red car
red car

The Ferrari 275 is a series of front-engined V12-powered grand touring automobiles with two-seater coupé and spider bodies produced between 1964 and 1968

Sweden is not the first country that comes to mind when thinking of automotive nirvana, but Paris-based auction house Artcurial has found a treasure trove there that it is putting to auction in Monaco this week. The main feature is a selection of beautiful Porsche 911s from the pre-1997 switch to water-cooled engines: there’s something for every Porsche aficionado, at almost every budget. There are some deliciously specified examples being sold on behalf of a Swedish collector with impeccable taste. It is also cleverly marketed as a no-reserve auction, with some eye-catchingly low estimates: a surefire way to attract interest. Go, enjoy, but beware of overpaying in the heat of the no-reserve moment.

Matthieu Lamoure from Artcurial says:

This W Collection, owned by Staffan Wittmark, is exceptional because it represents the culmination of a man’s lifelong passion for creation. As European importer of the ready-to-wear brand Gant and the brand’s artistic director, he studied design and put together the models in his collection with a rare aesthetic sensibility. His 26 Porsches, presented in the sale, work by color pair, for example, and by model. He defined the codes of his collection by growing up on the streets of Stockholm with a taste for line and design excellence. For this reason, three major brands have marked his passion: Porsche, Ferrari and Mercedes. For him, the lines created by Pininfarina for Ferrari represent the pinnacle of aerodynamic elegance.

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car

The Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing is a two-seat sports car that was produced by Mercedes-Benz from 1954 to 1957 as a gullwinged coupé and from 1957 to 1963 as a roadster

The second important parameter of this collection is that Staffan Wittmark has decided to entrust his collection to the market, with no reserve price. He is turning the page like a collector who has reached the end of one project and is ready to start another. We will therefore start the auction at 50% of the low estimate, allowing all buyers to try their luck. What’s also exceptional is the condition of the cars. They are either fully restored, like the 9 Ferraris certified by the Ferrari factory, or the Mercedes 300 SL Gullwing and Roadster.

car

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL was capable of reaching speeds of up to 263 km/h (163 mph), earning it a reputation as a sports car racing champion and making it the fastest production car of its time

Read more: BMW XM Review

To find 44 cars offered by a single owner gives the ensemble a wonderful provenance. and in such restored condition is a rare element in any collection.

Quality, provenance, exclusivity and passion are the watchwords of this fabulous sale!

car

The designation “SL” is an abbreviation of the German term “super-leicht,” meaning “super-light,” a reference to the car’s racing-bred lightweight construction

 

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Green sports car, boats in background

LUX drives the latest iteration of one of the world’s great supercars, the V10 engined, open-topped Huracan Spyder

Green sports car, boats in background

It may look good outside the yacht club…

The latest evolution of the flamboyant Italian car company’s brilliant two-seater looks like something run by an avatar from a games console, more mini-spaceship than vehicle. With the roof down (Spyder is Lamborghese for convertible) it looks more like a pair of aliens (driver and passenger) are taking a little tour of Earth.

Colour is a fundamental element of cars like these. If our Huracan had been green, purple, orange or any of the other eye-popping colours Lambo drivers like to choose, it would have been one kind of statement of personality: perhaps the most attention-grabbing car in the world in an attention-seeking hue. But in a dark metallic grey, it looked intriguing: more space vehicle, less boulevard poser. The interior was also restrained, black leather with blue piping, although the company’s design flair was everywhere, playing on hexagonal patterns and forms. This is not a car that could be mistaken for any other.

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The Huracan has a V10 motor that howls on startup and growls its way around town, quickly turning again to a howl when you find a patch of open road.

Green sports car on empty road

…but the Evo Spyder is happiest on fast, empty roads

With the wildness of the shape and the sound, you may expect the Huracan also to be wild to drive: like trying to tame a bucking bronco, or the raging bull that is Lamborghini’s emblem. And here, you would be in for a positive, or negative, surprise, depending on how you like your steeds. While it’s sensationally fast, corners flat and steers racily, the Huracan is underpinned by the latest driving technology engineered in association with its parent company, which also owns more sober brands like Audi and Bentley.

Shoot out of a roundabout into an unexpectedly tight curve and the car just clings on, happily. Accelerate through a wet corner and hit a patch of slippery leaves? Lamborghinis of earlier generations may have skidded or bucked, heartstoppingly for the driver; the Huracan just uses its four wheel drive system and fancy electrics to keep you zooming on track.

It makes for a thrilling experience for a passenger, who can enjoy the sounds and feel and looks the car receives, without feeling like they are in peril.

green drop top sports car

The Huracan Evo is powered by a V10 engine, of a kind that will never be made again, that makes a characteristic howl

Read more: Ferrari F8 Tributo and F8 Spider

And let’s spend a final moment on that engine. It is what the motoring world calls a “naturally aspirated” V10, with no turbocharger to help it. That means that its noise and punch get steadily more thrilling as you rise up through the rev range: maximum yowl means maximum acceleration, and you have to get there either by whipping down through the gears with the paddle shift by the steering wheel, or allow the revs to build up in each gear. It’s something that even current hyper efficient petrol engines, with turbos or electric hybrid help, can’t offer, let alone electric motors. And given the tiny mileages these cars tend to cover, you don’t even need to worry about whether you are being green.

 

Find out more: lamborghini.com

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Blue car going fast on a road

We drive the ultimate incarnation of Aston Martin’s four wheel drive SUV supercar

A blue SUV car driving on a road in the country side

The Aston Martin DBX707 offers a luxury nexus of dynamics, effortless style and performance © Max Earey

Not many of the glamorous supercars from what some people refer to as the golden age of motoring have remained. You can’t buy a new Jensen, Bizzarrini or De Tomaso now. One brand that somehow managed to overcome many bumps its historical road, and remain proudly independent – rather than simply a brand extension of a large conglomerate – is Aston Martin. After teetering on the brink of extinction in the 1980s and 90s, the company is now going through something of a golden era of its own, with the hyper wealthy fighting to get hold of the astonishing Valkyrie hypercar, and the Vantage and DB12 sports cars now appealing to new generations of young, affluent professionals and enthusiasts.

