A HIDDEN TREASURE
IN THE HEART OF MONACO
Amidst all Monaco has to offer that is distinct and rare, I had the unique opportunity last year of visiting one of the Principality’s best kept secrets, the private wine cellars of the iconic Hotel de Paris.
Carved into solid rock, sheltered from the Mediterranean sun above, the cellars were built in 1874 around ten years after the inauguration of the Hotel de Paris itself, to house some of the finest champagnes, wines and spirits in the world.
Today the cellars are home to over 400,000 bottles; they cover an area of 1500m2, spread ten metres underground in the heart of Monte-Carlo between the Hotel de Paris and Hotel Hermitage, signature establishments of Monaco’s SBM – Societe des Bains de Mer. In recent years, 400m2 have been assigned for wine tasting, and the preservation and aging of vintage wines, champagnes and spirits such cognac, under the most optimal conditions possible – temperatures that are maintained at between 13°C and 14°C, and a level of humidity that remains constant at 80%.
The cellars were the vision of a remarkable woman Marie Blanc, wife of the founder of modern day Monte-Carlo, businessman Francois Blanc. Her ideal was to provide Monte-Carlo’s premier establishments – the Hotel de Paris and Casino of Monte-Carlo (completed in 1863 on its current site) – with a wine cellar of a standard befitting Monaco’s burgeoning clientele, which began to arrive in abundance from the upper echelons of European society, with the construction of a railway line joining Monte-Carlo to Nice in 1867.
At the outbreak of World War II the Head of the Hotel’s Wine Cellar – the ‘Chef Caviste’ – ordered a section of the cellar to be sealed by a cement wall, behind which 20,000 rare bottles, the Hotel’s best silverware and the fortunes of a number of the Hotel’s valued clients, were saved from destruction, waste and theft.
Today, all major wine regions of France are solidly represented – Champagne, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Provence with a strong emphasis on the regions of Bordeaux, particularly Pauillac. The selection of fine vintages available is extensive and includes the most famous of Grand Crus – Chateaux Petrus, Latour, Lafite-Rothschild, Cheval Blanc, Margaux and d’Yquem. Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne and Moet & Chandon’s Dom Perignon are also in constant demand; similarly two outstanding cognacs, the exclusive – la Reserve 1er Empire 1810 and – la Reserve Louis-Philippe 1865 – attest to the refinement and rarity of the extraordinary collection.
The cellars boast not only a vast patrimony of fine wines and spirits, but provide a back drop for wine tasting and the transmission of knowledge amongst wine professionals – sommeliers, hotel managers, maitre d’hotel and seasoned amateurs – providing a forum for which to educate and broaden an appreciation and understanding, of the field of oenology.
In this context the Hotel de Paris offers select guests a legendary experience – exclusive tours and wine tastings for small, select groups, and/or the ‘piece de resistance’ which I had the privilege of attending, a private dinner for up to 40 people in this magical setting. An unforgettable evening, uniquely exclusive that I would recommend to all who appreciate grace, delicacy and distinction.
For more information contact: telephone: +377 98 06 98 04 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Photographs courtesy of the Societe des Bains de Mer, Monte-Carlo