A Wine Expert Shares Her Favourite Bottles, Vineyards & Bars
A Wine Expert Shares Her Favourite Bottles, Vineyards & Bars

A Wine Expert Shares Her Favourite Bottles, Vineyards & Bars

Pip Dawes started a fine wine company with her husband back in 2008, but it was the launch of their second business Marlo Wines – the delivery and subscription service that makes wine more accessible – that really put them on the map. From vintage classics to affordable everyday wines, we asked Pip shares her favourite bottles and places to drink them…
By Sherri Andrew

The first type of wine I can remember enjoying was champagne. As a young adult, you drink it a lot with friends as a special treat. Champagne is great a gateway into fine wines because if you try enough of them you get to know which ones you really don’t like and suddenly, you’re developing a palette of your own. I particularly like old champagne which makes me very excited. It loses some fizz, goes a bit syrupy and smells like crème brûlée. Delicious and a huge treat for a big celebration. 

My journey into the world of wine was an accident. When I had children, I couldn’t return to my old job because the hours didn’t work. My husband had been working in the industry as a fine wine trader for many years, so I’d started helping out. We often discussed ways in which we could make fine wines more accessible and less of an ‘old boys club’. So, I signed up to a diploma in social media with Digital Mums, we worked on a website together and launched Marlo in February 2020. 

My taste in wine is always changing. However, I always want a good riesling with Japanese food – something like JJ Prum served straight from the fridge. My go-to drink with friends is a white burgundy or a Californian chardonnay like Wild Boy. It all depends on the occasion and what we’re eating or doing. It’s fun to pair a wine to the occasion, a bit like choosing your accessories for an outfit. I also love Dom Perignon. I love how it ages and always feels cool to pop open at a celebration. The brand is constantly evolving and collaborating with people like Lady Gaga and Andy Warhol. 

For a dinner party, I’d bring a bottle of fizz like Pol Roger NV Brut White Foil or a decent red. You also can’t go wrong with a claret Bordeaux which is a crowd pleaser that works with lots of food. White is much harder to get right, people are much pickier, so champagne is a good alternative. At home, we love to entertain on Sundays with friends. We’d probably start with champagne; we’ve got some interesting grower champagnes so that’s a good opportunity to try them out. We’d then offer a white burgundy such Marc Colin’s Bourgogne Chardonnay followed by our current favourite, Vincent Paris Cornas which is from the Northern Rhone. We might finish with some delicious shots of something to lower the tone which we definitely regret in the morning! 

On a chilled evening at home, I might have a gin and tonic or share a bottle of wine with my husband that we’ve been sent to try. We only list wines that we actually like and would recommend so it’s important to keep trying. Sometimes the wines are total disasters and other times it’s a great surprise. For a girls’ night, it has to be porn star martinis. Or margaritas which are my absolute favourite.

I love SELLARDORE ROSÉ, made by the Chase family (famed for Tyrells crisps). It’s SUPER PALE AND DRY and drinks a bit too well.

There’s nothing better than ice-cold rosé on a warm day. I love Sellardore Rosé, made by the Chase family (famed for Tyrells crisps). It’s super pale and dry and drinks a bit too well. It’s also a great price comes from a small production winery which is always nice to support. We’ve also got some amazing rosé wines from Chateau Galoupet which are interesting. The wine maker, who happens to be a woman, is making some serious wines to pair with food, as opposed to the typical rosé that we have become accustomed to, which is less complex. She’s also hot on bottling in a sustainable way. Another favourite is Babylonstoren Rosé which sponsored last year’s Chelsea Flower Show. It’s from South Africa so it’s a bit different to provincial rosé but it’s every bit as delicious. 

One new bottle I’m loving is La Cappelletta Portofino. It’s the only wine made in Portofino and you can usually only taste it when dining in one of the illustrious restaurants by the harbour. It’s a vermentino and incredibly mineral so it’s perfect in the summer with seafood. The owner, who had no wine making experience, restored old vines and reimagined this idyllic vineyard on the hillside at Portofino. The wine is quickly gaining a reputation as a serious Italian white.

