The Wine Cellars of the Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo
Inaugurated in 1874 by Marie Blanc, wife and founder of the Société des Bains de Mer the Cellars of the Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo were originally a place where vintage wines were bottled having arrived in barrels from Bordeaux, thus guaranteeing what was not yet known as wine traceability.
During the Second World War, part of the cellar was sealed off by a wall consisting of seven layers of bottles, behind which 20,000 bottles – including the most precious - were hidden and therefore eluded seizure. The treasure of the Cellars was protected, as was the hotel’s silverware and even the fortune of some of the hotel’s guests who were hunted down by the anti-Semitic madness of the Nazis.
Once peace was restored at the end of 1945, the reopening of the Cellars was entrusted to a prestigious client, Sir Winston Churchill, and an old 1811 rum was cracked open for the occasion, a few bottles of which still take pride of place in the Cellars.
During the 1960s, wine traceability took on a whole new form with the introduction of estate bottling meaning the Cellars at the Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo were gradually transformed into what they are today: a place for storing bottles instead of barrels.
In April 1976, around a makeshift table in the Cellars, an unexpected celebration took place: Prince Rainier III of Monaco and the Princess Grace celebrated their twentieth wedding anniversary along with a few loved ones.
The Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo Cellars underwent a rebirth 25 years ago with the opening of the restaurant Le Louis XV by Alain Ducasse, who gradually brought honour to the sommelier profession in all the restaurants of the Société des Bains de Mer.
Today the Cellars are not only part of the company’s heritage, they are also a place for sharing knowledge about wine, as evidenced by the weekly tasting sessions organised by cellarman Gennaro Ioro where sommeliers, maîtres d’hôtel, head waiters or managers congregate to expand their oenological knowledge.
And now, alongside the Cellars’ oldest bottle - an 1800 vintage - we look to the future with religious silence: in the ageing cellar: in the ageing cellar, exceptional vintages from 2001, 2005 and 2009 await their own moments of glory before being sampled in the establishments of the Société des Bains de Mer in five, ten or fifty years.