Matteo’s at Annabel’s
Douglas Blyde says: “Evoking the après ski atmosphere of the original Annabel’s Club, Matteo’s, which launched last year, is a 60-seat Italian restaurant backed up by a £1 million cellar, bottles from which are subject to notably tender mark-ups.
Overlooking the lush garden of the club, with its mechanically parting glass roof, the warmly-lit, gold-tinted dining room features the shimmering Buddha, mirror and art from the first Club at No. 44 Berkeley Square. It takes the name of the operator, Richard Caring’s young son whose portrait subtly appears between Michelangelo and Marco Polo on the opening page of a wine list, which includes likely the largest collection of Barolo in the world, starring many years of Conterno, Gaja, Scavino and Voerzio. This is regionally classified and served in bespoke glasses.
“I try to spend as much time as possible in the Langhe hills,” says Master Sommelier, Clement Robert, the head of wine for Birley Clubs and Caprice Holdings who built the collection with the assistance of sommelier, Erik Simonics (ex The Club at 10 Trinity Square).
There is also an incredibly detailed range of editions from Tuscan luminary estates such as Guado al Tasso, Ornellaia, Massetto, Solaia and, to 1968, Sassicaia.
“We sell six bottles of Sassicaia a day, which created a real issue because we couldn’t find enough on the market, although when Priscilla Incisa della Rocchetta visited us, she was so impressed that we now get it direct,” notes Robert.
As well as Italian sparklers including Annamaria Clementi (Ca’ del Bosco) and 1989 Ferrari in magnum, Matteo’s boasts huge reserves of Dom Pérignon, dating from 1959, including rose gold Methuselahs.
“I’ve true admiration for the brand which screams Annabel’s,” says Robert of the house.
Matteo’s mine host, Cristiano Pellizzari, a familiar face for 15 years at No. 44, is the masterful commander of the restaurant floor, overseeing a troupe of sommeliers in tailored jackets emblazoned with the Italian flag. Be sure to ask him to whisk the stimulating vodka, Prosecco and lemon sorbet Sgruppino cocktail at-table at the end of the meal.
Incidentally, Matteo’s loos, which warranted their own launch party, are the only places within the club to permit photography, the gents feature a 500kg onyx crocodile acting as a basin.
Elsewhere in the club, Robert oversees a massively endowed list of noble names, from Screaming Eagle to magnums of châteaux, Montrose and Margaux, double magnums of Latour and Unico, imperials of Haut-Brion and Lafite, and magnums of Boërl & Kroff Champagne and Domaine Leflaive, as well as a “collection” of Romanée-Conti and Pétrus. Not all is ivory tower, however, with respectable bottles beginning at £29 for a handpicked Pinot Bianco from Slovenia (Goriška Brda) or £35 for Casa Ferreirinha from the Douro (Papa Figos). As well as wine, expect a strong spirits focus throughout the club, including some 600 bottles of Tequila to say salud with at the top floor Mexican restaurant.
Throughout the extraordinarily lavish, carefully realised, four-storey townhouse turned wonderland for well-heeled oenophiles, Robert has strived to build a sommelier team with the knowledge and ability to advise members at the highest level.
“I always had an idea it would become a wine destination,” says Robert. “We’ve finally achieved what we wanted to do and see regulars at Matteo’s drinking exceptional wines for exceptionally fair prices.””
Find out more about Matteo’s here.