The New Forest is one of the UK’s most interesting places to dine at the moment. One of the newest restaurants in and around Lymington is The Shipyard Fishmarket, Bar and Kitchen, beyond Lymington Quay, in the thick of the town’s boatyards. Situated in a rather unpreposessing 1960s building, The Shipyard is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Inside, the decor has been done well, improving on the building’s outer shell, but prices are remarkably reasonable. The fish, straight from the boats, is fresh and good. It’s a similar concept to the quite well known Verveine in nearby Milford-on-Sea, but not as expensive. So this is where we ate with friends last night…but first, I shall wind back a little.
Having things in common is the essence of friendship, but when your interest in wine is a little offbeat, as is mine, the best times are had with friends who share exactly the same eccentricity. It’s not that we don’t appreciate the classics, it’s that we’ve kind of done them to death and want to explore more widely. Before dinner last night we drank two wines as aperitifs which proved the case in point.
Martin Diwald is a mate of Arnold Holzer, whose wines I’ve often written about. They were school friends and remain neighbours in Austria’s Wagram wine region. Both of these young guys are doing exciting things. Martin makes a truly delicious biodynamic Sparkling Gruner Veltliner Brut as part of his range. This was accompanied by Dermot Sugrue’s Sugrue-Pierre 2010 English sparkler (disgorged 2014). Dermot is probably acknowledged as perhaps the finest sparkling winemaker in England, forging the wines at Wiston on the South Downs of Sussex, as well as his own Sugrue-Pierre Label. There’s no doubt that the very precise Sugrue-Pierre (sub-titled “The Trouble with Dreams”) is a delicious Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay), and we liked it a lot. But we were truly charmed by the Austrian wine, with its sensual softness contrasting with the precision and rigour of the English wine. The Sugrue-Pierre is quite widely available (try Brighton’s Butlers Cellar for both this and the Wiston range, or indeed Lymington’s own Solent Cellar), but you will have to go to Red Squirrel for the sparkling Gruner at the moment. Please leave some for me.
At The Shipyard we were able to obtain corkage, and so we took a few of our own bottles along. Just three, but lovely wines. First we opened Gut Oggau Theodora 2014. It’s a blend of Gruner Veltliner and Welschriesling from the village of Oggau, a couple of kilometres north of Rust. Theodora is a light wine, bottled with a good whack of protective CO2, and unless this wine is thrown into a carafe you’ll find that it takes a while to dissipate. That’s part of its charm. There’s precision and a mineral element, but under this there’s a kind of softness. Theodora will happily age a few years, and the apparent simplicity you get on first sip belies a haunting complexity which grows as the wine warms and breathes. No additives, biodynamic and vegan.
Gut Oggau is run by husband and wife team, Eduard Tscheppe and Stephanie Tscheppe-Eselböck. They are two of the most “alive” people I know in wine, and this trait is almost directly transposed into their incredible wines. If you have not yet tried them, then Theodora is quite a nice one to start with. If you “get it” you’ll probably go mad for the whole range.
We decided to follow this with our lighter red, for reasons which should become apparent. I recently wrote about Vincent Marie’s Magma Rock, an Auvergnat Gamay from Volvic, made at Vince’s Domaine No Control. Here we were drinking one of its sister wines, called Fusion, a Vin de France like Magma Rock, from the 2015 vintage. This is Gamay with vines up to 110 years of age, on sand and feldspar (a group of rock forming minerals which crystallize from magma, but can also be found in sedimentary rocks), on south facing slopes at just over 400 metres’ elevation. Fusion is a softer wine than Magma Rock, more like a Beaujolais in some ways. Magma Rock has a freshness to it which it is easy to deduce, rightly or wrongly, comes from the volcanic location of the vines. This is more gentle and subtle, a pleasant contrast. I sort of prefer the spikiness of the Magma Rock, but I’m sure that’s down to it being a little bit different to most of the Gamay I’m drinking a lot of at the moment. The name relates in part to the diverse musical tastes of Vince, something we share, but it’s also a passing reference to the style of vinification.
We ended, wine-wise, on what I hope we all agreed was the highlight of the evening, Jean-François Ganevat Côtes du Jura Savagnin Cuvée Prestige 2006. This is a Savagnin made in the oxidative style. It has nine years in barrel without topping up, and many might call it a mini-Vin Jaune. But there is clearly a different style here. Young Vin Jaune has a lot of acidity and extract. This has a truly beguiling nose of lemon and walnuts, but it’s altogether softer, something mirrored in the wine itself. The alcohol is 14%, and although there is no suggestion of this on nose or palate, it undoubtedly adds presence. I think this is in a really good place right now, a very fine and complex wine to beg or borrow if you can. I doubt I’ll drink better over this festive period.
Here are a few of the dishes at The Shipyard. The Belly Pork was very good, the crab was amazing. The fish is as good as you’ll find landed almost anywhere on the South Coast. Highly recommended.
The Shipyard Fishmarket, Bar & Kitchen is at Anchor House, Bath Road, Lymington, Hampshire, right next to Berthon Boatyard. See their web site here. Bookings on 01590 677705.