New wine vault experience at The Dorchester
Christopher Delalonde, master sommelier and head of wines at The Dorchester, introduces us to the delights of his brand new wine vault.
Having been quietly working away at this exciting project, I’m thrilled to announce that we’ve just launched The Wine Vault. You can now be whisked away behind the scenes to The Dorchester’s famous kitchens, where I’ll welcome you to what I affectionately call ‘my new office.’
A real treasure trove
The Wine Vault has impressed our first guests with its treasure trove of over 1000 bottles of wine worth over £100,000. Each bottle is carefully arranged by region, like a visual map showcasing the finest wines and champagnes we offer here at The Dorchester.
At The Wine Vault we host private dinners and tasting masterclasses for both connoisseurs and novices alike. Each experience is bespoke to the individual group to help you get the most out of your time with us. The best part of my job is seeing someone’s face light up when they try something I’ve recommended.
Take the challenge
My aim is to really tune in to what our guests want. I like to challenge the palate so I usually set up a series of blind tastings. It’s a great way to break through preconceptions about what you like and really focus on what it is you actually like. For example, a great friend of mine claimed for many years that he hated Riesling but having convinced him to try different ones it’s now one of his favourites.
Learning what you like
We’re all creatures of habit so wine tastings are a great way to experiment. One of my personal favourites is a Barolo by Conterno, an old-fashioned winemaker working with an excellent grape variety to produce an outstanding wine. I’m also a huge fan of Pinot Noir from Burgundy, and even though I have over 25 years of experience there’s still always something new to try.
Spot the difference
If you enjoy a particular grape variety it’s great to sample a selection of that variety from different areas around the world to see which you prefer. I still like to blind taste like this myself as it’s a wonderful way to keep learning and our palates do change over time. Once you know what you are looking for you can easily widen your net and keep experimenting.
Often food and wine pairings seem to be set in stone when really it’s all about personal preference. However, some pairings are match made in heaven such as salmon with sauvignon blanc, asparagus with gewürztraminer, and you can’t beat lamb with a delicious pinot noir. I work closely with our executive chef Stefan Trepp for some really sublime pairings. Even with obvious matches it often pays to experiment as sometimes opposites attract, such as serving something spicy with something cool.
More open outlook
I love it when guests leave The Wine Vault with a more open approach to choosing wine and a greater sense of adventure. For example, Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and the Czech Republic are now producing some really interesting wines that are well worth trying and are also particularly good value. Together we can broaden your horizons and open up a whole new world of wine.
GIFTS & EXPERIENCES
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