Times have changed, though, and every car company, however sporting its origins, needs to have in its portfolio a type of car that would make its own historic racing drivers cringe. The SUV, a type of big, high, spacious and powerful vehicle, is, arguably, more relevant than a sports car for a new generation of newly minted in countries which are nearly acquiring wealth themselves. Often for good reason: a place with a challenging road infrastructure, or conversely with newly laid roads in a straight line grid, it’s not a place to enjoy a low-slung, hard, riding, agile, high-performance sports car originally aimed for the track.

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That’s where the versatile SUV comes in, and our example of Aston Martin’s own take on this kind of car is in keeping with its history of making cars that stand out. Ours was in bright orange, with a lavish, black and orange accented cabin. The shape may be very different to a classic sports car, but for the moment anyway, one key element remains: a roaring V8 engine with 707PS under the bonnet. This type of engine, which emanates a compilation of wonderful cacophony, depending on how hard and fast you are driving it, is perfect for a sports car where you want to get to that point on the sweeping road where you can push it between 5000 and 7000 rpm.

For a huge SUV, it certainly has the power and the thunder, although arguably, this kind of engine will be less missed an SUV with everything goes electric, than it will in other cars which positively encourage high performance driving.

black car interior

With 900Nm of torque, this SUV provides a sports car acceleration and high speed

What is a DBX also has his sharpness – in its looks but also in the way it handles, something that is always a challenge for these big cars with high centres of gravity. It is an SUV that actually enjoys being aimed down challenging driving roads. Perhaps not narrow twisting lanes, as it’s quite big and wide, but it would be very much at home on the broad, sweeping curves of Bavaria or southern Tuscany.

There, you can revel as the engine tears through its different tones as it approaches the top of its rev range, rushing you forward ever faster – this is a very speedy car, although all luxury SUVs now are, whether electric or petrol powered. And then, back in the urban environment in which most of these cars spend most of their time, it’s back to being a menacing and rather fun designer tool.

And what about Aston Martin‘s natural home in the stately home-lined lanes of England? We would recommend a different combination if your life is based there: one of Aston Martin’s gorgeous convertible sports cars for high days and holidays, and a 50-year-old rusting Range Rover for the winter months. That way you will stay true to the aristocratic values of this fabled British brand.

 

Read more: Audi TT RS Review

 

Find out more: Aston Martin DBX707

Online Editor: Isabel Phillips

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A yellow Porsche on a country road with fields in the background
A yellow Porsche on a country road with fields in the background

The Porsche 911 GTS is a sportier addition to the model lineup

Porsche has a unique place in the automotive canon. Its history, racing and heritage, combined with a stream of some of the most evolving and precisely engineered cars, mean it is beloved by collectors. And in recent years, the company has made approachably-priced sports cars that are still a paragon of excitement for those who cannot or do not want to stretch to the more exotic offerings. It has also branched out into family cars, SUVs and the highly dynamic electric Taycan. In a tribute to a brand which is synonymous with German engineering and carries with it a geeky spirit that appeals to those who might collect mechanical watches, in this series we review some of the company’s most interesting contemporary offerings

The greatest consumer products are not those which undergo brilliant reinventions, but those which quietly evolve while remaining seemingly the same. A Birkin bag, a bottle of Château Latour, and an iPad are easily recognisable from their predecessors 40, 20 and 10 years ago.

The Porsche 911 stands at the pinnacle of this list when applied to the automotive world. It was a bit of an anomaly when it first emerged in the early 1960s, with is engine in the back, just in front of the bumper, and a bug eyed look. Porsche had plans to replace it with a completely different model, the 928, in the 1970s. Yet 20 years later, it was the 928 that disappeared into the history books, while the 911, continually refreshed every few years.

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The 911 itself has spawned many different variants: from race specials that only ever increase in value, to increasingly mainstream standard cars that can be driven by anyone and have no shortage of supply. Somewhere between these categories, of the ubiquitous “standard” 911 and the rare GT models, is the GTS.

The steering wheel and controls inside a Porsche 911 GTS

The Alcantara and cloth interiors of the 911 GTS

To drive, the GTS is traditionally somewhere between the company’s more exotic offerings and its mainstream sports cars. The logic behind the GTS is that you wouldn’t want to drive a collectors car every day on the school run or to go shopping. Though having driven the three first iterations of the GTS since it was first introduced in 2010, we can attest that if these excellent cars were made in limited quantities, rather than as a main manufacturer run, we have no doubt that this car would be bought over by collectors in years to come.

And here is the fourth iteration: the 992 GTS, 992 being the model designation for the latest variant of the 911.

Get into the latest 911 GTS after driving the next model down, the Carrera S, and the subtle, iterative, intriguing, differences, are almost immediately apparent. The interior has touches of Alcantara and cloth, and appears more bespoke, less factory made. As soon as you go round the first corner, the steering, good enough in the standard car, feels a little bit more taut, more sharp.

Read more: Porsche Reviews Series: 718 Cayman GTS and 718 Boxster GTS

The GTS is also more responsive around a series of corners, both in its engine response and the way it handles – and the way it sounds. It’s a bit faster and punchier, has more aural sensation, has a more muscular frame, or so it seems, while still being virtually as easy to drive as the standard models. The more specialist “GT” models, in comparison, take commitment and effort, ideal if you are racing around but much less fun in everyday reality for most of us.

Meanwhile the differences with the base cars are subtle, but just like the 911 evolution, many subtle differences add up to a big difference. We think the latest GTS is as compelling as any of its predecessors and its the 911 we would be buying if we were in the market now. You can even get it with manual transmission, unlike a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, if you are a truly committed driver; or as a convertible, unlike its more “collectible” sisters. Enjoy now while we are permitted.

Find out more: porsche.com/uk/models/911

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Courtesy of Porsche

In the third part of our Super Powers series from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of a Porsche 911 Carrera GTS

The Porsche 911 is an example of a design that has succeeded precisely because it is wrong. No car designer would come up with this car now. It is neither a two-seater nor a four-seater, it has an engine where the boot usually goes and a strangely situated storage space between the front wheels. No one else has created anything like it and nor are they likely to. But this endearing design has been with us for 60 years, initially updated slowly, latterly more quickly.

The latest generation, introduced a few years back, still has the car’s distinctive design features, but is as technically sophisticated as any other luxury sports car. The newest iteration, also known as the 992, is remarkably quiet and refined when driven slowly around town – too much so for some, who say it has been overtamed in search of ever broadening markets.

