Douglas Blyde heads to The Grill at The Dorchester and meets head of wines Szabolcs Ménesi, who has made it his “mission” to find the best English sparkling and still wines for the restaurant. Taken from the 2022 Wine List Confidential guide.
“While there are some modern tweaks – no more tablecloths, Chelsea boots for the staff, new banquette seating and a pudding bar,” wrote Hannah Guinness in Olive, “the vibe at The Grill is still very much in keeping with the rest of the Dorchester: gilded, golden opulence.”
Hungarian-born head of wines Szabolcs Ménesi oversees 800 bins at The Grill alongside its youngest ever head chef Tom Booton (previously of Alyn Williams at the Westbury). Ménesi describes the list in the glitzy room as “a playground”. It is, he says, “where we experiment the most, allowing our guests to discover more unusual regions and varieties alongside wines from more traditional regions”.
Alongside grower Champagnes such as Franck Pascal Fluence Brut Nature, Ménesi has developed the selection of English sparkling and still wines. “Since moving back to the UK and rediscovering some of these local producers, it became my mission to share them with our guests.”
Elsewhere, joining collections of Mouton and Pétrus, Ménesi has added Château Quinault L’Enclos, which he describes as “a hidden gem of St-Émilion”; Moric Blaufränkisch, “an Austrian superstar available by the glass”; and Oremus Mandolás Furmint from Tokaj, being “one of my favourite Furmints”. He matches the latter with the starter of raw scallop, fennel, clementine and chestnuts. “They just naturally connect. Its remarkable freshness works very well with the texture of seafood, and in this case the exotic characteristic of clementine within the wine. Acidity is just so important to elevate flavours and build a bridge between the dish and the wine.”
Ménesi admires Tom Booton’s “limitless creativity” which, he says, results in great things “when his passion for food combines with my passion for wine”.
Ménesi began his vinous career working at Hungary’s only French wine shop, continuing at Hotel Du Vin, Brighton, then Maze, London, followed by Shangri-La, London, then Hong Kong. At The Dorchester, which he describes as “such a multi-dimensional hotel”, he sees his role as to continue the legacy of sommeliers past while helping his colleagues to build their knowledge. “And we will soon be starting in-house WSET courses.”
Take note, the best table in the house, accessed via a London Underground- style escalator, is the chef’s table overlooking the vast hotel kitchens. “And just right next to it we have our Wine Vault where we keep some of our most treasured wines,” says Ménesi. “This is probably my favourite place to be.”
- The Rhône
- English wines
- Very large formats available via Coravin
Score: 92.8 Value: 88 Size: 96 Range: 95 Originality: 91 Experience: 93
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