London wine lovers have a cosy new sanctuary, steeped in tradition and history. The Adega Lounge is tucked away in a corner of the historic building on Richmond Row that houses Aroma. A large selection of bottles and casks of new wine are displayed on the yellow brick walls of the room. The bottles are arranged in a historic fashion starting with countries in the Middle East where wine was first produced 6000 years ago. We start at the beginning and work our way around the world. It is like a United Nations of wine, says Aroma owner Felipe Gomes.
The showpiece of the room is a vault dug into the floor which holds 220 bottles of port and other fine wines. The vault is lined with sand, ancient pottery and bronze medallions which represents the long history of wine-making. The vault is covered with panels of heavy tempered glass set into the floor, allowing patrons to walk right across it. New grape vines are now growing up along the doorway to the cellar to create a living green gateway. Gomes says the room was all boarded up when the restaurant first moved in. He became curious and asked his landlord for permission to open it up and explore. He found the room was stacked to the ceiling with boxes of old financial records.
Gomes immediately saw the spaces potential and contractors began stripping it down to the original brick walls and solid walnut beams. He says the wine cellar has become an instant hit with patrons and expects it will become a destination for oenophiles from a wide area. There is just nothing in London like this, he says. The recent official opening served as a fundraiser for the Robotic Surgery Simulation Centre at University Hospital of the London Health Sciences Centre and featured wine tasting, Mediterranean cuisine and jazz performances.
Time Capsule Wine Cultural Vault
Our underground vault holds a number of vintage Port wines and other wines of superior value.
The pottery represents the cultures that formed the history of wines. Archaeological evidence suggests that the earliest wine production came from sites in Georgia and Iran dating from 6000 to 5000 BC. The archaeological evidence becomes clearer, and points to the domestication of the grapevine, in Early Bronze Age sites of the Near East and Egypt from around the third millennium BC. Interesting to note, wine in ancient Egypt was predominantly red, however a recent discovery has revealed the first ever evidence of white wine in ancient Egypt. Residue from five clay amphorae from Pharaoh Tutankhamens tomb yielded traces of white wine.
The two wine amphorae represent the containers that were the principal means in ancient Egypt of transporting and storing the wine. The bronze medallions are prominent to the discoverers that began with the Portuguese in the late 1400s. These discoverers brought the world together by introducing the different vines that gave birth to the New World wine that we are familiar with today in the Americas, Australia and Africa.
The sand represents the bottom of the oceans, where so many ships sank in the many storms faced by the discoverers, looking to share their wine cargo and those in search of the New World. In 2008, a shipwreck was discovered off the south coast of Cyprus. The ship was found with the type of amphorae commonly used to carry red wine from the Aegean island of Chios. This wine is reputed to be the most expensive of classical antiquity. The importance of this discovery is significant in assisting scientists to learn more about the sea trade and commerce.