25 February 2009
The Cellars of the Hôtel de Paris - the Cognac
We've been invited on a private tour of the famous cellar of the Hôtel de Paris in Monaco. This is a wine connoisseur's paradise in the largest hotel cellar in the world. 650,000 bottles of the world's finest vintages are stored in this vast cellar: 1,500 square metres hewn out of the rock of Monaco in 1874.
The cellars are not open to the public so this is a tremendous privilege. I was lucky enough to be included in a private visit arranged by my friend, Nicolas and I thank him so much for that - and of course, you are invited too.
A group of Nicolas' friends met in the Square Beaumarchais outside the Hôtel Hermitage - the entrance to the cellar is nearby. We enter an enormous commercial lift and descend 10 metres below ground. It took 100 artisans one and a half years to create this cellar with its one and a half kilometres of wine racks.
At the entrance stand four huge wooden barrels of cognac - one of which, a 'reserve premier empire' dates back to 1810. In the photos you see the Vieilles Réserves Hôtel de Paris and Vieille Réserve Louis Philippe.
You see can as we look beyond the entrance that each area of wine in France has its own section but we'll see that more clearly another day, so don't strain your eyes.
There is a lot of information to impart on this amazing cellar, so I'll write a little each day to illustrate the photographs. We have only just begun...do come back tomorrow.
I struggled somewhat with the photographs for this series. With the low lighting in the cellar, no flash didn't work - or rarely. Flash was too harsh but I learned a lot from it and what I could have done - so apologies in advance.