The truth? I’ve never been much of a wine drinker. Sounds insane, I know. For me, all I knew is that I quite enjoyed a white wine. Dry? Sweet? French? Italian? I couldn’t quite articulate the specifics and shamefully, that’s where my knowledge of wine ended, until now.
When the chance arose to meet Daniel Curro, expert sommelier and one half of The Archive duo, for a 45-minute personalised shopping experience, my uneducated self jumped at the chance.
Why? For two reasons. One, to prove I’m simply not a wine lover and two, to see if I could be proven wrong. Little did I know the educational journey me and my palate were about to be taken on.
On arrival, Daniel’s friendly and passionate demeanour shines through immediately as he greets us in the doorway of The Archive – the wine boutique that lies within what is set to become a luxury, intimate hotel, The Vices York.
Effortlessly chatting, Daniel begins to guide us through the variety of products the shop has to offer. From deep reds and crisp whites, to a collection of rosé, sparkling and dessert wines, as well as champagnes and Giuseppe Giusti balsamic vinegar.
Daniel selects the first bottle based on my preferences and pours out a sample in the most efficient way using a Coravin Needle wine opener. The non-coring Coravin Needle gently passes through the cork and once the needle is removed, the cork simply expands back to its normal shape. As wine is extracted through the needle, it is replaced with pure Argon gas, ensuring oxygen never touches the remaining wine, keeping it as fresh as the day it was bottled.
Cool gadgets aside, the tasting commences. The first bottle is a 2019 Is Argiolas and straight away, we love it. Crisp, citrusy and oh-so refreshing.
Daniel doesn’t stop there, he takes us on a truly indulgent journey around the vineyards of Italy. Why Italy? Wine has always been a passion of Daniel’s. Since growing up in Milan watching his family collect wine, he started an ongoing collection of his own, and in fact, some of his favourites are stored in The Archive.
But it’s more than that. From working as a chef to becoming an AIS certified sommelier, Daniel explains the troubles he’s experienced throughout his career.
“One of the biggest problems now with Italian wines and why we chose to only stock Italian wine – apart from Champagne – is because not a lot of people know Italian wine enough and they don’t know where to start,” he explains.
“It’s not because of prejudice, it’s just because they simply don’t know where to start. The trouble is, for example, if someone knows they like a Bordeaux then people can turn around and say ‘Try this, you’ll like it, it’s the Bordeaux of Italy,’ rather than explaining the difference in the grapes etc.
“Instead, they should say this is a red wine from Tuscany, explain the grape variety, explain the flavours you can expect and sell this wine for what it is and not a comparison. You wouldn’t say if you like BMW then you will love a Mercedes – they’re two different types of car.”
The second wine takes us to the South of Italy. Daniel explains how, although this is from the same grape variety, Vermentino, it is completely different to the first.
“Just because you like a Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, doesn’t mean you will necessarily like a Sauvignon Blanc from France,” Daniel explains.
When trying a selection of white wines from various grapes from around Italy, Daniel doesn’t disclose what to expect from the wine, instead, he lets us come to our own decision.
First, we try it on our nose – what do we think of the smell? Do we like it based on the aromas? Then, we try it on our palate, swishing it around and getting a good taste of the different elements.
After the success of three very different, yet appealing white wines, Daniel takes a chance with a red wine based on what our palates are telling him. A bottle of La Vedetta, Barbera d’Asti, which is an Italian red wine made from the Barbera grape, is poured.
Daniel explains how this can be a light, fruity, acidic and fresh wine. My vino-friend loves it. For me? I quickly understand what it means to appreciate a good bottle of red and, while I never thought I’d imagine myself saying this, I could definitely learn to love a small glass with a meal.
Our experience comes to a close with the chance to ask the expert. What makes a wine vegan? How are wines filtered? How much does price have to do with a wine’s quality? No topic is off limits, no question too complicated – Daniel is an open book willing to share his expertise on the industry he so fondly knows and loves.
For those who are yet to discover this hidden gem in York, The Archive is a former Victorian police station in Fulford, which has been transformed into a boutique wine store, offering a stylish fusion of retail and hospitality.
This unique venue boasts an eclectic mix of over 100 fine Italian wines, including limited editions that are otherwise hard to source in the UK.
The Archive founders, our sommelier friend Daniel and Moreno Carbone, are also creating an exclusive hotel experience to match. The Vices will offer three, beautifully-designed suites, a restaurant and bar. The new hotel concept will open later this year.
“I’m from Milan, the fashion capital of Italy,” Daniel starts.
“As a trained chef and AIS certified sommelier, I’ve worked in a range of leading restaurants and luxury hotels. We want to welcome more people to experience fine wines – but it’s not just about the label, it’s about the story behind the label. Ultimately, it’s the emotion that you want to find within the wine. We’ve tasted every bottle in our collection, and each comes with our personal stamp of approval.”
Daniel and Moreno have close relationships with suppliers in Italy – they’ll visit the vineyards, sample the wine and seal it with their approval before having it imported and adding it to their collection at The Archive.
Educated and satisfied, we leave with smiles on our faces and two bottles of Argiolas – it was simply too good, we couldn’t leave without buying a bottle.