“Kingdoms” | In the Enoteca’s cellar with the experts
By Julie Carpentier
A twofold interview with Alessandro Tomberli
& Ivano Boso
Florence, August 2020
Restaurant manager at the Enoteca Pinchiorri***, Florence
“I remember the arrival at the Enoteca of those large bottles from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. It was in the spring of 1988. We were waiting for a lorry coming from Piedmont, from Gaja, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti’s importer. Mr Pinchiorri and everyone here at the Enoteca was quite anxious waiting for this delivery. I didn't understand this tension (at the time I was 20 years old). The bottles arrived and Mr Pinchiorri said “Open them, open the cases, I need to see the labels – they must be labelled No. 1.” And indeed, each bottle carried a ‘No. 1’ label!”
“Open them, open the cases,
I need to see the labels…!”
“These bottles are the legend of Enoteca Pinchiorri. They have been here for 30 years. Every day I see them in the cellar, every day I touch them, every day we show them to our customers because these bottles are unique. We are all very moved to see them go. This collection of N°1, N°2 and N°3 Jeroboams & Methuselahs put together by Mr Pinchiorri, is more than rare, it is unique. There is no equivalent anywhere else in the world.
When you open a bottle from Domaine de la Romanée-Conti, there is something that is different from other wines. It's a rare wine, it's an expensive wine, it's a wine with extraordinary qualities. When you open a bottle of Romanée-Conti 1985, it's like entering a cathedral. You have to be calm, respectful: it imposes silence. When I open a bottle of Romanée-Conti 1985 at the restaurant, I think of the larger bottles that are downstairs in the cellar. If the wine is that good in 75cl, just imagine how exceptional it must be conserved in a 3 liter or 6 liter bottle!
Mr. Pinchiorri once opened a Methuselah (6 liters) of Romanée-Conti 1981: an extraordinary gift for all the staff of the Enoteca on the occasion of the arrival of the 3rd Michelin star at the restaurant. A great moment for all of us, a beautiful memory of sharing too.”
Cellar manager at the Enoteca Pinchiorri***, Florence
“I have been at Enoteca Pinchiorri since 1992. Together with Alessandro and Mr. Pinchiorri, I look after the Enoteca's cellar, more specifically of wine purchases and relations with the producers.
I remember my arrival at the Enoteca and my very first time in the cellar. There was the collection of large-format bottles of wine from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti in an isolated room in the cellar, arranged in a spectacular and imposing pyramid, for the pleasure of our customers when they visited the collection.
Mr. Pinchiorri had always wanted to get the waxes replaced on the bottles. So I contacted the Domaine to find out if they could do this. I contacted Monsieur de Villaine directly. He answered very kindly that for this extraordinary collection, he would make an exception to the rule and would receive us in Burgundy to carry out the waxing.
So we left for Burgundy in 2011. When we arrived at the Domaine, we entrusted the precious bottles to Jean-Charles Cuvelier. After a wonderful week in Burgundy visiting the great estates, we returned to the Domaine to collect the bottles. I remember that Mr Cuvelier on this occasion complimented us on the ‘extraordinary, unique’ collection. It is true that this collection is unique. In fact, I have learned that the Domaine no longer makes large-format bottles.
On our return to Florence with the bottles newly waxed, they were immediately returned to the cellar. I have also kept all correspondence with the estate, as well as the invoice for this re-waxing service.”
“… the Domaine no longer makes large-format bottles.”
“I have been looking after the cellar for many years. The cellar of Enoteca Pinchiorri is exceptional, it contains many bottles and only the crème de la crème of the world's wines. Mr. Pinchiorri is passionate about wines, about all wines, but above all about Burgundy wines. He has passed this passion on to us, and we are always on the lookout for wines and new producers from this region.
Here in the cellar, there are many Grands and Premiers Crus from Burgundy, which Mr Pinchiorri has always bought and continues to buy passionately. But the Enoteca's cellar is also very rich in great wines from Italy, California, Spain and so many other regions of the world where the greatest wines are produced. The Enoteca is a real education for us who work alongside Mr. Pinchiorri : every day we are fortunate enough to open 2 or 3 bottles from the cellar, bottles which are tasted as a team, all together and blind. This daily exercise very often reserves wonderful surprises, and very fine wines (and sometimes wines from the Domaine de la Romanée-Conti).
The walls of the Enoteca's cellar have conserved up to 80,000 bottles, covering more than 4,000 references. Here at the Enoteca in Florence we open around 8'000 – 10'000 bottles a year, and only the greatest wines. We organise numerous tastings throughout the year, and our customers are ever present to taste these, the finest of wines, the treasures of our establishment.”