10 Berners Street, W1T 3NP
WLC Rank : 17
Glass from : £ 9.50 (175 ml)
BEST FORChampagne and Sweet Wine Trolleys
Strong on Barbaresco and Barolo
Art-Filled Grand Dining Room
Dishes by Phil Carmichael of Great British Menu fame
Matteo Montone delivers “a classic wine list with accents of organic, natural and unusual countries” within the dramatically ornate Berner's Tavern dining room, a palace for the people.
Director of wine, Matteo Montone, named Chaîne des Rôtisseurs GB Young Sommelier of The Year, diverted from a career in tourism to wine after tasting a Vino Nobile di Montepulciano – Avignonesi Grandi Annate 1997. The now very much acclaimed sommelier earned his spurs at The Ritz, Locanda Locatelli and Aqua Shard, before taking his skill set to the art-swathed Berners Tavern, a galleried, “wow” factor dining room.
Montone oversees eight sommeliers, deploying two trolleys afloat with Ruinart Champagne and 20 varieties of sweet and fortified wines apiece, perhaps including 1964 Henriques & Henriques Sercial. In fact, 70 wines are available by the glass, such as Nicolas Joly’s Coulée de Serrant, Esoterico, which is an Australian orange wine (Unico Zelo), and even Masseto. Despite proclaiming a dislike for Sauvignon Blanc, it’s still possible to get a glass of Sancerre, though – albeit at a premium.
Montone increased the breadth of labels substantially over the past few years, making Berners Tavern a grand destination which is, for wine lovers, more than skin deep. Reaching back to 1989 Clos Sainte Hune, the Trimbach Alsace selection is notable, as are offerings from Italy including ample Barolo and Super Tuscan collections, mini verticals of Bordeaux, including Cos d’Estournel, and a head-turning line-up of North American labels. England also gets representation in the form of Hattingley Valley, Bride Valley (wine of Stephen Spurrier), Gusbourne, (including their still, barrel fermented Chardonnay) and Nyetimber “I’ve found guests are more interested, and more informed about, English sparkling wines – we’re expanding our selection.”
Overseen by Jason Atherton and realised by Cowbridge born Phil Carmichael, a former BBC Great British Menu ambassador for Wales, dishes are big on flavour and may include aged Buccleuch estate beef tartare with egg yolk jam, chicken schnitzel, or slow-cooked shoulder of Herdwick lamb with sugar snaps, peas and broad beans, roasted wild mushrooms and mint sauce – a dish Montone previously paired with 1994 Mount Edelstone Henschke. “The body and tannins of the wine compliment the texture of the dish, the flavour profiles of the wine work well with the flavours.” Montone also rates Langhe Nebbiolo “with anything white truffle-related.”
Montone politely describes London as “wine capital of Europe – it feels like playing in the premier league,” a City in which he has met A-lister guests such as Rod Stewart, whom he calls “the funniest guest I’ve ever served.”
By Douglas Blyde.