Plonkers Bar – A Fun Night Out at Duke of London – At the end of a side road to the river, off Brentford High Street, based in Ballymore’s The Brentford Project, is a truly bizarre world that, until recently, was completely unknown to us. Duke of London is a classic car showroom, but a showroom with a difference…and what a difference! As well as an eclectic collection of classic cars (including some very rare ones and what I thought a rather vulgar, metallic purple Rolls Royce) It also houses a pizzeria, a bacon butty stall, a wine bar, and much more. But it’s the wine bar I want to tell you about: it’s called Plonkers Bar and it nestles in a corner of the car showroom. It’s only open a couple of days a week (Friday 17.00-23.00 and Saturday 13.00-23.00) but it also hosts a series of top-notch wine tastings, taking place on a Thursday evening. And it was to one of these that we went the other day – Thanksgiving in fact, so it was particularly appropriate that we were scheduled to taste a series of American wines.
The interior of the bar is very stylish and reminiscent of a stylish ‘50’s/early 60’s lounge, (with design inspiration from Mad Men), featuring leopard print carpet, luxurious velour armchairs and collectable vintage pieces and art. When we arrived, Csaba Toth, the wine consultant who runs the bar in conjunction with Duke of London owner Merlin McCormack, and sommelier Christine, was busy arranging the cocktail tables and setting up with glasses, water, notes, and a carefully curated selection of nibbles to enjoy with the wines.
The person conducting the tasting was Luisa Salussolia, founder of Unicorn & The Vine, a local wine educator, and Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) programme provider. I completed my WSET exams some years ago, and I found Luisa’s style of presentation excellent, very relaxed, and informative. I would have loved her to have been my tutor.
Having introduced herself and explained the best way to appraise and taste the wines, Luisa introduced the first wine – a delicious sparkling from Dundee Hills, Oregon. She talked us through the history of US wine production, and I wasn’t surprised to learn that 80 % of US wine is produced in California. When we’ve visited various wineries in California, we found many of the reds rather too tannic for our palates. But Luisa and Csaba had put together a superb list of whites and reds from New York, Washington, Oregon and of course California. I must be honest, they completely changed my view of Californian reds, while also introducing us to some previously completely untried regions. The whole evening was very relaxed and interactive, and afterwards we finished the remnants of the tasting wines, ordered extra supplies, and chatted to Luisa, Csaba and our table companions.
I thoroughly recommend the Plonkers wine tastings. The wines you taste are all exceptional quality and the price for a relaxed, sociable, educational evening is really good value. (Around £40-45 per person) We’re planning to return on a Friday or Saturday for a pizza upstairs in the showroom and to see the bar in full swing. Having been following it for some time on instagram (@plonkersbar) it certainly seems to be a thriving, fun place with live music with a real buzz!