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We at LUX count ourselves Porsche 911 fans, yet, while we are in awe of the technical abilities, design and performance of the standard 992, we also felt it could offer a little more in terms of engagement and excitement. So we were pleased to be given the keys to this GTS model. Porsche typically produces some race-oriented 911 versions for enthusiasts, but they have certain compromises, including a lack of back seats and a handling set up that, while suitable for a smooth race track, is not ideal if you live in the actual world, as you find yourself rattling over potholes and scraping over bumps.

The GTS is a halfway house between the two. It is the 911 you buy if you drive every day but crave a little edge. As such, it is really a tweak of mainstream 911 models rather than anything spectacular, but Porsche engineering means the GTS models feel more special than they should.

The Porsche 911 Carrera GTS adds a frisson of extra excitement to an already practically perfect and endearingly distinctive supercar

First impressions were of a car that is a little more tuned and willing than the standard model. Everything is incremental: the engine sounds racier and is keener to engage; the steering is more lively. When we took our first roundabout, we felt the car spoke to us in a way standard models do not. On fast country roads,
the differences amplified. Our car had manual transmission – Porsche’s automatic gearshift is smooth and easy to use, but, for engagement, we like a manual when we can find one. Infamously, Ferrari has stopped making them, so raising the values of its last manual-transmission models.

With this and the other GTS enhancements, this car is a joy along country lanes. Acceleration is immediate and rapid: turn the steering wheel a fraction and it responds a fraction; exit speedily from a corner and you feel the back of the car tighten, which lovers of all 911s will appreciate. The GTS feels like a standard 911 that has taken a Chenot detox alongside Pilates and musclebuilding, like a friend who has been working on their fitness. We found it even more fun than the faster and more expensive 911 Turbo, which is a hoot for its “Look how fast we are going!” value, but less precise and delicate than this.

Read more: Lamborghini Huracán STO Review

So, the perfect Porsche? At everyday speeds, you won’t let out a rebel yell, as you might in some of its less sophisticated but popular competitors. And you will not love the manual transmission in town – always a compromise. But for adding an edge of excitement to an already beautiful, competent and desirable car, the GTS is as good as it could be. Get yours with rear-wheel drive, a manual gearbox and Michelin Pilot Sport 4S tyres for a car true to the spirit of the model.

LUX Rating: 18.5/20

Find out more: porsche.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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A white Ferrari by a river and hills
A white Ferrari by a river and hills

Ferrari Roma

In the second part of our Super Powers series from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of a Ferrari Roma

Creating an association with Roma from the Ferrari brand is an idea so obvious it is surprising the company hasn’t done it before. The company has made cars named after California, the chic Italian port of Portofino and its hometown of Maranello. But never Rome.

So what kind of car could we expect from the Ferrari Roma? Looking at the exterior in the first instance, we though the sweeping, long, elegant design fitted quite well with the Dolce Vita image of Rome that the company would evidently like to project. With its long nose and contemporary curves, and the swept-back nature of the cockpit, the Roma looks like a classic grand tourer, updated for now. It is also one of the prettier Ferraris of recent years.

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Inside, this quality is both amplified and somewhat dissipated. It is amplified by the view our over the bonnet, where buttresses on either side help you aim the car for a long distance, touring in mind. It is dissipated because the interior, while bristling with electronic gizmos, does not have the classiness of Ferraris of old, or the sheer razzmatazz of some of the Roma’s current Ferrari siblings. True, the controls in the centre console do mimic the gated manual gearboxes of older Ferraris, but the rest of it feels up to date without being particularly glamorous. This is not a Ferrari that comes dripping in leather, although there was a generous amount of Alcantara, the mock suede favoured by many sports cars, in evidence.

a Ferrari steering wheel and controls in the Roma with the yellow Ferrari logo in the middle of the steering wheel

Combining a classic grand-tourer sweep with a hyper-responsive dynamic drive, the Ferrari Roma makes for a particularly intriguing new model

However, as soon as you start driving it, any impression that the Roma is a slightly laid-back but high-performance grand tourer quickly goes out of the window as fast as the rubber on the tyres touches the tarmac (the tyres were Pirelli P Zeros in our case, which do not do the car’s handling justice). This is a car with a focus on raciness, not refinement. The steering is super sharp, almost hyperactive. The accelerator responds if you even think about touching it. On a country road it is highly engaging, around sharp bends it feels both enormously capable and highly entertaining. This is a car that involves the driver for every second, and is rather surprising because of it.

Why? Because many very fast and expensive cars – Ferraris among them – have become more and more remote, even as they become more and more capable, in recent years. A feeling that you are driving a video game has become prevalent.

Read more: Lamborghini Huracán STO Review

But not in the Roma. Here you know you are driving a very fast contemporary Ferrari, even along a country lane at normal speeds. The car feeds back to you thought a concoction of noises and feelings – not that it is noisy – but the Roma is not a car designed with comfort in mind. It has enormous performance and dynamism, and tiny back seats, which are useful for shopping. Altogether, it is an intriguing addition to the Ferrari model line, the first of what may be a new dynasty of cars.

Most Ferraris to date have a lineage dating back through decades of predecessors, but the Roma is a new concept. We found it highly entertaining, but also wonder if it is just a little bit too focused on involvement. A more relaxed side to its character might have fitted everyday use a little more, particularly given that its shape is more that of a day-to-day elegant sports car than something you want to go and thrash. But nobody can doubt this car’s ability and excitement factor.

LUX Rating: 18.5/20

Find out more: ferrari.com

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a man and woman walking in a vineyard
a man and woman walking in a vineyard

Pierre Seillan has crafted Vérité wines since 1998. Under Pierre’s leadership, Hélène Seillan stepped into the role of assistant winemaker at the estate to ensure the legacy of the wine is maintained for the next generation

The French-American father-daughter team running Vérité make some of the world’s most sophisticated red wines, inspired by French classic styles, from vineyards in Sonoma, California. Darius Sanai catches up with Hélène Seillan to sip through a glorious portfolio

Like with most luxury goods, France has long been the global reference point for fine wine. If you are hosting a banquet for a monarch, your default is to serve something French; similarly, if you are gifting a wine to someone whose tastes you don’t know, the default is to go French.

a green vineyard with a path through the middle for walking

Knights Valley Vineyards

And yet, just like the rest of the luxury world, there are major players from elsewhere. Red wines from California and sweet whites from Germany, to give just two examples, can command the same or even higher prices than great French wines. And they are made in different styles.

