Uncorked: James Pritchard

By Joe Lutrario

- Last updated on GMT

James Pritchard restaurant manager at Silo restaurant East London

Related tags James Pritchard Uncorked Silo London Wine

The restaurant manager at East London’s Silo on Liguria-based winery Selvadolce, the problem with the term ‘funky’ and turning his old wine bottles into plates.

Tell us about the moment you first became interested in wine
I really honed in on my interest in wine during my first managerial job at a family run Italian restaurant called La Strada in Bournemouth. I was lucky to be exposed to a huge variety of Italian wines and had the opportunity to really understand how regional foods interact with well-paired bottles.

Describe your wine list at Silo
The wine list at Silo is constantly evolving. We work predominantly with small, low intervention winemakers who have a strong sense of what they are expressing. It’s really important for our wines to all have a personality that matches the ethos of the restaurant.

Over the course of your career, have you had any wine-related disasters? 
Opening four bottles of Barolo - which at the time was the most expensive wine on the list - one after the other, all with the same fault in the make of the bottle. I was young, quite green and a bit nervous - every bottle was just showing the same fault right in the middle of a very busy service, it made me panic. 

Name your top three restaurant wine lists
Apricity, Brawn and The Sea, The Sea (all in London). 

Who do you most respect in the wine world?
I really look up to winemakers who have a strong sense of themselves and their terroir. Aris Biancardi at Selvadolce in Liguria or Paola Riccio from Alepa Winery in Campania are just two examples of winemakers who have demonstrated this in a really impressive way.

What’s the most interesting wine you’ve come across recently?
Selavdolce wines from Liguria - they’re really something else! Aris Blancardi is really making unique wines where his sense of identity and terroir are so unique, they embrace the universal. A lot of winemakers are feeling such freedom to express themselves these days, it’s a really exciting time.

What are the three most overused tasting notes?

Funky. What does that actually indicate? There are so many other more specific words that are better used instead.

What’s the best value wine on your list at the moment?
The Glintzberg Riesling by Roland Schmitt we have by the glass at the moment - it’s the perfect example of a good Riesling at a low price (it doesn’t always have to break the bank).

What is your ultimate food and drink match?
It’s classic and one I can’t afford myself, but Vin Jaune with aged Comté is out of this world.

Old World or New World?
One world. Although we tend to work with Old World wines at Silo, there is so much exciting stuff going on around the world that I don’t feel it’s a choice we should have to make.

What is your pet hate when it comes to wine service in other restaurants?
I think it’s important for the guest to feel comfortable with the selection process as wine lists can often be quite intimidating. It’s all about helping your guests and supporting them whilst they narrow down their choices. If you don’t make an effort to help demystify the wine list in an accessible way, it’s not great form.

Who is your favourite producer right now?
I really enjoyed Elodie Jaume’s first wine (from the Rhone) and think she is definitely one to watch.

As a restaurant manager what question do you most get asked by customers?
I get asked a lot what we do with the waste from the bottles and I am always happy to say we turn them into plates, or lampshades for the restaurant. We have an elaborate bottle crushing machine that’s a really important part of our closed-loop dining experience.

Which wine producing region or country is underrated at the moment?
There are more and more amazing things going on in the wine world that need to be explored and discovered. I don’t have a particular region in mind, but I think being curious about new developments is underrated. We should be hungry to learn all the time.

It’s your last meal and you can have a bottle of any wine in the world. What is it and why?
An obvious answer would be to drink one of those bottles that we can only dream of trying, but the real answer is just a bottle I can share with someone I love.

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