Apart from a couple of games of pitch and putt in my early teens, I have never swung a golf club in anger. Until a couple of weeks ago that is. I had been invited for an afternoon of wine and golf at Vinothec Compass in North Greenwich. This is a wine bar with a driving range attached. There’s a shop for golfists – 3,000 square foot of pure golf according to the pro, Colin.
There was much talk about shafts and custom fitting and then I was allowed out on the driving range. He gave me a few pointers, don’t lift the club so high, stick your bum out, show a bit more angle, and then I hit some balls. Some of them I hit really far. When you hit a golf ball really cleanly, there’s a feeling that can only be described as pure golf. It’s a moment of harmony. I can see why golf is so popular, that and the silly trousers.
Vinothec Compass is in a rather unlovely former industrial part of North Greenwich. Thwacking the balls towards Canary Wharf, I could have been in Shanghai or Tokyo. Still at night I bet it looks lovely.
Anyway, I wasn’t there for the golf I was there for the wine. It’s run by Arnaud Compas (sic) a Frenchman and former employee of Robert Parker gone native in South London and Keith Lyon formerly of Waitrose. There’s some high status stuff at high status prices but there’s also interesting mature claret, riojas and wine from the Jura. The prices are generally very low for London restaurants. We tried an old but still virile Dutruch-Grand Poujeaux for £54 a bottle and an unusual Jura Vin De France that came across like a French Palo Cortado for around £30. The Vina Cubillo from Lopez de Herredia 2004 at around £50 also looked good value.
They have a Catalan chef called Jordi. Everyone in Catalonia is called Jordi. The food was extremely good, the suckling pig was some of the best I’ve ever tasted. I should add that I was there as a guest of Douglas Blyde, a friend who is doing some consultancy work for them, but I’d say that the food is worth the journey alone. It’s not just to mop up all the wine. With the wine and my new love of golf, I can see myself becoming a regular. Bordeaux lovers should book the next boat to North Greenwich.
Arnaud Compas in the foreground with Douglas Blyde and Keith Lyon lurking.
The nice Jura