in barrel and re-fermented with must from the previous vintage. Orange blossom, spices, ripping salinity. The wildest fizz I’ve ever drunk.

What are the three most overused tasting notes?
Fresh, minerality, juicy. I’m definitely guilty of using all of these regularly. 

What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment?
Domaine des 13 Lunes Apremont. Always reach for this white - it’s light, silky and straight up delicious. 100% Jacquere from high-altitude vines near Chartreuse. Definitely punches above its price.

What is your ultimate food and drink match?
The Brummie boy in me says a Black Country Ale with a piping hot bowl of grey peas and bacon. Literally all you need in life.

Old World or New World?
Old World any day. Although I don’t think the Old World will mean much soon with climate change. These classic regions will have to innovate and develop new styles and practices which will be different to what’s come before. 

What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants?
Snobbery. Anyone who works in the wine trade is there only to share knowledge and encourage curiosity. Too often somms still look to withhold this knowledge from guests who aren’t willing to pay top dollar for a bottle.

Who is your favourite producer right now? 
Francois Rousset Martin. I think his wines are up there with the best in the Jura, and an absolute steal when compared to the prices of some of the crazy rares out there. 

As a general manager, what question do you most get asked by customers?
'Who does the wine pairing, is it you or the chef?' One of the best parts about the wine program at Carousel is designing a wine pairing for a different cuisine and menu every week. This has its challenges but allows us to pour a broad range of wines and get creative with finding wine in our cellar which can work well with dishes we won’t see until the first day of the week’s service.

Which wine producing region or country is underrated at the moment?
Hungary. It never gets much airtime but there are so many producers out there who are making amazing value wine. Benzce Birtok’s range is ethereally good. 

It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why?
Domaine du Collier Le Charpentrie Saumur Blanc. When I tried this for the first time it was like eating an apple from The Garden of Eden. GOAT white wine, no food necessary.

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