British multi-millionaire businessman Richard Caring has ditched rum and coke for fine wine as he hosted the inaugural Birley Wine Club dinner last night at Annabel’s.
The event took place in the covered garden at Annabel’s, the nightclub Caring acquired with Harry’s Bar and Mark’s Club when he bought the Birley Group in 2007.
Marking the first Birley Wine Club dinner, the evening featured the wines of DBR Lafite, including 1990 and 2004 vintages of Château Lafite Rothschild, along with a 2006 vintage from the group’s Pomerol property L’Evangile, and both dry and sweet whites from Sauternes estate Rieussec.
While The Birley Wine Club was launched ‘virtually’ in June, led by Clement Robert MS – the head sommelier for Caring’s clubs and restaurants – the dinner last night was its first physical event.
Designed to offer members of Birley Clubs exclusive access to specialist wines, along with advice on what to buy, as well as wine and food pairing, it will also include a series of dinners with fine wines brought directly from the featured estates, such as last night’s event with library vintages from DBR Lafite’s own collection.
Speaking to the drinks business last night, Caring said that he hoped to buy a vineyard in Bordeaux too, so he could have wines made specially just for members of the newly-formed Birley Wine Club.
Acknowledging that wine-focused clubs and restaurants appear to be more resilient hospitality businesses, particularly during our present pandemic-affected times, he expressed the importance of offering something specialist and bespoke for wine lovers.
When asked why he had not launched such a wine service for his members before now, he said that it was because he had only recently started to fully appreciate fine wine, describing himself as formerly a “rum and coke guy”.
Due to recent restrictions imposed on the UK hospitality sector in a bid to curb the spread of Covid-19, the event comprised a seated dinner with distanced tables featuring a maximum of four guests.
All attendees had to leave the club by 10pm, in line a curfew introduced by the UK Government that came into force on 24 September.
Caring is the owner of Caprice Holdings, which includes The Ivy chain of restaurants, as well as The Birley Clubs, consisting of five private clubs: Annabel’s, Harry’s Bar, George, Mark’s Club and Bath & Racquets.
About The Birley Wine Club: recent past and near future
- In June 2020, virtual At Home Experiences were launched for The Birley Club Members to escape into the world of fine wine.
- Members were invited to exclusive virtual tours of renowned wine regions in the world, with an opportunity to gain insight of the region’s winemaking heritage, exploring the best wine producers, offering virtual tastings, food pairings, and gaining expert advice from wine connoisseurs. The first episode of The Birley Wine Club was introduced by Financial Times’s drinks columnist Alice Lascelles, who guided club members through a virtual tour and tasting of Burgundy’s Domaine François Carillon.
- Now that the clubs have reopened, Birley Wine Club Members are invited to participate in dining experiences at the Birley Clubs, meaning that the Wine Club will now continue with both virtual and physical offerings for members.
- The Wine Club’s exclusive wine list is available for members of The Birley Wine Club only, to purchase at “incomparable prices”. The Birley Wine Club team, led by Clement Robert MS, who is group head sommelier, are on hand to guide members through the list, and to help members source wines from across the world.
- Members will also have the opportunity to purchase wines en primeur’, starting with Sassicaia 2017.
- As part of the Birley Wine Club services, members will have the opportunity to hire sommeliers for dinners and special events at home who will help with advise on wine pairings for the menu they are making. This could also happen in a virtual capacity. Additionally, expert sommelier advice will be available over the phone to wine club members while abroad, to assist in choosing the best wine from the restaurant that they are visiting.
- Furthermore, when it is safe and permittable to do so, members of the Birley Wine Club will have the opportunity to visit vineyards.
- In the upcoming virtual instalment of Birley Wine Club, Annabel’s have partnered with Christie’s International director and Master of Wine, Tim Tiptree to record an episode in which he shares with club members his top ten wine brands to invest in and collect, such as Château Latour, Romanée-Conti, Domaine Leroy, Georges Roumier, Lafite Rothschild, Mouton Rothschild, and Haut-Brion. He will also talk through his favourite single malt Whiskies from Scotland and Japan.
- The next wine club experience will take place at Matteo’s in Annabel’s, welcoming members to an evening celebrating Insignia from Joseph Phelps in the Napa Valley.