The most memorable bottle I’ve had was during lockdown when we had Christmas alone. I was sad we weren’t with our family in Herefordshire, and I was trying to cook this ridiculous turkey and all of the extras that no one wanted to eat. Then, midway through the morning, we opened a magnum of 2017 Jean-Claude Ramonet Chassagne-Montrachet Cru Ruchottes (a fantastic white burgundy) and I honestly thought it was the most delicious thing I’d ever tasted. Buttery nectar. I’m not quite sure how the turkey got cooked, but the wine certainly cheered up what was a strange day.  

One affordable bottle I rate is Croix Mouton 2016. It’s a classic vintage from Bordeaux and at £16.99, it’s serious bang for its buck. At the other end of the scale, I’d always splurge on champagne. A 1996 is a real investment but that kind of vintage is priceless. 

It’s exciting to watch English sparkling wines develop. We recently tried a single vintage Nyetimber that was ten years old which was fascinating. It had lost some acidity and tartness and had become smooth and creamy – it was a great example of how well English wines can age. Rathfinny is making some great wines as is Wiston Estate. It’s important to visit some the vineyards and learn about what they do. The French have invested heavily in our southern coastline, so they clearly see great potential. 

In the city, Enoteca Da Luca has an awesome Italian wine list. It’s only open Monday to Friday but it’s well worth a visit for a couple of glasses after work. Otherwise Noble Rot on Lambs Conduit Street is the ultimate wine bar experience. We live in Wimbledon, so Hemingways is another favourite. If we’re not trying wines from our own site, we love to pop to independent wine shops. We were recently in Bath and discovered some awesome wine shops. 

For a fun date, I love Tooting Market. It’s full of up-and-coming chefs and foodie concepts. There are copious cocktail and wine bars and even a mini gin distillery. I think I’d start with sushi and move to tacos. It’s such a fun place. Kids equal zero chilled weekends, but we often head to a park for fresh air and good coffee. We love hiring bikes at Hyde Park or looking for Wombles on Wimbledon Common, followed by a stroll around the farmers market in the village. It typically also involves a roast and a glass of red. 

In the city, ENOTECA DA LUCA has an AWESOME ITALIAN WINE LIST. It’s only open Monday to Friday but it’s well worth a visit for a COUPLE OF GLASSES AFTER WORK.

One restaurant with a fantastic wine list is Oswald’s in Mayfair. Don’t hesitate if you’re lucky enough to visit with a member. Otherwise Medlar on the New Kings Road and Trinity are very wine friendly and always offer excellent value. Likewise, Hunan on the Pimlico Road has an awesome list – Michael Peng couldn’t be more brilliant, he’s a legend amongst the wine trade.

Santa Barbara is producing some really exciting bottles. Some of my favourites are from a vineyard called Sanguis Winery. These are serious wines and quite out there, but incredibly delicious and relatively unknown. They also pair each wine with a piece of music which is a lovely touch. 

Over in France, Bordeaux is a pretty fun place to visit. The vineyards are spectacular and there are so many to visit in one relatively small area. We had our baby moon at Les Sources de Caudalie, home to Smith haut-Lafitte. I’ll always treasure this vineyard.

If you’re keen to get into wine, start with something that appeals to you individually. If you have a personal interest in a region or a grape, try and taste as many bottles as you can. Start thinking about whether you like it and why it’s different. It’s more about building a picture around what you like than what you should like. Wine, like art, is subjective, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t like what your friend likes. Try lots of different wines, read reviews in newspapers. It’s often good to try wines that match the foods that you like. Essentially there’s no one place to start, more that you shouldn’t feel overwhelmed, just like what you like and experiment. 

We launched Marlo as a way of making fine wines accessible via an online platform and available by the bottle. Typically, fine wines are sold by merchants in cases of six or 12 which makes it hard to access if you only want to try a bottle and experiment. We went live just before Covid struck and we were slightly amazed at the quick success of Marlo. People wanted nice wines delivered to their door and they also wanted to gift wines. From the start we wanted to make it a luxury service, we wrap our bottles in our signature tissue, with the Marlo leopard (the leopard is the sacred animal of the Greek God of wine), and we pack all wines in flexi hex, which is fully sustainable. We even handwrite gift messages, or you can add a video note. We were eager to ensure that a delivery from Marlo would be just as much a treat to yourself as it would be if you were sending it to someone else. Now, we also offer a wine subscription service, hosts wine tasting events and offers a wedding list service, too.

For more information visit Marlo.Wine


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