438 Kings Road, Chelsea, SW10 0LJ
WLC Rank : 63
Glass from : £ 7 (150 ml)
BEST FORStrong by-the-glass selection
Gutsy, generous cooking
A serious cheeseboard
Riesling, the Rhône and increasing Italian wines selection
Newly-risen head sommelier of a haven for wine lovers, Medlar in Chelsea, Melania Battiston aims to become the first Italian female Master Sommelier.
At Chelsea’s Medlar, near the World’s End neighbourhood – possibly titled because of the once considerable distance from it to central London – Melania Battiston, whose dream is “to become the first Italian female Master Sommelier” strives to reflect the internationalism of London via the 42 pages of the 600-bin list.
A lover of “illustrious Chenin Blanc” and “the uncelebrated, yet historical, Grignolino, tasted frequently during my quarantine,” but detractor of Carménère when it shows a “leafy, green peppery undertone,” Battiston previously worked at 28-50 Maddox Street alongside Master Sommelier, Clement Robert. “Given my knowledge of wine was mediocre, Clement bravely offered me the position of the assistant head sommelier.” To prove she was “good enough” for the role, Battiston took and failed the Court of Master Sommelier certified exam twice. “I was about to leave everything behind but my instinct told me to carry on.” One month later, Battiston was awarded the Certified CMS, “and I’m on the waiting list for the Master Sommelier exam having passed my Advanced on the first try with the best score in November 2019.”
Medlar’s motorbike riding, outgoing head sommelier, Didier Catelo, subsequently invited Battiston to become his assistant. He proved a “real mentor” for Battiston. “My boss and best friend at the same time, Didier would share his vast knowledge, charming mannerisms and the rarest sips with me. His philosophy of being humble, inspired, decisive, and honest with yourself and others will accompany me forever in my career.”
Over time, Battiston, who describes her journey in the industry as, “an authentic and wholehearted escalation,” intends to introduce more indigenous grapes at Medlar, without forgetting the classics. “Based on my travels, I will focus on Italy, New Zealand and sparkling wines, keeping the eclectic and seasonal by-the-glass selection, introducing offers throughout the week for our wine aficionados.” Such selections will be offered alongside the hearty dishes of co-owner and head chef, Joe Mercer Nairne, who studied Archaeology and Anthropology at Oxford. These may include Taleggio arancini with confit quail legs, autumn truffle, sautéed king oyster mushroom and cauliflower, followed by turbot with Palourde clams, Coco de Paimpol beans, Piedmontese peppers, tapenade, almonds and gremolata.
While Catelo’s “fantasy” was to produce “straw wine dried on a mat of sugar cane” on the Caribbean island of Marie-Galante, Battiston dreams of owning her own vineyard in Monferrato or the Langhe.
Post the lockdown, Battiston completed a hugely sought-after internship in Modena. “An honour to be inspired by an amazing bunch of professionals at Osteria Francescana – Best Restaurant in the World 2016-2018. I loved and admired the fiery, enthusiastic relationship between kitchen and front-of-house: a synergy delivering an unforgettable world-class experience.”
By Douglas Blyde.