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So what would a tasting of one of California’s most celebrated red wines, with a French name, Vérité (meaning “truth”), with individual wines called La Joie, Le Désir and La Muse respectively, conjure up? To add further intrigue, Vérité’s founding vigneron Pierre Seillan is French, and our tasting was conducted by his daughter and the current custodian of the estate Hélène Seillan, who is entirely bilingual, her life straddling her family’s native Bordeaux and her adoptive homeland of California.

Three bottles of wine in a wooden box

Vérité’s 20th Anniversary Gift Pack

Vérité’s wines are made not in California’s celebrated wine valley of Napa, but in the next valley along, closer to the Pacific Ocean, Sonoma. Each of the three is made with Bordeaux grapes: Le Désir is based on Cabernet Franc, La Joie is based on Cabernet Sauvignon and La Muse is based on Merlot. The wines regularly get top scores of 100/100 or thereabouts from the wine world’s critics.

Green vineyards and hills

Vérité was born through the friendship of Pierre Seillan and Jess Jackson when Jackson asked Seillan to visit Sonoma County in 1997

Hélène herself is delightful (like her wines) and sparkling (unlike her wines). She has the glamour and charm of a French luxury leader, but the easygoing directness of a California winemaker.

Hélène says working with her father is both inspiring and enjoyable, and she shares his view that “the most important part is the vineyard”; that soil and nature are essential to the creation of a fine wine.

Would the wines be the same blend of French sophistication and California brilliance? In a word – yes.

A house with a large terrace

The home of Vérité in Sonoma, California

A tasting of Vérité wines with Hélène Seillan; tasting notes by Darius Sanai

Vérité Le Désir 2019
A 1970s Chanel ball gown, worn down the flowing staircase of a Loire château, still owned by its pre-Revolution aristocrat. This is a wine that will live forever.

A vineyard with a path and greenery

Vérité Jackson Park

Vérité La Joie 2019
A classic 80s power suit worn by a woman CEO breaking through the glass ceiling: complexity, intrigue, delicacy, balance and nerves of steel, and a harbinger of many things to come. We would buy and keep this for decades.

Vérité La Muse 2019
An astonishing wine that you would serve to a president at a banquet at the Élysée Palace, and also happily drink at Le Club 55. Delicious and rich and striking.

A room full of barrels

Pierre Seillan has challenged himself with crafting wines from diverse terroirs, using the same approach to capture the unique expressions of Sonoma County, Bordeaux, and Tuscany in each vintage

Vérité La Joie 2013
With a few more years, La Joie is the same but with more layers, more experience. The intriguing thing about these wines is that, while they are as complex as almost anything from Bordeaux, they don’t go through those very French adolescent periods of being difficult, uptight and grumpy.

Read more: Tasting with sustainable Napa wine producer Beth Novak Milliken

Vérité La Muse 2007
Wine snobs don’t think it’s OK to have favourites – you can say a certain wine “shows better” than another. Hélène is no wine snob, though, because I told her this was my favourite wine of the tasting and she laughed. Maybe it’s the age, a sweet sixteen, but it had the freshness and richness of the first four, with a kind of perfumed soulfulness that was all Billie Holiday.

A sunset on a vineyard with green vines and hills in the distance

Sonoma County is one of the most diverse wine growing regions due to its proximity to the Pacific Ocean and the climate flows from West to East

1998 Vérité
This is a library wine, no longer easily available, showcased in this tasting. For me it tasted like an aged Grand Cru Burgundy (even though those are made from a different kind of grape), silky, subtle, gently revealing itself. At 25 years its no longer bold, like the others, and merits sipping over foie gras (or grilled chanterelles on a biscotte-type toast, if you prefer) while musing out of the French windows of your chateau in La France Profonde, looking at the rain washing over your long lawn, in the autumn.

www.veritewines.com

Vérité wines are occasionally available from stockists around the world: check www.winesearcher.com for details

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CEO Guido Terreni. Courtesy of Parmigiani Fleurier

LUX speaks to Guido Terreni, CEO of Swiss Watchmaker Parmigiani Fleurier about the definition of luxury and the key values which distinguish the classic brand

LUX: What drew you to the world of horology and made you pursue a career in this industry?
Guido Terreni: My girlfriend was living in Switzerland. I decided to join her, and later she became my wife. At that time, I didn’t imagine that I was also getting married to watchmaking.

LUX: What are the core values of the Parmigiani Fleurier brand, and do you believe these have changed over time?
GT: Parmigiani Fleurier is founded on 2 very important values that are embodied in its founder, Michel Parmigiani, who is a living legend of restoration.

The first is a deep cultural knowledge of watchmaking history, and with it, its different crafts across all eras and all components. The second is discretion, because when you are a restorer, even with the highest of skills like Michel, your ego has to disappear. This is because your work is about giving a second life to the work of another creator.

These values are eternal, and our responsibility is to keep them at the heart of our Maison for the pleasure of our clients.

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LUX: In the two years since you were appointed CEO, sales at Parmigiani Fleurier have seen dramatic improvement. What is your business strategy and why has it been so successful?
GT: Indeed, we are experiencing a fantastic momentum that originated from the unveiling of the Tonda PF Collection at the end of 2021. The centre of the strategy is designing a pure and contemporary collection that respects the brand’s values of high horological content and understatement, to please the refined and non-ostentatious watch purists of tomorrow. Everything else, meaning distribution and communication, must be consistent with this desire, where quality over quantity is always respected.

Parmigiani Fleurier’s founder Michel Parmigiani in the restoration workshop. Courtesy of Parmigiani Fleurier

LUX: Your recently released Calendar Watches Trilogy reflects a number of different civilizations and cultures. Can you tell us about the importance of global or cultural approaches to watchmaking?
GT: Global and cultural approaches are part of the same game. The brand is always consistent when it expresses its creativity, whether to the world, or to a specific audience. Authenticity, deepness of the idea and excellence in the execution must always be there. When you address a different culture, what is deeper than interpreting a different way of mastering time?

It is not a commercial exercise. It is a cultural one, that starts from respect, understanding others and putting the Swiss watchmaking culture at the service of another one, while keeping the Parmigiani touch in doing so.

LUX: How can watches tell the stories of people?
GT: A timepiece is probably the most intimate object we accompany ourselves with. Apart from collectors that evidently have a watch for every occasion and every mood, the majority of watch lovers wear their watches for quite a long and continuous time. It is the only object you don’t think about when you choose your outfit in the morning. It is therefore always right for the owner, because it reflects his or her personality. That’s why you can tell a lot of things from how a watch is worn.

The Parmigiani Fleurier Manufacture. Courtesy of Parmigiani Fleurier

LUX: How do you balance honouring the history of traditional watchmaking techniques while also looking to the future and continuing to innovate?
GT: Personally, I value tradition as our roots. They forge your thinking and your craft, but if tradition becomes an obsession, it becomes a cage, a rail from which there is no escape or evolution.

Luxury, to me, is about evolving excellence. Innovation might not be technological, as the quartz watches, or more recently, the smartwatches have demonstrated in failing to supersede the traditional mechanical technology. You can innovate while respecting tradition. You can refuse to accept that everything has already been invented in watchmaking. That, to me, is interesting and creative and pushes our quest to be world premium. Luckily, there is no recipe to express an innovative luxury experience, it’s a question of sensitivity and balance.

LUX: What sets Parmigiani apart from other renowned watch brands, and how do you maintain a competitive edge?
GT: We create discrete high horology, where superior crafts and refinement must respect the non-ostentatious values of our clientele and our Maison. We maintain our competitive edge by aspiring to present innovations that are interesting, and that can become lifelong companions, like the Xiali Calendar, or reinterpreting important functions like the GMT with our GMT Rattrapante, or exploring new functions with the Minute Rattrapante.

LUX: What role does the restoration of watches and other artifacts play in shaping the brand’s philosophy?
GT: To quote Michel: “Restoration is our source of knowledge.” It is important not for the sake of replicating the past, but to acquire and keep alive that sensitivity to the mechanical art that moves us.

The Parmigiani Fleurier Maison. Courtesy of Parmigiani Fleurier

LUX: What are the key challenges facing the luxury watch industry at the moment and how should these be addressed?
GT: The luxury watch industry has become a very big market. The bigger it gets, the more mainstream it becomes. The risk for the industry is to lose contact with the true luxury experience, which has little to do with the size of the budgets at your disposal, but a lot to do with the ideas you have in mind.

Read more: Bovet’s Pascal Raffy on horological artistry and engineering

LUX: Looking to the future, what can we expect from Parmigiani Fleurier as it continues to evolve as a brand?
GT: The Tonda PF has just been born. We have to work with discipline and make the collection become iconic.

We will continue to be true to our values and we will continue to be creative, innovative and assure a supreme execution, while aiming to always being interesting.

Find out more: www.parmigiani.com

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Green and white glass sheets in a room
Green and white glass sheets in a room

Lexus Design Awards 2023 was presented in the Tortona district during Milan Design Week

Against the backdrop of the vibrant and bustling Milan Design Week, Lexus presented the four winners of their coveted annual Design Award, now in its 11th iteration. Trudy Ross visited Milan’s Superstudio Più to find out more

I was an awe-struck first-timer at Salone del Mobile this year, the world’s most prestigious and well-attended design fair. The city was brimming with life, with throngs of fashionably dressed professionals walking over clean, sunbaked streets, the city’s many restaurants and cafes full of old industry friends reuniting and the chatter of business meetings over fine wine. On every corner you were met with an eye-catching new installation, ready to become the venue for yet another glamorous party by the evening.

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The Lexus Design Awards, presented in the Tortona district, was the perfect introduction to Salone, embodying the fair’s guiding principles of creativity, beauty, innovation, sustainability, and a focus on the potential of young designers. The competition was launched in 2013 by Lexus to give a platform to the next generation of designers. Displayed in the bright and airy Superstudio Più, the winning designs were accompanied by architect and artist Suchi Reddy’s immersive 3D collage, Shaped by Air, inspired by the Lexus Electrified Sport.

Reddy told LUX, “It all started from a drawing. I started finding these shapes that were very beautiful – I thought that if Matisse had designed a car, this would be the car…because we were inside, I had the opportunity to really play with reflection, and create this idea of a forest; you can see how the light dapples, creating shadows and unexpected things. There’s a richness to walking in a forest because you never know what shapes to expect – everything fits but it’s always different.”

A woman wearing a black dress and white top standing next to green and transparent sheets of glass

Suchi Reddy with her installation, ‘Shaped by Air’

Her installation of glass and movement was the perfect intermingling of beauty, technology, and nature to reflect the winning designs, which used technology to look to the future and to create elegance, but also prioritised purpose, practicality and the natural world. While there is usually only one winner, this year the award was expanded to comprise four winners, all of whom were given an opportunity to work with Lexus’ handpicked mentors, four leading figures from the design world: Marjan van Aubel, Joe Doucet, Yuri Suzuki, and Sumayya Vally. A public vote was then held to determine the People’s Choice winner, the design which most impressed and resonated with viewers.

Swedish designer Pavels Hedström was announced as the Your Choice winner for his innovative design, Fog-X, a high-impact hiking jacket that transforms into a tent/shelter – but its real ingenuity is not shapeshifting. The device can catch fog, even in the most arid areas of the desert, and transform it into up to 10 litres a day of drinking water. Hedström told LUX that he has always been interested in solving the big global challenges. When it came to drinking water, he was inspired by plants and animal species which can survive in the Atacama desert. He found that one of the ways they do this is by catching fog, saying his design is “basically the same principle”.

Read more: Photo London’s Fariba Farshad on Fotografìa Maroma

While the jacket itself might not currently be affordable for many of the people living in desert communities with a lack of water, he championed the Fog-X app made alongside the jacket, which anyone can use to determine and track the areas with the most potential for moisture generation. He added, “privileged people like us take for granted that we have water on the tap. We need to rethink how we get these resources, because our relationship to nature is pretty imbalanced. If we use the jacket, I hope it will also change our mindsets and our appreciation of nature.”

A man wearing cow print trousers and a black top standing next to an orange bag

Pavels Hedström, the Your Choice winner for his innovative design, Fog-X

The other designers included Temporary Office, a duo made up of Vincent Lai and Douglas Lee, who unveiled 3D topographic puzzle Touch the Valley. Designed with the visually impaired in mind, the puzzle allows people to play and learn through touch rather than sight, with each piece carefully contoured and sculpted to engage tactual sensation. When assembled, the pieces can become a model of a major mountain range or famous landmark. Beyond a tool for the visually impaired, the product can be enjoyed by all and double as an elegant coffee table piece with an interesting story to tell. Perfect for the explorer traveller who doesn’t just want to go to Yosemite, but wants to hold it in his hands.

Two men standing next to a screen showing a presentation

Vincent Lai and Douglas Lee, founders of Temporary Office

Jiaming Lui from China designed the Print Clay Humidifier, a 3D-printed humidifier made with recycled ceramic waste. This household appliance requires zero electricity or energy and is made from materials left over from industrial processes. Indeed, the product itself can be recycled at the end of its life after any damage or breakages to reform as it was initially. Lui looked to natural resources to replace the plastic, energy-using devices many of us have in our homes and created a stylish, effective and sustainable alternative.

A man standing next to a product and a screen with the words LEXUS above him

Jiaming Lui with his print clay humidifier design

Finally, and perhaps the most directly relevant to many of our own lives was Kyeongho Park and Yejin Heo’s Zero Bag, a new alternative to plastic packaging for food and clothes, made from seaweed. It looks like plastic, but rather than being an amalgamation of artificial chemicals, it actually fights them. The packaging dissolves in water and contains either a detergent for clothes, or a baking soda film which removes chemicals and pesticides from food. Kyeongho and Yejin, both currently students majoring in industrial design at Hanyang University’s ERICA campus, expressed hope for their idea to expand across regions and become adopted by major retailers.

Two men in beige jackets standing next to a screen showing a presentation

Kyeongho Park and Yejin Heo with their Zero Bag design

The theme for this year’s competition was ‘Design for a Better Tomorrow’. If these young designers are any indication of what tomorrow might look like, it seems the future will make space for both technology and for nature, cultivating the beauty of both.

Find out more: discoverlexus.com/lexus-design-award-2023

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A man standing in a whiskey factory wearing jeand and a grey jacket
A man standing in a whiskey factory with large gold bells wearing jeand and a grey jacket

Utsava Kasera at the Glenfiddich distillery

LUX’s Contributing Whiskey Editor, Utsava Kasera, shares his six top whiskies to celebrate big or small achievements, raise a toast to milestones or just to savour the moment

Macallan James Bond 60th Anniversary release

coloured cases of the Macallan James Bond 60th anniversary whiskiesThis one is to have your own Bond moment when you take a trip to the Scottish Highlands or simply whilst watching any Bond film. It was created to celebrate 60 years of Macallan’s association with James Bond and is done in distinct Macallan sherry style, with a touch of suave. A very hard whisky to get hold of, but if you do, it’s a treat.

www.themacallan.com/james-bond-60th-anniversary-release

Deanston Organic Barley

A glass of whiskey next to a bottle and case of Deanston WhiskeyDeanston is one of my favourite distilleries in terms of creativity and unique whiskies. This special limited edition is made from certified organic barley and the whole whisky making process from start to finish is organic. At cask strength, it packs a punch and is maturated in organic bourbon casks giving it their signature waxy character. The organic sherry finish rounds up the whisky nicely with a hint of spice and cream.

deanstonmalt.com/deanston-organic-2000-whisky

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Glenfiddich Cognac Cask

A whiskey bottle next to its blue case with gold writingThere is a lot of experimentation going on with finishing the whiskies in various casks in recent years. Finished in French Oak casks for last 2 years, this 26 year old limited edition Glenfiddich is a shining example of a cognac cask whisky done to perfection. It has an aroma of oak, dried fruits, plums and a sweet finish of honey layered toasted nuts with brown sugar and cream.

www.glenfiddich.com/grande-couronne

Yellow Spot 12 years

A bottle with a yellow and white labelThe spot whiskeys from Ireland have made a name for themselves in the whisky world amongst serious drinkers. The barrels at the distillery are spotted in the colours Blue, Green, Yellow or Red indicating the age they will be matured for. Yellow spot on barrel was aged for 12 years and it is perhaps my favourite of the lot. The finish in Malaga cask does the trick for the beautiful sweet finish with honey sweetness, red apples and peaches that lingers on throughout the palate. This whisky is a must own for all connoisseurs or even people starting their journey in whisky world.

www.spotwhiskey.com/yellowspot

Redbreast 27

A red bottle next to a matching caseThis is another gem from Ireland which has won several accolades from experts around the world and is becoming very hard to source, due to limited availability and skyrocketing demand. It is the oldest Redbreast in the regular range, with tropical fruit flavours from the Ruby port casks and a very long finish with fruits and spice which tell the story of its three decades of maturation.

www.redbreastwhiskey.com/redbreast-27-year-old-whiskey

Read more: Four Seasons Ten Trinity Square, London, Review

Glenturret 7 year Peat Smoked

Two frosted glasses with whiskey in them and a bottle of whiskey beside themGlenturret is the oldest distillery from Scotland and has been recently revamped, following its takeover by Lalique. They are the only distillery to have a Michelin star restaurant on site. This peat smoke is a perfect balance between American sherry sweetness and the peat smoke. Either neat, with a dash of water or in an old fashioned cocktail, this is dangerously delicious.

www.theglenturret.com/7-years-old-peat-smoked-2022

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In the fourth part of our Driving Force series from the AW 2022/23 issue, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of the Maserati Levante Granlusso

As the car industry moves into its new phase focused on electric and, in due course, autonomous motors, presumably there will be shifts in priority for consumers. Previously, you may have chosen a car for its exciting engine noise and performance advantage over rivals. In an autonomous, electric-car future, these factors will be uniform: all cars will go at the same speed and make the same (lack of) emotive sound.

So how will they be distinguished? Or will they not be distinguished at all? Will cars become like road-going versions of train carriages, the space inside them hired out by passengers?

It would be logical to presume that personal (as opposed to shared) automotive transportation will continue for the wealthier consumer and, with differentiation in the performance stakes no longer possible, design and luxury will come more to the forefront.

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Designing a car’s interior to look striking is not as simple as creating a fashion collaboration for a sneaker, though. Like a plane’s, the interior of a car has to adhere to specific stipulations for safety, space, comfort and security. Materials also need to handle years of being sat on and scraped by (luxury) behinds. Which is why, we reflected, as we sat in the Maserati Levante Granlusso, it is rare to see an interior with this much style. The most luxury car interiors are fairly interchangeable. Not so this one.

It was designed by the Italian fashion house Ermenegildo Zegna – a special edition that is worth seeking out. There were swathes of what looked like men’s suit fabric along the seats and doors, and it had a delicious boudoir feel.

We subjected the Maserati to a longer test than usual, over a period of weeks rather than days, because this is a car designed as everyday luxury transportation, just as your Birkin is designed as an everyday luxury carrier of stuff. If you’re going to be using the car every day and will be seeing a lot of its interior, then it deserves serious consideration on this alone from anyone in the market for a mid-size luxury SUV. Everyone who experienced the car – friends, relatives and so on – commented on the interior. It’s a comfortable car under any circumstances, but the design touches give it a distinctiveness that is unique to this edition.

brown and leather and black car seats and a steering wheel

Embodying function and Italian flair, Maserati’s new mid-size luxury SUV is particularly distinctive for its fashion house-designed interior

Before we go further, let’s elaborate on the term “mid-size luxury SUV”. A few years back cars came in simple categories. Now there’s an infinite variety of what the industry calls “crossovers”: vehicles that are fluid in terms of categorisation, sometimes the better for it, too, and sometimes not, if you look at the more curious attempts at merging luxury, high-performance and bling. Fortunately, Maserati does not fall into this trap. It is a relatively simple, medium-sized (that is to say, pretty big by European standards and quite small by American standards), sporting off-road vehicle, the type seen on school runs and in luxury shopping streets globally.

Its shape is more quiet and harmonious than out-there and ostentatious, and all the better for it, unless your primary aim is to be noticed. It has a touch of Italian flair – more so than its Germanic rivals, like the Porsche Cayenne and BMW X5 – but not so much that it shouts at you. Unusually for an SUV, it attracted many compliments from people we encountered, and no inner-city anti-car hostility.

To drive, it felt a bit bigger than it is. The flowing shape means that it is hard to judge where the ends of the car are (the 360-degree camera was an advantage here). In a car with a Maserati badge, we expected something focused on performance and agility (as much as possible for a large, tall car) but, actually, the Maserati is aimed more towards the comfort end of the spectrum. This was fine most of the time, except occasionally the ride did get more lumpy than in a true luxury car, such as a Mercedes E-Class, and it was a shame not to have a bit more excitement on a twisty road. That is the essential compromise of these sport- utility vehicles – they encompass engineering challenges for the way they drive and ride. Still, it hasn’t hurt their sales and it would be a very sensitive driver or passenger who noted this.

Read more: Driving Force: Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid

One thing you may notice, depending on how mechanically aware you are, is the engine. If you are part of a (now dwindling) demographic for whom an Italian car brand means a glorious, smooth and powerful engine, you will need to readjust for the diesel engine. It gets the car around effectively enough, but it’s not going to make you feel like a racing driver. It is functional, which is slightly out of kilter with the car’s flair.

And it is flair that we keep going back to. In a world of increasingly homogeneous cars notable for their efficiency, Maserati has succeeded in making a comfortable, functional, spacious everyday car with a splash of luxury. That is an attractive trait in itself, and a very nice place to be when you are sitting in everyday traffic surrounded by your Zegna-fabric interior.

Find out more: maserati.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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red car driving in nature In the second part of our Driving Force series from the AW 2022/23 issue, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of the Audi R8 V10 Spyder.

We at LUX are not engineers. We leave analysis of the technical side of motoring to our specialist colleagues in the automotive media. What we do know, though, as motoring enthusiasts, is that a mid-engined car should be fun to drive.

With only an elementary knowledge of physics, we know that placing an engine – a car’s heaviest part – behind the driver instead of in front, should make a car easier to pivot through a turn. And while LUX readers may not often do their own grocery shopping, anyone who has tried to steer a shopping trolley full of bottles of, say, Dom Pérignon, will know how much harder it is to turn corners than when the trolley is empty. The same principle should theoretically apply to a mid-engined car, where the space under the bonnet is air, not engine.

Driving through a series of sharp corners in the latest Audi R8, we were delighted to feel this theory being put into practice. The R8 is a fine-looking car, making the most of the engine placement. It has a short, aggressive-looking front end and a fat, squat rear, suggesting speed and intent. Then there is its handling. Steer into a corner and the reactions are instantaneous: there is no mass, no trolley full of Dom Pérignon to turn ahead of you. In fact, it turns so quickly you need your wits about you or you will overdo it, steering too much and aiming onto the wrong side of the road. You feel the car’s four-wheel drive getting its claws into the road as the engine shoots out of the curve, ready for the next one. It may be an Audi, but this is one hyper-responsive car, as sharp as a Ferrari or a McLaren. 

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You also have no doubt that the engine is just a few centimetres behind your head. It is a special engine. As you accelerate out of a corner, its howl grows, like the sound of a Formula One track getting closer. The revs continue to rise and the F1 track continues to increase in volume, the engine getting more and more urgent, until you hit the rev limiter at 8,700rpm. It is an exciting experience, and, combined with the concentration required to keep the hyper-responsive steering pointing in the right direction, makes for real fun and engagement.

Most sports cars today that have not turned electric or into part-electric hybrids are powered by turbocharged V8 engines. They are, by and large, very fast, and the engine response in many cases is even swifter than in this car. However, they lack the character and drama of the now old-fashioned V10 engine, as it gains revs and power mid-howl – something to treasure.

This all makes the R a brilliant car to drive. Unsurprisingly, over the years that its similar-looking predecessor was made, it was highly successful and remains highly desirable. If you feel a caveat coming, you are correct – it involves a mystery. This is an unquestionably rapid and exciting car to drive, even more thrilling on a twisty road than some of its acclaimed rivals. However, there is a slight snobbery towards it from some. Both rivals we mentioned have, we think, slightly higher status in the car-collector world, whereas the R8 V10, for all its brilliance, is considered a little more nouveau.

steering wheel of car with open roof

We can’t give a definitive answer as to why that might be. The R8 isn’t perfect, of course – a two-seater sports car rarely is. Even by the standards of this car type, though, there is very little storage space, either in the front boot or the cabin. If two of you were off for a weekend away, let’s just say that even if there were enough room for your bags, there would be none for souvenirs.

It is also true that the cabin suffers from the excellence of Audi’s corporate design. The shape of the interior is as you might expect from a low mid-engined, two-seater sports car. It is beautifully put together and clear in a Bauhaus-for-the-21st-century way, but the materials and interior design don’t feel special. It feels exactly what it is, a premium two-seater sports car from the people who bring you premium saloons and estate cars. However, the exterior shape, which we think looks better than anything else in its class, makes up for the lack of interior flair. 

