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Wine talks- 259 Hackney Road: natural wines in London

If you love wine but are tired of Pinot Grigio, Marlborough and Merlot, then head to 259 Hackney Road, one of a handful of independent wine shops in London. I discovered it by a stroke of luck (aka a violent thunderstorm) and have been going back since for the great list of natural wines, pioneered in London by the nice and knowledgeable owners. Their clients range from Michelin- starred Viajante to informal bistro Brawn and Terroirs to backyard gourmet BBQ Burnt Enz,  so they must be doing it right! Read more on my new “coup de foudre”…

259 hackney road wine

When I moved to London, I knew that good wine would have been one of the things I would miss most- if not a wine expert, I definitely am a wine lover and in Italy, generally speaking, wine is fairly cheap and generally of decent quality. I wasn’t expecting much from this side of the Channel, but once again I was surprised. Laugh at my naivety if you want. I realised at some point I must have missed a “wine revolution” of epic proportions if I was now able to find a glass of wine even in the dodgiest pub- although it may be dreadful, unless you’re in a “gastropub” (another revolution I seem to have missed) and in that case it wouldn’t be a dodgy pub anyway.

Surprises, surprises…one thing which hasn’t changed at all though is the British weather. No revolution here. A few weeks ago, after a very good lunch at Brawn ad a stroll on Columbia Market in what looked like a sunny if breezy day, the sky started darkening and in no time a proper washout was upon us. Clearly, I don’t carry an umbrella with me so when the rain hits hard what I do is usually popping into the nearest shop/pub/shack for shelter. That’s exactly how I found the wine shop on 259 Hackney Road. It had been sitting there tempting me for a few months but I had never actually entered it- blame my “will everything be insanely expensive and the salespeople stuffy?” assumption.  Thanks to the sudden rain, I discovered instead a simple and cheerful room, a kind and unpretentious owner who welcomed us with a smile and didn’t seem to acknowledge our semi-drenched state.  My companion being a serious wine geek,  conversation soon drifted on quite technical subjects such as soil acidity in Napa Valley vs. Southern France, soft tannins and the likes. I drifted and started considering the bottles, with their quirky names and stylish labels. An hour or so passed, sipping wine and chatting. Before leaving (clearly with a bottle of wine), whilst signing up for their newsletter I noticed that blogger Katie Parla of Parlafood had been there recently- what a small world ad what a nice surprise! She also wrote a post on 259 Hackney Road which you can read here.

I was really intrigued by the place, and I sensed a story behind the concept of 259 Hackney Road, so I asked for a little interview with the owners and the lovely Milena was so kind to reply to my questions. I hope it’s the first of a series of “wine talks” here on the blog.

TFW. When did you open and what is your background? 

M. We opened the shop in February, Florian and I learned about wine in San Francisco, we were both working in the restaurant industry. Florian’s best mates opened the first natural wine bar in California in San Francisco, we basically learned everything from them. Than it was time for us to go back to Europe. We expected so much from the London wine scene, considering how close it is from wine countries. We arrived in London in 2010, and were shocked by the lack of knowledge in wine, and also couldn’t find the wines that we liked. So we decided to open the shop.

TFW. Can you name a few restaurants and bars you supply in London?

M. At the moment we’re supplying Brawn, Terroirs, Soif, Duck Soup, The Corner Room, Viajante, This Bright Field and this summer we also supplied our friend’s place Burnt Enz- best bbq place!

TFW. Do you have a favourite label (or a specific wine) at the moment- what’s your coup de coeur?

M. Our all time favourite is this “Cornas” by Marcel Juge..It’s a 100% syrah made by an incredible retired man, his production is very small and does everything by hand, which is quite impressive when you see how steep the vineyards are in Cornas. This wine ticks all the boxes, it is extremely elegant, fruity, soft, and melting tannins, you could say it’s like a full bodied pinot noir. It shows amazing skills in craftmanship, very precise, and tradition. This wine really shows how a syrah should be for us.

Thanks Milena and Florian!

I’m definitely curious to learn more about the topic of natural wines (starting from wine blogger Matt Walls post…but mostly drinking them), and will be definitely coming back to 259 Hackney Road for a new bottle to bring to some BYO Vietnamese place, or to one of my beloved London supperclubs. Do you like wine? Do you know of an independent wine shop in London you’d like to see featured? Let me know in the comments…

Funny labels and names for wines (and also some artisanal beers)...spirts and design lovers paradise!

Serena Mariani
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259 Hackney Road wine shop, London
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  1. Love natural wine but so hard to find sometimes I wish I lived in london, do this one does ecommerce?

  2. Sorry for the late reply, Word Press put your comment in spam :( They don’t have an e commerce website that i know, but you can maybe drop them a line at and see if they ship? Hope it helps

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