Hélène Darroze at The Connaught
The Connaught, Carlos Place, Mayfair, W1K 2AL
WLC Rank : 43
Cuisine: French Modern
Glass from : £ 12 (125 ml)
BEST FORBottles direct from producers
Worldly dishes by Hélène Darroze
Cossetting service and uplifting setting
A forward-thinking buying strategy and rock-solid relationships with iconic producers ensures The Connaught retains a wealth of liquid assets.
While at The Connaught, Tuscan born bartender turned sommelier, Daniel Manetti accepted an impossible to refuse LinkedIn invitation to work for the Seabourn cruise line at Thomas Keller’s restaurants, “joining in Brisbane, sailing to New Zealand, New Caledonia and South America… opening lots of Californian wines and big Burgundies.” Back on terra-firma, he ultimately took vinous responsibility for Hélène Darroze and Jean-Georges at The Connaught, as well as the Coburg Bar and Connaught Bar.
You’re most likely to encounter him the restaurant of chef Hélène Darroze, who is the inspiration for Colette in Pixar’s “Ratatouille”, or three floors down at the clandestine sommelier’s table in the cellar, where he can provide a highly personalised experience. Representing 2,800 labels, 20,000 bottles slumber here, with further treasures encapsulated in 11 Eurocaves at street level. Besides the cellar is the micro-distillery of master mixologist, Agostino Perrone, whose 10th anniversary Connaught Bar gin stars wine as a botanical.
Manetti takes a “generous” approach to matching wine with Darroze’s French dishes, subtly accented with worldly yuzu, dashi and Tasmanian pepper, for example. “We go further, offering different tasting menus for the same table, choosing wines at that moment according to a guest’s preferences – a good way to interact.”
Running to 134 pages, Manetti’s list at Hélène Darroze aces in illustrious France, featuring bottles bought ex-cellar, “and never from brokers.” Expect a celebration of Burgundian domaines, Coche-Dury, Leflaive, Armand Rousseau, Comte Georges de Vogüe, Romanée-Conti and Prieuré Roch, as well as rare Bordeaux, like 1961 Latour in magnum, and – coming soon! – d’Yquem from 1927, 1935, 1945, 1947 and 1975. “We’re constantly asking for back vintages from Bordeaux châteaux,” pleads Manetti. There’s a lot of Krug, too, a bounty of Beaucastel, a coveted collection of the work of the late Gianfranco Soldera, and from Spain, Vega Sicilia dating to the early 1940s.
Although rich pickings abound in London’s most affluent postcode, it isn’t Manetti’s aim to “scare people”, hence if you’re in the market for a bottle of Albariño in the mid-£40s, then that is an option.
Entries on the often text rich list are collaborative, being co-written with producers, with some, such as Roagna of Piedmont, going so far as to stamp their entry with approval.
The hotel has privileged access to rare Armagnac bottled by Hélène Darroze’s brother, Marc, dating to 1918. “We sold all the 1900 which was perfect: very pure, very classic, with all components in the right place,” recalls Manetti.
By Douglas Blyde.