March 22, 2023
When 67 Pall Mall opened in 2015, it was the first private members’ establishment to do so in London’s St James’s in over 100 years. It has provided a similar shake-up to the established order in its first two seasons in the Swiss ski resort Verbier.
This time, the setting didn’t need a refreshing change from stuffiness – Verbier has never been strait-laced. However, the club’s ethos of providing access to a world’s worth of fine wines at sensible prices, along with good food and a convivial atmosphere, has been a welcome addition to the nightlife and a different side to the resort’s usual “luxury drinks” offerings, which tend to be restaurant wines at multiples of their RRP, or magnums of expensive vodka with a firework and bucket of mixers. At 67 Pall Mall, you can choose from over 3,000 bottles and 500 wines by the glass.
The club is based in a large contemporary-styled chalet building with views across the Valais, located on Verbier’s main road (between the Médran lift and the roundabout). The space used to be Vie Montagne – also a members’ club, but without 67 Pall Mall Verbier’s benefit of shared membership with establishments in London, Singapore and, over the next few years, Beaune and Bordeaux.
Non-members can enjoy exploring the huge selection of wines (detailed on iPads rather than the sommeliers having to lug about volumes of wine lists) in the Bar à Vin. But, if you ski regularly in Verbier, it’s worth seeking nomination for membership – and not only for access to the members-only dining room and terrace.
Members have access to one of the most impressive gyms in the Alps, with equipment and training that professional athletes have taken advantage of. The club also operates a concierge service, connecting members to the best equipment rental (Ski Service – which provides specialist off-piste and touring kit as well as regular skis and snowboards); coaching (Warren Smith Ski Academy) and mountain guides; and even unusual specialists, such as an action photographer (Melody Sky).
The greatest benefit of membership, however, is if you are a wine enthusiast. Every week, the sommeliers at the club run tastings and talks about the minutiae of winemaking – Brummell enjoyed nerding out to Michel Paszto’s exploration of “The science of wine aromas”. And then there are grander occasions, with guests from the world of wine and food.
For example, there are two places left on a special week from 5-12 March, with accommodation at the luxurious Chalet No. 14, dinners cooked by Mats Vollmer, owner-chef of Malmö’s two Michelin-starred Vollmers restaurant, and bottles being poured by the winemakers or owners of Château Figeac, Château La Conseillante, Le Pin, Vieux Château Certan and Château Montrose, plus a surprise guest from Bordeaux. Previously, the club has hosted a wine pairing dinner cooked by Michel Roux Jr, and more are in the pipeline.
Then there are the local opportunities. There is a reason that Verbier, of all the luxury ski resorts, was chosen as the location for 67’s first mountain club. Some of the major investors in the organisation have houses there and part of the reason for that choice – rather than, say, Courchevel or Val d’Isère – is the Valais and its wine production. As you climb up to any of the ski resorts in this area, you will pass vines… just as you do passing through the Vaud canton on your way to Verbier from Geneva. And, whatever time of year, 67 Pall Mall can arrange visits to the vineyards and winemakers.
One highly recommended stop-off is in Lavaux. This Unesco World Heritage Site is a collection of higgledy-piggledy villages and walled parcels of vines on the Lake Geneva shoreline, and home to winemakers such as Blaise Duboux, who produces wonderfully diverse wines. Duboux makes excellent wines with the classic Swiss grape Chasselas (aka fendant), which differ dramatically depending on the parcel where they were grown, and works with both familiar varietals (chardonnay), indigenous Swiss grapes (räuschling) and some in between (plant robez, literally “the stolen plant”, a version of gamay).
The reputation of Swiss wines outside the cantons is lower than it should be, partly because of too many glasses of cheap and nasty fendant drunk with fondues, but largely because of unfamiliarity – production of the best stuff is limited, and it rarely escapes the country. 67 Pall Mall Verbier goes a long way to correcting both. Among the 500 wines by the glass offered are Swiss wines from La Mémoire des Vins Suisses – a library of the best Swiss wines as curated by an association of the top 50 or so producers and 30 independent experts. Only 13 venues in the world have access to La Mémoire.
Brummell asked Lucy Meza Ortega, head sommelier at 67 Pall Mall Verbier, to recommend a Swiss wine to suit various moments of a day’s skiing or mountain biking in Verbier and a more sophisticated alternative to beer, glühwein and Jägerbombs.
A light wine for lunch
MT Müller-Thurgau 2021, Schlossgut Bachtobel
‘Müller-Thurgau, aka riesling-sylvaner, is a fresh wine with floral aromas – mainly apple and peach blossoms. Perfect for awakening the palate gently and, at 12.5%, is light enough that you won’t be badly affected if you carry on skiing, riding or hiking.’
Something refreshing at the end of the day
Nothing Left To Lose 2021, Schwarzenbach Weinbau
‘This pinot noir and chardonnay sparkling wine was an experiment by the winemakers from near Zürich – they named it that way in case it didn’t turn out well – at least they would have learned from the experience! Thankfully for us, it turned out great… beautiful freshness and light, fruity aromas. It’s wonderful as a thirst-quenching après-ski wine.’
As an apéritif with cheese and charcuterie
Buxus Sauvignon Blanc 2019, Louis Bovard
‘It has high acidity to cut through the fattiness of the cheese, but it’s aged in oak barrels, which builds some body to help it hold its own against even the strongest of cheese.’
To accompany a mushroom risotto
Pinot Noir Grand Maître 2017, Roman Hermann
‘Actually, on our current menu, the chef offers a Jerusalem artichoke and black Périgord truffle risotto, and I recommend this smoky, earthy pinot noir. It really highlights the rich umami earthiness of truffle or fungi.’
To accompany a fillet of beef
Cayas Réserve 2013, domaine Jean-René Germanier
‘This is a typical syrah from Valais, aged so that the tannins become silky smooth, with freshly ground black pepper notes that work beautifully with beef – especially fillet with a pepper sauce.’
Something sweet for the end of the evening
Ambre 2007, Christophe Abbet
‘This sweet wine from Martigny, just below Verbier, blends the freshness of the petite arvine grape with the body of Marsanne. Once it has evolved with age, it is beautiful to pair with most desserts.’
Brummell Magazine: Alpine Wine
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