With 800 wines to choose from, including a surprisingly strong presence of 'hipster' wines thanks to the fresh thinking of head somm Giovanni Ferlito, there's plenty to pore over in the Ritz's famous Livre du Vin.
50 Wines By The Glass
Exclusive Parcels from top estates
The gilded bastion of Mayfair hospitality was founded by Swiss entrepreneur, César Ritz, who, as an apprentice wine waiter, was told, ‘you’ll never make anything of yourself in the hotel business…’
The cosseting dining room, replete with frescoed ceiling rigged with so many chandeliers it needs reinforcement, is one of the London’s most splendid, most influential and longest lived culinary havens. Etna born head sommelier and Master of Culinary Arts, Giovanni Ferlito oversees an expert brigade of seven sommeliers with more than 800 bins at their disposal. However, it was not wine but spirits which first captured his imagination. Inspired by the film ‘Cocktail’, Ferlito became a bartender then bar manager for an Italian group of resorts, later becoming a professional sommelier in London. In 2017 he re-launched The Ritz’s offer, adding 150 bins including, for the first time in the venue’s history, English still and sparkling wines. He says: ‘year on year, we continue to see improvements in their quality as a result of changes in the climate and increased investment in winemaking techniques, as well as recognising the need to offer our guests a more sustainable choice of wine with a reduced carbon footprint.’
Orange wines also appeared on the list post Ferlito’s visit to Georgia’s Imereti region where he learnt about the role of qvevris. ‘The Ritz became one of the first Grande Dame hotels in London to put such skin contact wines onto the list and today we have five Orange wines including two by the glass, from Georgia and Friuli Venezia Giulia.’ Ferlito enjoys challenging guests to discover such wines, alongside dishes testament to the legacy of Auguste Escoffier, pristinely realised by son of a Tyneside fisherman turned Chairman of the Academy of Culinary Arts, executive chef John Williams MBE.
Also a fan of sherry, Ferlito, along with one of the hotel’s sous chefs, scored a trip to Jerez on winning the Copa Jerez UK, subsequently upping the tally of sherries to eight, of which seven are available by the glass.
Expect, too – naturalement – a very strong selection from the most sought after regions of France and Italy, including three exclusively released collections under The Ritz logo of the lion and crown – a combination of the British royal seal (the crown) and the logo of a financial backer (the lion). These include 20 wines across six vintages from Burgundy’s Domaine Philippe Pacalet, a vertical from Mouton-Rothschild reaching to 1982, and 13 renditions of Giacomo Borgogno Barolo, 1947-2006…
Ferlito also launched César’s Wine Club at The Ritz, a society for wine aficionados in tribute to founder, César Ritz. Hosted by Ferlito, and in partnership with some of the most famous Châteaux and Domaines, a calendar of monthly wine dinners and masterclasses takes place throughout the year for members.
‘We feel very lucky to work in such a dynamic city as London to develop our own knowledge and discover new wines,’ says Ferlito.
By Douglas Blyde.
This year, Ferlito, who makes wine himself on Etna, added 150 new wines to the illustrious list. These include – sign of the times – five orange wines, two of which are available by the glass. Another Ferlito innovation has been to introduce English wines to the hotel’s wine list for the first time. Nine references include Nyetimber, Gusbourne and Camel Valley.
There’s also a strong emphasis on indigenous varieties, with lesser-known wines from regions including Jura, Corsica, Etna, Georgia, Slovakia and Santorini providing a nice counterpoint to the impressive verticals of Premier Cru Classé Bordeaux and Grand Cru Burgundy.
As many as 46 wines are available by the glass, including 16 wines using the Coravin system. If you’re looking for ideas, you might tapdance your way over to the Rivoli Bar for a glass of Ritz Selection Brut Champagne (£19 a glass), a delicious, low-dosage bubbly produced exclusively for The Ritz by Barons de Rothschild.
Some ferocious pricing needs to be carefully negotiated, particularly with Champagne, but then this is The Ritz. While there’s little hope of a cheap night out, there are sufficient reasons to sup at The Ritz.
Glass from : £ 14 (175 ml)
150 PiccadillyW1J 9BR
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