It’s not uncommon for a restaurant to take great pride in their wine list. It’s also not uncommon for those wine lists to be rather special, tailored to the current dishes on the menu and providing diners with an experience like no other.
But what IS uncommon is for the owner of a restaurant to dedicate as much time, effort and pride into the creation of their wine list as La Bandera – efforts that have seen them curate quite possibly one of the city’s best.
What sets the wine list apart from most other places in the city is the passion of owner Yashin, someone who has personally spent the last 4 years travelling to and from Spain, meeting the owners of many independent, family-run wineries and tasting what they have on offer. It’s a hard life eh!?
This passion has seen Yashin create a wine list that is 99% independent and sourced from small wineries throughout the country. The reasons behind this decision are many, primary of which though is… quality.
Yashin is keen to highlight how, by using small wineries, (and as a small, independent business themselves), there is a greater focus on quality as opposed to quantity – always ensuring you’re receiving the utmost best from the producer.
It’s also vitally important that Yashin has personally met almost all of the producers himself, meaning he can get a taste of not just their wines, but also their passion and hard work for what they do.
As a result, the wine list at La Bandera reads like a who’s-who of the top independent wine producers in Spain – and ensures that you can taste some of the greatest wines in the world.
One such wine is the Teso La Monja 2010, which comes in at £1500 per bottle and is (in Yashin’s words); “The best wine EVER to come out of Spain”.
Bold claims there, but there’s a reason behind it all, and a reason why La Bandera has managed to score the ONLY BOTTLE in the UK.
In March this year Yashin personally visited Sierra Cantabria winery in Toro to buy some of their wines. Unbeknown to him – he was about to taste one of the world’s most extraordinary vintages (as well as bag himself a bottle).
The story goes that the small winery needed to expand their vineyards, and as they searched their land for some space they came upon an abandoned area, with the remnants of vines that were pushing 130 years old!
The vines had managed to survive the ‘Great French Wine Blight’ in the mid-19th Century, which saw the destruction of vast swathes of European grapes, and as they started to nurse the vine back to life it slowly but surely began to bear fruit.
Those grapes are what goes into making the Teso La Monja 2010; producing around 5/10 bottles per year (depending on yield), with a waiting list of between 6 months and 3 years for someone to get hold of one.
While visiting, Yashin got on like a house on fire with the owner (who’d kept 2 bottles of the 2010 vintage for himself) and it wasn’t long before he had agreed to sell one to La Bandera. The price might be steep, but if you’re looking for one of the best wines in the world – this one’s for you.
So, it’s clear to see that having such a good relationship with suppliers is beneficial to all, and this is not just reflected in the most expensive end of the menu – it transcends every aspect of the wine list.
Yashin describes his carefully curated wine list as like “going on holiday”. You may have your preferred destination each year, perhaps going to the beach, but there’s SO many other destinations which you can choose – each one giving you a completely different experience.
As such, the wine list acts as a “travel agency” – that offers a range of destinations depending on your mood, tastes or even the food you’re eating.
You’ll find unique wines that you won’t get anywhere else in the city, classic wines, old fashioned wines and typical Spanish wines that you’re familiar with – but are of the highest quality imaginable.
As a final bit of advice from me; if you’re someone who enjoys wine a visit to La Bandera is essential.
Yashin is there every day, and he is a true wine-a-holic who just exudes a true passion for all things grape. A conversation with him will uncover all kinds of wines, regions and flavours which you’ve probably never even thought of or tasted before.
La Bandera, 2 Ridgefield, Manchester M2 6EQ
0161 833 9019