La Dame de Pic London
The Four Seasons, 10 Trinity Square, EC3N 4AJ
WLC Rank : 18
Glass from : £ 7.50 (125 ml)
BEST FORWines of the Rhône and Château Latour
Pristine, umami-rich cooking by Anne-Sophie Pic
Soaring pillars in the spacious dining room
The expertise of Jan Konetzki
“Healed from the trauma of lockdown, we continue to serve French ‘je ne sais quoi’ with splashes of excitement from sake, cocktails and cutting-edge wine matches with Anne-Sophie Pic’s unique cooking,” says wine guru, Jan Konetki.
The triple Michelin-starred mothership of chef and restaurateur, Anne-Sophie Pic is located in gardens in Valence at the heart of the Rhône corridor, hence it seemed natural for Jan Konetzki, the sartorially noteworthy wine director of 10 Trinity Square, to focus on wines stemming from the mighty river’s banks at Pic’s elegant London outpost. “While I pondered the idea, a vast map of the river unfolded in my mind. From the glaciers to the Mediterranean sea, there is so much to discover.” Konetzki, who feels, “we’re going to own the Rhône crown for the UK”, extols the diversity of what may be reaped. “There is everything from entry-level amazing value bargain finds such as Jacquère and Chasselas from the banks of Lake Geneva which are stunning and can replace a Chablis easily but cost half the price, to established, world-class, blue-chip wines such as Jean-Louis Chave Cuvée Cathelin Hermitage which can cost the same price as a bottle from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti.”
As well as offering plentiful Rhônes, Konetzki highlights of vinous “Cousins” on his list, hence one “cousin” of the Northern Rhone, a Grüner Veltliner by producer, Frank Hirtzberger, is portrayed thus: “if Arnold Schwarzenegger is the most famous person from Austria, then Grüner Veltliner is the most famous grape variety. This wine is produced from the best vineyards with the greatest attention to detail. It is complex and age-worthy; reminiscent of the most well-known whites in the Northern Rhône.” And at the top end is “glamorous cousin” Penfolds Grange, described as “one of a kind,” and “inspired by the great hermitage hill of the Rhône… giving Hermitage a run for their money!”
Konetzki believes sommeliers are foremost entertainers, there “to ensure people have a good day out,” which is why he enjoys introducing other factors to the investigation and appreciation of wine, such as offering a tasting of half bottles versus magnums at the restaurant, “which was a revelation for everyone, there being more intensity from a magnum, which is a slow burner, like a young artist compared to a neutral, soft half bottle.”
Dishes, inspired by Pic and realised by head chef, Luca Piscazzi (formerly of Aspleys at The Lanesborough, La Pergola, Rome, and Amber, Hong Kong) include a signature starter of pretty, tiny hat-like “berlingots” pasta parcels, possibly filled with époisses-like St Cera spoonable, washed-rind cows’ cheese from Bungay, Suffolk, which Konetzki matches with “intensely mineral, but not austere, Meyer lemon-scented and nearly fresh yoghurt-like” barrel-fermented Albariño from 180 year-old-vines (Leirana ‘Finca Genoveva’, Bodegas Forjas del Salnés). This, he says, “lifts flavours and helps with the richness of the cheese.”
Although initially intended to cater for nearly 200 guests a day, the elevated cooking its clientele, which Konetzki describes as “gourmet tourists” have come to appreciate from this destination restaurant means it, in reality, treats, very well indeed, a maximum of half that number.
By Douglas Blyde.
A well-known wine merchant described Jan Konetzki’s list at the graceful Dame de Pic as being ‘like a love poem for wine… Because there’s nothing missing. Because it’s not about having the longest list, but the most carefully chosen.’
La Dame de Pic’s home being Maison Pic in Valence, at the centre of the Rhône valley, it seemed natural to Konetzki to focus on the wines of the area, ‘especially as many others overlook the region,’ he says. ‘While I pondered the idea, a vast map of the river unfolded in my mind. From the glaciers to the Mediterranean sea, there is so much to discover. From hidden gems like aged Chassellas from Switzerland to ‘Grand Wines’ like Hermitage from J.L. Chave and Châteauneuf-du-Pape from Rayas. The Rhône has it all at different pinpoints.’ To make it ‘La version de Londres’, resembling the melting pot of countries and cultures, Konetzki and his couth team added a section of ‘cousins’ to offer international alternatives ‘in the vein of the Rhône style’. These may include biodynamic ‘Kalimera’ Biancolella from Itay’s volcanic island of Ischia close to Naples, described on the list as having the ‘perfume and richness of a great Viognier from the northern Rhône.’
While The Club at 10 Trinity Square is about classics, comfort ‘and a majestic old-world feeling’, La Dame de Pic is contemporary, elegantly aromatic and ‘so Frenchie’, notes Konetzki, full of familiar but perhaps ‘unexperienced’ flavours. ‘We speak to guests in either area and have something different to offer on the side. It is very special to be able to bid so different experiences under the same roof.’
Dishes, authored by Anne Sophie Pic may include starter of pretty, tiny hat-like ‘berlingots’ pasta parcels with lightly smoked Brillat-Savarin, green asparagus, bergamot and mint, then wild sea bass roasted with coco de Paimpol beans, sage and coffee-infused dashi, or Brittany Pigeon in a marinade of Sumatran Bataks berry and Japanese Nikka whisky, with Jerusalem artichoke and blackberry, culminating with ‘The White Millefeuille’ of yellow Bourbon coffee cream, confit kumquat and Timut pepper foam.
Coffee, in both cup and cooking, as well as tea, are taken very seriously at La Dame de Pic incidentally, along with a neat sake selection both here and at Japan meets China restaurant, Mei Ume, nextdoor.
By Douglas Blyde.
Anne-Sophie Pic is one of the most highly decorated chefs in France, with six Michelin stars to her name, including three at her flagship restaurant, Maison Pic, in Valance on the left bank of the Rhône. From a family of culinary whizzes, Pic is the third generation of her clan to have earned three stars, and did so with no formal training.
La Dame de Pic is a London spin-off of her more casual restaurant in Paris. Its wine list is curated by German-born head sommelier Jan Konetzki, who was plucked by The Four Seasons from the three-Michelin-starred Gordon Ramsay Royal Hospital Road.
The gargantuan list is spread over 43 pages with a focus on the Rhône, but not exclusively, showcasing regional classics and lesser-known whites alike. French classics are at home at Le Dame Pic, but hunt carefully and you will find some esoteric gems.
By Lauren Eads – 2017