In our new column, A Seat At The Bar we showcase the world’s best bars – from plush cocktail spots to dive bars, and everything in-between.
This week, we’re spotlighting The Birley Wine Club, an idea which sprouted in lockdown 2020 when Annabel’s wine cellar opened up for the first time to “give member’s the chance to purchase their favourite bottles and have [them] delivered directly to their doorstep”. Since then, the wine club’s offering has “evolved to include even more spectacular experiences from exceptional producers of wines, sprits, and cigars”.
Clement Roberts, Head of Beverages across all the Birley Clubs (Annabel’s, George, Harry’s Bar, Mark’s Club, and Bath & Racquets) adds – “The Birley Wine Club offers our member’s the most exclusive access into the World of Fine Wine. Through unforgettable experiences, members have opportunities to meet renowned wine personalities and attend world-class dinners, tastings, and talks across all The Birley Clubs.”
“We offer a truly unique list of rare wines and are proud to be able to offer these at a considerable margin below retail prices, some are even allocated ‘en Primeur’! Members have access to an expert concierge service where they can seek advice on wine investments, cellar management, and can even ask us for our recommendations wherever they are dining in the world. Like a fine wine, the experiences and dinners will only continue to become more special and more unique!”
For the Birley Wine Club’s Liber Pater dinner, part of the group’s ongoing wine series, we gathered at Annabel’s Italian outlet, Matteo’s – home to “the largest collection of Barolo, Masseto, Sassicaia, Monfortino, and Dom Perignon anywhere in the world. They literally “have every vintage ever made by the Iconic Tenuta San Guido Sassicaia!”
Residing in suitably opulent surrounds – complete with marigold walls, mirrored ceilings, and oodles of fringe, as conceived by Martin Brudnizki – Matteo’s exudes old-school glamour (with a smattering of contemporaneity). Where better then to sip on Liber Pater (in the company of Loic Pasquet, the legendary Bordeaux winemaker behind Liber Pater) and learn about their decadent pours?
Named after the ancient Roman god of viticulture, the vineyard of Liber Pater is located in a small boutique winery in Graves, Bordeaux region in France. “Liber Pater is made using a very unique technique, almost identically to how wine would have been made 150 years ago. Due to this, the production quantities are minuscule compared to other vineyards and each bottle is incredibly rare and difficult to get hold of. In fact, they are the only producer in Bordeaux that use a native ungrafted variety.” – Clement Roberts
What To Order
Oh, that’s all been taken care of (though, do highlight to the waitstaff if you have any dietaries). On the night, enjoy a leisurely tasting experience carefully paired alongside canapés and a four-course meal to compliment the guest wine producer.
We kicked off proceedings with a glass of Champagne Rare 2008, which boasts a fresh fruity profile, before nibbling on a delicate wild sea bass carpaccio with pink grapefruit and apple marigold, paired with a delectable Egon Müller Riesling Kabinett Scharzhofberger 2008. Our next course was a toothsome carabinero and squid ink tortellini, topped with tomato and prawn butter sauce, which was coupled up with Denarius by Liber Pater 2019 – a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot, which amalgamates to create a soft, elegant sip. For mains, we enjoyed beautifully prepared grilled wagyu tenderloin served with morels and white broccoli, and finished with a golden raisin jus gras. The meal crescendoed with a tasting of Liber Pater 2015 (considered to be the world’s most expensive wine).
A cheese course of Tomme de Savoie and Tête de Moine paired with Denarius by Liber Pater 2015 rounded out proceedings, and for those seeking a little something sweet to end, delicate cubes of thyme and apricot ganache, as well as orange and almond nougat provided satiation.
Who To Bring
The Birley Wine Club is open to club members only – so either be, or be in the attendance of, a member.
When To Go
“This year, we are very proud to be hosting world-class vineyards such as Chateau Lafite Rothschild, Masseto, Liber Pater, Chateau Mouton Rothschild, Chateau Latour, and Chateau Pichon Baron.” – Clement Roberts.
The Dress Code
The Club’s dress code “does not wish to be binding or overly prescriptive”, however they “do politely ask members and their guests dress up for the occasion, and be respectful in their choice of smart attire.”
The CF Tip(ple)
The Birley Wine Club events are held several times a year. Demand is high and time is of the essence where bookings are concerned. Take note.