Wine lovers in Madrid have a new meeting point in one of the liveliest areas of the city to enjoy food and wine: the Retiro district. El Marginal is the dream come true of César Ruiz, Flequi Berruti and Nacho Jiménez, the vinous trio behind La Tintorería, a wine store with an unusual name (a tintorería is a dry cleaner’s) that has specialized in small producers and wine styles that go beyond run-of-the-mill trends —think Galician reds for instance.
Despite their ties, anyone visiting El Marginal won’t find any mention of La Tintorería. This new venture in fact is part of Bulbiza, an ambitious project that includes the opening of a considerable number of restaurants on Ibiza street in Madrid led by the Riberas brothers, entrepreneurs in the steel and automotive sectors and with some helpf from chef José Andres. Similar partnerships include La Cocina de Frente with chef Juanjo López Bedmar, Julián de Tolosa or Bistronómika with Carlos del Portillo. El Marginal will supply wine to all of them and may also serve some of their dishes.
The place has a long counter that is well-stocked with wine glasses, a long table for eight people that can be booked in advance and four additional tables with stools. The atmosphere is relaxed and welcoming and the décor features warm colours and wooden furniture.
El Marginal, which means outsider in Spanish, refers to the style of light, Burgundy-inspired wines that the three partners have enjoyed for years, even in the Parker-dominated days. This is not the first time they use this name: every year the trio looks for the most striking barrel among the wineries in their portfolio; they then bottle it and send a dozen bottles to special clients like Michelin-starred restaurants with well-stocked wine lists.
“We wanted to replicate the wine bars that we love to visit during our trips to France. Food was not our priority because we don’t want to bother with cooking,” César Ruiz explains. The food menu includes cheese and ham plates, tinned fish, croquettes and other simple but good quality ingredients like tomatoes, farm eggs, smoked sardines, sausages...
The focus is on wine. An electronic board features all the wines by the glass on offer so when a bottle of wine is opened for a client, the remaining contents can immediately be offered by the glass to other guests. As for bottled wine, there are 101 different selections that change every month featuring the trio’s favourite regions (Burgundy, Galicia, Rhône…) and there are as many Spanish as foreign wines. They soon expect to offer a list of “secret” wines featuring great bottles like Rayas, Leflaive, Pingus, L’Ermita or La Beatas.
Most of the wines are sourced from the outstanding portfolio of La Tintorería, but they plan to increase gradually the amount of wines sourced from other providers. In the future they expect to open special bottles like magnums and will host casual chats and tastings with producers. The challenge now is to see whether there are enough wine lovers in Madrid or visiting the city who prioritize drinking superb wines above other options. A.C.