The Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, nestled amidst the serene beauty of Lake Como, is not just a luxurious escape; it’s a testament to refinement and wine and dining excellence. Originally a private residence constructed in 1854 for a noble family, it transformed into a hotel in 1873. Under the stewardship of Swiss hotelier Arturo Bucher in 1918, it gained a reputation as a distinguished wine and food destination. Today, led by Arturo’s grandson Gianfranco and great-grandson Jan, the Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni stands as an unparalleled wine and dining destination for its discerning patrons, boasting a wine cellar stocked with some of the finest French and Italian wines.
Distinguishing itself from the majority of Italian restaurants that primarily offer Italian wines, the hotel’s onsite Restaurant Mistral presents an extensive 400-bottle wine list, evenly split between French and Italian selections. This impressive array includes 45 Champagnes, 25 different sparkling Italian wines, iconic Super Tuscans and Barolos, and a substantial collection of Bordeaux and Burgundy wines, encompassing six vintages of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti dating back to 1966. Gianfranco Bucher, the proprietor, shares that French wines have historically been esteemed, and their inclusion in the list remains essential, catering to both the hotel’s French clientele and wine enthusiasts.
In preparation for Gianfranco’s eventual retirement, his son Jan, the general manager, is honing his wine expertise with a Level 2 certification from the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). This father-son duo has curated an impressive wine list, featuring sought-after grower Champagnes and iconic labels such as Dom Pérignon, Krug, and Louis Roederer Cristal. The wine collection extends to Burgundy with notable selections like Domaine Henri Boillot Bâtard-Montrachet and Domaine Bonneau du Martray Corton-Charlemagne. Bordeaux enthusiasts can indulge in a diverse range, including Château Cos d’Estournel and Château Cheval Blanc. The Buchers’ dedication to wine enjoyment is exemplified by their insistence on serving these prized bottles in the restaurant rather than allowing them to be taken home by collectors, emphasizing the importance of savoring wine alongside a meal.
Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni also caters to aficionados of Italian wine, with an impressive representation of Piemonte’s Barolo and Barbaresco, as well as an extensive selection from Tuscany, featuring Montalcino, Montepulciano, Bolgheri, and Chianti. Chef Ettore Bocchia’s Mediterranean cuisine complements the vast wine cellar, with ingredients sourced from across Europe. His menu offers delicate flavor pairings that harmonize with the subtleties of some of the world’s finest wines. From Bordeaux to Bolgheri, diners can savor the ‘Wagyu in Three Versions,’ featuring grilled sirloin, carpaccio, and tartare in a single course. For an exquisite culinary experience, guests can opt for the seven-course tasting menu, combining a la carte selections with specially crafted dishes.
Sommelier Omar Valente, who has been head sommelier for six years, proudly showcases the hotel’s collection of local wines from the Oltrepo Pavere, Terre Lariane, and Valtellina regions. Valente employs his expertise to guide guests toward lesser-known wines, tailoring recommendations based on their preferences. He believes in the emotional connection to wine when enjoyed in the region where it’s produced, adding depth to the tasting experience.
The Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni’s wine program extends beyond its cellars, with Gianfranco Bucher personally visiting select wineries to understand their techniques, terroir, and innovations. This dedication to sourcing exceptional wines underscores the hotel’s commitment to offering a memorable wine and dining experience. Over the years, the hotel has been a haven for celebrities and dignitaries, including Sir Winston Churchill, President Theodore Roosevelt, President John F. Kennedy, Clark Gable, and Mary Pickford. While famous guests often prefer to remain discreet, they can always rely on the Buchers and their head sommelier for expert wine recommendations.