A new £15m London restaurant is set to stock a 60,000-bottle wine cellar with decades-old vintages of the world's most famous wines, including 100 vintages of Bordeaux's Chateau d'Yquem. Owner Leonid Shutov talks to decanter.com about his grand plan.
Shutov (pictured), who already owns Bob Bob Ricard in London’s Soho area, has signed a £15m deal to acquire the lease of 12 St James’s Street in the heart of the UK capital’s plush Mayfair area.
An 18-month plan is now underway to open a 250-cover, 200,000 square-foot luxury restaurant fusing English classics and Russian delicacies.
It’s been a two-year search for the site. ‘I’m not in the habit of making compromises,’ Shutov told decanter.com in an interview. It was 12 St James’s grand dining room space that won him over; something of a rare find in central London.
More than that, though, it is Shutov’s ambition to create one of the best-stocked wine cellars in the UK restaurant trade that has grabbed attention.
An array of fine and rare wines are set to grace racks in a proposed 60,000-bottle cellar at the restaurant. Regular 75cl bottles will jostle for space with magnums, jeroboams and even 12-litre balthazars.
There is set to be 100 vintages of Yquem dating back to 1887, Krug Champagne going back to 1915 and to feature Krug Clos du Mesnil and Krug Clos d’Ambonnay, as well as libraries of first-growth Chateaux Haut-Brion and Margaux.
‘The wine cellar is around two thirds complete, so there’s still quite a lot to do,’ said Shutov.
He is committed to offering many wines by the glass, including 10 vintages of Yquem from the past 30 years, and 1980s vintages of Mouton-Rothschild.
New World wines, such as those from the US, Australia and New Zealand, will also be represented, but ‘the reality is that Bordeaux is what people want to drink’. There will, though, also be a healthy amount of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti and Super-Tuscans and Spanish wine. ‘I have always been a big fan of Vega Sicilia,’ Shutov added.
Wines are generally sourced from the open market, which is a labour-intensive process. ‘We’re out there looking with everybody else. It’s a daily routine,’ said Shutov. ‘We also normally try to have a close relationship with the producers, and that helps, but primarily in terms of advice rather than acquiring stock.’
There is heightened concern over provenance in the trade, particularly following the recent conviction of fine wine fraudster Rudy Kurniawan in New York.
‘As an independent restaurant, we can’t be in a position to buy stock with unproven provenance,’ Shutov said. ‘We’re not necessarily just talking about authenticity, it’s also about what kind of life that wine has had. We want ex-Chateau or as close as we can get.
‘You do have to be careful. We don’t just buy on price.’
Shutov’s ‘Biblioteka‘ is set to open in mid-2015 and will include private dining space for 75 people and a vintage Champagne bar.
Written by Chris Mercer