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7 questions & answers to the head sommelier of one of the most luxurious hotels in the world

30 June 2017
Dimitar Dimitrov - photo courtesy of Dimitar Dimitrov
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Dubai, 2017 -  The unique series of custom wine cabinets recently manufactured by IGLU for the Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara Restaurant, Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah Dubai, is considered one of the most intriguing projects Iglu has ever manufactured.

Technology, temperature, humidity set, specific dedicated controller, as well as the highly detailed design by the consultancy firm and the technical staff were all set and clear from the beginning.

Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara is recognized to be the best seafood restaurant  as Nathan Outlaw is an award winning and Michelin starred chef from England, specializing  in seafood.

Iglu provided  refrigerated and frozen front of house cabinets and counters, as well as  a full cave system composed of  7 highly customized wine units.


The wine displays entirely made of brass, but with two different finishes: the body is hairline finished, while the door frames are mirror finished. The one-of-a-kind backside panel with antique together with the solid bronzed rod racks emphasizes the romantic mood of the cabinet light.
The 7 units contain more than 1000 bottles perfectly preserved thanks to a touchscreen computer which in addition to provide the temperature control, the managment of lights, the electronic locks, it provides the full wine archive search tool, also able to give the position of each bottle within the 7 units cases.


A few months after the installation we went back to Mr. Dimitrov - Head Sommelier, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, Dubai for a quick interview that explains what selling wine really means in a location such as the Burj Al Arab, Jumeirah, starting with a short description of the wine cellar:

“The new cellar holds 1100 bottles of Red Wine and Champagne and  is really a game changer for the front view of the restaurant, as guests and visitors are astounded by the look of it. The gold effect, lighting and bottles are all perfectly lined up and have a strong effect and great first impression upon approaching the entrance”.


1. Who decided to renew the restaurant with a wine room?
“The request came from myself. As a wine professional and wine lover, I always wanted to have a cellar at this amazing property, and finally we have something beautiful to showcase our extensive wine collection”.


2. The 3 favorite bottles of the Chef and Sommelier

“Very difficult question, but if I have to narrow it down to 3 that I really love from the list, then they are: 
• Terlan Quarz Sauvignon Blanc, Terlano, Italy;  
• Château Mouton Rothschild 1er Grand Cru Classé 1982 Bordeaux, France; 
• Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, Burgundy, France”

3. The most prestigious bottle you have onsite.

“This is very subjective but I think The Graham’s Ne Oublie 1882 Tawny Port, which costs AED 99,990 (about very prestigious; but  I should also add the 1982 Château Lafite-Rothschild 1er Grand Cru Classé, Bordeaux France, that sells  for AED 81,000.

4. What is the wine specially requested from Chef Nathan Outlaw for his menu? And for what plate? 

“We brought in a great sparkling wine from Cornwall called Camel Valley, which comes from Nathan’s own County, as well as a specially imported a white wine from the same area called Knightor Winery ‘Trevannion’, made only of local English grapes.”

5. How often do you do wine pairing sessions between Chef and F&B, to review the wine list?

We taste and pair wines with Pete (Nathan’s super second, who is in charge of Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara when he is away) regularly - “every time we have a change in a dish or wine on the pairing menu, we taste both the food and the wine together.”
6. How do you like the wine room. Is it as you expected it?

“It is a great addition to the restaurant, I am very happy with the way it turned out, I knew it would be glamorous, but the final result  blew me away.”

7. Could you explain how your electronic controller search tool works and its pro’s and con’s (positioning of the bottles + research tool) 

“We have implemented a prototype searching system designed by Iglu, so we can find the bottles in the cellar easily. For example when we search for specific name or bin number the screen shows an image of the fridge and its number, the bottles which we are searching for, highlighted on the screen, with row location and fridge door number. This helps us to locate the wines faster, as we have about 1100 bottles on display. As it is a prototype, we continuously work on upgrading the process; now we are looking into a way to make the program tell us what we have consumed during the service period and run a report for us based on which we will be able to replenish the cellar the next day”.


And of course Iglu will have the solutions also for that.


About the Location 
First floor, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah
Cuisine: Modern British Seafood, prepared with artful simplicity

Peter Graham Biggs – Head Chef of Nathan Outlaw at Al Mahara;
Dimitar Dimitrov - Head Sommelier, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah