In 2020, British actor Idris Elba got into the wine business when he partnered with two French estates to develop his own label, Porte Noire.
The “Beast” actor curated a Champagne and rosé for his brand; a Provence rosé and blanc de blancs Grand Cru Champagne are produced by Chateau Sainte Marguerite and Champagne Sanger, respectively. The wines are distributed in the UK by Enotria&Coe.
Why He Killed Wine Bar Expansion
Once his wine debuted, Elba, who has a net worth of about $40 million, decided to expand into wine bars. He opened one in London and was attempting recently to open one in Battersea, a large district in south London. But he hit a snag.
The actor killed the plans, said his business partner, because he could not find staff. His partner is wine expert David Farber, who now works with Elba at Porte Noire.
“In the end, we couldn’t get staff. Without staff, you can’t run a restaurant,” Farber told The Standard. The wine bar was to open in the Battersea Power Station, a 1941 former power station that has been re-imagined as an entertainment hub in the south London district.
A Wine Bar Success
Meanwhile, Elba’s wine bar in North London is thriving. Porte Noire Gastronomic Wine Bar opened in October 2021.
“Porte Noire, Elba’s first venture into hospitality, looks like it should be in London’s poshest neighborhood, Mayfair, but instead, it’s just a 10-minute walk from King’s Cross station,” Insider reported.
The Insider reviewer described it as fancy, yet “there were a few homey details, including a dog treat container, which brought warmth and a little more personality into the space.”
“If Idris was a bar, this would be it,” Farber joked to Insider.
The wine list offers 30 reds and 30 whites. On the menu, dishes start at £10.5 (about $11) for a Mushroom arancini, sun dried tomato pesto, for example. Charcuterie plates are £8 ($9) each. There is also a brunch menu that includes selections like: Italian Steak tartare, Sourdough £18.5 ($21); Beetroot, smoked ricotta, pistachio dressing £14 ($16); Cauliflower steak, romesco sauce, almonds £15 ($17).
According to the wine bar’s website, Porte Noire was born out of a “shared passion for wine” between Farber and Elba, who has racked up a long list of acting credits from “The Wire” to “Luther” to “Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.”
The intimate design for Porte Noire Gastronomic Wine Bar was inspired by the wine bars of continental Europe.
No word if Elba will revisit the abandoned Battersea plans or if he will expand his wine bar to the U.S.