33 King Street, Covent Garden, WC2E 8JD
WLC Rank : 14
Glass from : £ 8 (175 ml)
BEST FOR140-page wine list
Romantic, cherry blossom dining rooms
Head sommelier, Daniele Chelo oversees a depthful and very tempting list, bottles of which are kept locked high above the cosy dining rooms.
Daniele Chelo oversees 2,800 bins at Clos Maggiores, the romantic Covent Garden restaurant owned by the Big Easy’s Paul Corrett which is replete with a famously blossom-adorned conservatory and first-floor dining room.
Chelo, who oversees a team of three sommeliers and has the responsibility too for the bar, “fell in love with hospitality at age 19” at Al Pont de Ferr, Milan, known for its gastrofollia. “It played with emotion,” he recalls. He came to London to learn English, “though, fairly speaking, London isn’t the best place to do that”, he admits. He rose the ranks at Jason Atherton’s City Social skyscraper restaurant, becoming a certified sommelier (Court of Master Sommeliers).
At just 25, Chelo remembers being handed keys to the fourth-floor eaves cellar at Clos Maggiores, to which he makes over 30 journeys daily fueled by adrenaline, one year ago by the outgoing sommelier, Antonin Dubuis with the advice, “take care of the hard work I did.” Although feeling very daunted at first taking on a list populated by Romanée-Conti, Leflaive, Raveneau, and Armand Rousseau, Ornellaia and Gaja, and Penfolds Grange, Chelo has gradually added “his touch” to the list, which he describes as “sponge-like” so he can keep guests stimulated. Additions include Mamete Prevostini Albareda, “a Sforzato di Valtellina made with Chiavennasca (Nebbiolo) grapes dried under the sun like Amarone.” He also amended the wine pairings, reaching beyond France. With contemporary Provençal-inspired dishes by head chef, Marcellin Marc, Chelo matches crisp, volcanic, Carricante – “Planeta 1614”, named after a particularly heinous eruption, with picked crab, smoked anchovy mayo and pickled cauliflower, and Szarka Pince’s apple-scented, incisive blotter dry Tokaj with cod, pancetta and Romanesco.
“Customers need to see new things,” says Chelo, who enjoys playing with established regions, exploring different regions and challenging expectations, hence Littoria’s Sonoma coast Chenin Blanc, white Bordeaux in the form of Pape-Clément, and Amon-Ra unfiltered Barossa Shiraz from Ben Glaetzer, which guests expecting a Rhone might be pleasantly surprised by. He is also keenly exploring the fertile, good value Washington State.
Clos Maggiores plays host to regular producer symposiums, particularly focusing on Champagnes such as the house pour Delamotte, as well as Krug, Ruinart, Veuve Cliquot, and, in still terms, Klein Constantia and Domaine Pascal Jolivet.
Although he enjoys London’s “city spirit,” particularly around Old Street where he lives, Chelo dreams of owning a vineyard of Nebbiolo in Italy’s Langhe, where he feels “peaceful”. When not at Clos Maggiores, he keenly surveys the restaurant scene, with a memorable meal occurring at The Fat Duck, “who contacted me beforehand to find out about my guest and I with our answers becoming part of a story on the day. It touched me emotionally even though my family would have thrown me out of the house had they known what it all cost…”
By Douglas Blyde.