The View from the Salthouse Harbour Hotel
Pinot Grigio, Prosecco & Palates
Diogo Abreu has been General Manager of the Salthouse Harbour Hotel for nearly 5 years and leads the team that has established the hotel as one of the finest luxury hotels in the East of England. Here, our editor Richard Stewart quizzes the charming boss on what some would see as a brave move….why 2 staple wine favourites are nowhere to be found on the Hotel’s wine list?:
Soave and Cremant – these are the wines that have had the audacity to replace Pinot Grigio & Prosecco on the Salthouse’s wine list, despite the best laid plans of those producers’ marketing departments and it’s all about “passion”, “effort”, “education” & “not following the crowd”. “We want to offer the best quality-to-value ratio that is possible” explains Diogo. “We are passionate about wine and a huge amount of time and effort goes in to trying to help educate and impress our guests”. Sitting in the Hotels’ Eaterie restaurant and chatting to Diogo, it is obvious that the story behind the wine is key. “I want my entire team to know & understand the message. We can offer something better and whether it’s from visiting vineyards or by regularly tasting our suppliers’ recommendations, we can challenge ourselves to understand the journey” continues Diogo.
The challenge seems to be paying off. Diogo enthusiastically boasts that “9 out of 10” guests are converts having had to peruse perhaps a more unfamiliar wine list, digest advice from a knowledgeable server and then set the tastebuds to work. “There are so many grape varieties out there that don’t necessarily result in a bottle that is more expensive than you are used to. Couple this with refusing to have a ‘that’ll do’ attitude and you can see that it’s not about us being stubborn!” jokes Diogo.
Is the familiarity with our wine a British ‘thing’? I ask Diogo. “Possibly” is the immediate and obviously non-confrontational answer! “In Italy – especially in the north – Pinot Grigio & Prosecco are not readily available”. This is a comment that I readily nod along to, as this has been my experience on my travels.
Although Diogo admits that he can talk about wine all day, the morning is running away with us, so there is only time for one more observation. “People shouldn’t judge a grape on an experience”. I look for more information….. “A certain bottle may not have delivered in the past, but that doesn’t mean that the variety should be dismissed in the future”. Wise words to finish.