Tour of the world’s most famous wine cellar, Enoteca Pinchiorri’s with Alessandro Tomberli
To wine enthusiasts throughout the world, Via Ghibellina 87- Florence is perhaps comparable to Disneyland, Scrooge McDuck’s money bin and the Divine Comedy’s Heaven, raised to the second power and added up.
Via Ghibellina 87 is where they will find the entrance to Annie Feolde’s and Giorgio Pinchiorri’s Enoteca Pnichiorri, one of the world’s best-known and exclusive restaurants (3 Michelin stars), and hidden beneath its floor is the planet earth’s most precious and best-stocked wine cellar: over 100.000 bottles and 4.000 labels by the most prestigious wineries, in addition to the rarest and most expensive wines you can ask for. The great man behind all of this is Giorgio Pinchiorri, whom Luigi Veronelli once described as the “author of an enormous, legendary, matchless wine cellar”.
And the wine cellar is now more “enormous, legendary and matchless” than before, thanks to Alessandro Tomberli, the Enoteca’s Maître de Maison and chief Sommelier, thirty years spent working side by side with Giorgio Pinchiorri and celebrated with a huge surprise party. Alessandro guided us into this magic wine cave, open to customers for visits upon request, and which he has greatly contributed to make what it is today.
Are there really so many bottles here?
There are about 90.000 bottles in this wine cellar, kept at an even temperature of 14 to 16 degrees and humidity level between 70-75%. Stored in another nearby wine cellar are 20.000 wines. Therefore, 110.000 bottles in all from 19 different countries.
What is the total number of bottles sold per year?
15.000 bottles uncorked and sold.
And the main geographical origin is?
France and Italy, with Tuscany and Piedmont coming first.
What are the most interesting emerging countries?
In my opinion, England, which has been producing some excellent sparkling wines in the Sussex area for the past ten years, as a result of a temperature increase of 2°C in that area, due to global warming, to the advantage of the country’s wine production.
Upon what principle is your wine selection based?
The quality and history of a wine. We also purchase new wines, of course, but we always make sure there are at least three or four vintages we can count on to check that product quality is maintained over time.
How often does the management taste the wines?
Every day for half an hour, at least a couple of wines, usually at dinner, the sommelier, the cellar master, Mr. Pinchiorri and I.
What are the rarest n. 1 bottles you have?
From Tignanello, of which we have the n.1 bottle of 1971, the first bottle of the first vintage by Piero Antinori, to La Tache 1985, to Sassicaia.
What wines were barely heard of when the Enoteca discovered them and have become true cult wines over time?
Tignanello, Sassicaia, Masseto, Burgundy wines. In 1971, Mr. Pinchiorri invested in the first direct importation of Bordeaux wines, and then he travelled all over Burgundy to meet small vignerons and he discovered Henry Jayer, Coche Dury, La Fleur-Pétrus wines, which are now unobtainable, as there is very little supply and high demand. When Mr. Pinchiorri first met Henry Jayer, he was an obscure wine producer, and now he ranks second behind Romanée Conti at international auctions.
What is your wine cellar management based on?
The highest standard of tidiness and cleanliness, and a clear and simple inventory tracking system.
Our wines are catalogued and sorted like books in a library: according to the country, the zone, the wine type and the vintage.
What would you say is the greatest lesson you learned from Giorgio Pinchiorri?
If you are selling a wine that the customer specifically asked for, there is no need of you, anyone can uncork the bottle. The sommelier’s main responsibility is to sell the wine that the Enoteca wants to sell and that the customer has not chosen. And also, the sommelier, a job that in Italy has never been seen as “important” as it is in France where the sommellerie staff is not part of the dining room staff, is the most elegant figure in the restaurant, with carefully cultivated poise and gestures. Uncorking a wine, pouring it into the decanter or glasses should be the most beautiful thing the customer has ever seen.
There are rumours about his fabulous private collection ….
The destiny of those wines lies in his hands only, he is the only person who can decide if and to whom he will sell his private bottles…