Hedonism, Mayfair: a winelovers' playground
London's most luxurious wine shop by far Hedonism looks as if it's the kind of place you'd need to take out a mortgage to buy a case. Fortunately appearances deceive . . .
Where is it?
In the Rolls-Royce-showroom-land of Davies street, just off Berkeley Square in London's Mayfair
Who runs it?
It's Russian owned, or, more specifically, owned by ex-mobile phone magnate Yevgeny Chichvarkin and run by CEO Tatiana Fokina. However the head buyer is a Brit - Alastair Viner, formerly of Harrods - and it’s staffed by ex sommeliers, MW students and the affable kind of chaps who wouldn’t look out of place on the floor of Majestic.
What does it look like?
Glitzy. There are chandeliers made of wine glasses. There are - or were at the time I visited last week - real orchids dangling in the windows. There’s a crèche downstairs with iPads. And mohair blankets for those who get chilly in the air-conditioned cellars while they’re tasting
What does it stock?
What doesn’t it stock, more like. Everything a well-heeled wine - and spirit - collector could desire - about 5000 wines and 1800 spirits from shochu to absinthe. Verticals of Mouton-Rothschild, Screaming Eagle and Chateau d'Yquem (90 vintages of it). Large format bottles like imperials (6 litres) and salmanazars (9 litres) lie like small submarines in the basement. The floor above there are gigantic custom-made decanters to hold their contents. Old vintages - 1880 madeira, 1774 Vin Jaune and 1811 Yquem among them. It also has an amazing geographic spread with wines from Armenia, China, Georgia, Greece and Morocco among others. And 800 Californian wines.
Can you taste there?
A changing selection of bottles is available in 75ml pours from Enomatic machines - including Chateau d’Yquem and 1996 Mouton Rothschild on the day I was there. For £28.
Coming shortly. On a grand scale judging by everything else.
Yup. There’s a record and CD player so you can pick what you want to listen to. An old Stones album was on while I was tasting. Rock'n'roll!
No. Or not at the moment. Shame - I was hoping for caviar . . .
You bet! They describe it as a concierge-type service. If you want a bottle they will deliver it within the hour in central London
Most notable feature
A Sine Qua Non room where all the bottles are cradled in pairs of hands, paws or claws.
To sum up
It this sounds like the kind of place you wouldn’t want to go to in a million years - think again. It’s jaw-dropping. Imagine Oddbins in its heyday transported to Las Vegas . . .
True most of the wines will be out of your reach unless you have a freshly minted banker’s bonus but there are 600 bottles under £30 - though given its location most will cost more than you’ll pay elsewhere. "We’re cheaper than Waitrose on champagne though" says Fokina gleefully. (They charge £37.50 for a bottle of Louis Roederer compared to £38.99 at Waitrose at the time of writing). And the well-priced Enomatic machines are a great way to explore wines you've probably never had the chance to try before.
A taste of Hedonism
Here are four wines I tried from the Enomatic. They will probably have changed by the time you get there but it gives you a flavour of what's on offer:
Anjou La Lune 2010, Marc Angeli (£1.20 a pour, £26.20 a bottle)
Delicate, fragrant and honeyed but not in the demi-sec category, dry Loire Chenin at its delightful best. (Yapp Brothers only charges £19.50 for it though)
Rall White 2010 (£1.60 a pour, £36.10 a bottle)
This delicious rich white from Donovan Rall is an unusual blend of Chenin Blanc (33%), Chardonnay (33%), Viognier (17%) and Verdelho (17%) but has a lovely crisp acidity that would make it a great match for seafood (£25.50 from the Butler’s Wine Cellar, £30 in Harvey Nichols)
Domaine Jean-Louis Chave Saint-Joseph 2009 (£2.15 a pour, £47.10 a bottle)
Bright, fresh peppery. Fruity but not at all overripe with a refreshing touch of bitterness - just what you need for a meaty Gloucester Old Spot pork chop. Again the price looks toppy compared to the £33 that Yapp charges but you're there, it's there . . .
Avignonesi Annate 2007, Vino Nobile de Montepulciano (£3 a pour, £66.90 in store)
It was great to have the chance to try this sexy, supple, headily-perfumed blend of Sangiovese ‘Prugnolo Gentile' (85%) and Cabernet Sauvignon which is seemingly unavailable elsewhere. Sorely tempting.
Hedonism Wines is at 3-7 Davies St, London W1K 3LD. They will apparently have an online shop soon.
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