If you did need further storage space, the Porsche is more practical and spacious, with small back seats that are suitable for humans over short distances. But these are not supposed to be practical cars and, as a racy weekend machine, the R8 is superb. It manages what some much more expensive supercars don’t: it is reactive and lively at low speeds, and you don’t have the feeling – common in some over-capable supercars – that the car is taking everything in its stride and not giving much fun or feedback. 

Read more: Ionic cars are transforming classic cars for an electric future

In the R8 you have the best engine in its class, combined with handling that lets you know you are in a supercar, while keeping you hyper-alert. The steering could have more feel, although that is a common complaint in this era of electrically assisted steering and giant tyres. Importantly, the R8 is the last of its kind. With emissions regulations, Audi will not make another V10. We recommend it, and, for extra fun, opt for the Spyder over the coupé, so you can open the roof and hear the engine even more.

LUX rating: 19/20

Find out more: audi.co.uk

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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Red car driving on road
Red car driving on road

The latest Porsche Panamera, a comfortable, high-performance SUV, is less lumbering than other fast SUVs and provides genuine driver satisfaction

In the fourth part of our supercar review series, LUX gets behind the wheel of the Porsche Panamera 4S E-Hybrid

Mitteleuropa (middle Europe) is a semi-mythical territory that has always fascinated us. It is, decisively not the same as central Europe, the web of countries to the east of Switzerland and to the west of Romania. Its German name suggests it incorporates a part of Germany, but it cannot include the brisk North Sea coast or the Hanseatic ports, which belong to the Baltic. And we felt we were entering Mitteleuropa when a sign on the motorway in eastern France (that’s right, France) declared that we were in Lorraine. The signs on the motorway exit boards changed tone, as did the scenery. The place names became Germanic, and the flat fields of the Champagne region gave way to forested hills and ridges.

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Here, the Porsche Panamera felt in its element, as it headed back to its homeland. The straight-line motorway that had been a feature of the route to date turned into long, beautifully engineered curves, taken at high speed in this long wheelbase, semi-electric, large sports sedan. It was enormously satisfying, with subtle growls from the V8 engine upfront and the steeliness of the car’s sporting suspension making you feel like a pilot more than a chauffeur.

front black seats of car

This is the aim of the Panamera: a comfortable, high-performance vehicle intended to be genuinely satisfying for the driver, without the compromises of a high-sided SUV. As we drove past one mini mountain, the clouds burst open in a Götterdämmerung of rain, which rapidly flooded the road. The four-wheel-drive of the Panamera felt as if it was vacuuming up the water and spitting it out the back, wanting still to go faster, as if on a wet race track, when it would have been irresponsible to do so.

wheel of a car

We spent the night in Phalsbourg, eating at a French restaurant on a terrace on its wide central square while being served beer brewed in the Black Forest, in neighbouring Germany, by staff who spoke French and German, as if the two territories were one.

Between Phalsbourg and the Black Forest lie the Vosges mountains. The roads here were narrow, tight, still damp and the car clung to them through the gears, the electric and petrol engines working in unison to propel us forward. The Panamera is not a sports car by any traditional definition, it is too wide, too heavy. But if you’re used to driving a fast SUV and hanker after something less lumbering, while still having a lot of space, this is for you.

Read More: Style And Substance: Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

In the Black Forest the autobahn between Stuttgart and Lake Constance has no speed limit in many places, and its trail snakes through the mountains. At normal speed, the curves are gentle, barely noticeable, and you have the ability to admire villages pinned into the surrounding woods. But when you go much faster, on an empty road, each corner feels like a racetrack, and the car on its limit is muscular, secure, reassuring but sharp, made to maximise its capabilities on these roads not so far from its birth town of Stuttgart. At 160mph (257km/h), there is no time to admire the scenery.
We finished the day with a glass of the same local beer offered to us hundreds of miles away in Phalsbourg, while sitting in a little café on Lake Constance, Switzerland, a series of green bumps across the lake in front of us, Austria a couple of grey spikes in the distance to the left. Middle Europe, and the ideal car to conquer it.

LUX Rating: 18/20

Find out more: porsche.com

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bentley car driving amid mountains
bentley car driving amid mountains

The new Bentley Bentayga Hybrid is a lighter-feel luxury SUV that’s a wonderful mix of refinement and muscle

In the third part of our supercar review series, LUX gets behind the wheel of the Bentley Bentayga Hybrid

If you need an example of how the attributes of heritage luxury car brands have to change in the new world of sustainability and electrification, look no further than Bentley. This is a company that has been making cars that are primarily distinguished by their immensely powerful and vocal petrol engines for more than 100 years. Taking the petrol engines out of Bentleys would be like taking the leather out of a Chesterfield.

This latest model we drove is not electrically powered, but it’s a halfway point. The company’s luxury SUV is typically distinguished by its massive 12-cylinder engine (although there are models available with a V8). Here we have a hybrid version, with a six-cylinder petrol engine accompanied by an electric motor.

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Does it work? That depends: if you’re listening for that V12 ‘whoof’, and expecting the distinctive power characteristics – speed and responsiveness to increase in tandem – you may be disappointed at first. In fact, the sound is the most notable characteristic of this car, as going from a Bentley V12 to this is rather like going from wild to farmed beluga. Still good, but not what you’re used to. But, given that in a few short years no engine will make any sound at all apart from a faint hum, this is really a moot point.

Bentley beige car interior

One other characteristic a traditionalist will welcome is the lighter feel: there is less engine in the nose of the car. It feels quite alive around corners on country lanes on the way to one’s architect-redesigned Oxfordshire manor house.

Black car dashboard

That is the kind of lifestyle this car is aimed at and it does an excellent job. The interior feels like sitting in a well-appointed bank vault with windows onto which the outside world is projected. Unlike some very powerful SUVs, it doesn’t feel like it wants to race every car from the traffic lights. It’s not exactly serene – it’s a Bentley after all – but it’s a wonderful mix of refinement and muscle. If you’re an enthusiastic driver, you won’t complain about the relatively agile handling, excellent roadholding and responsiveness at speed. You may wish for a little more feedback and involvement, though, as this car is set up more at the luxury end of things.

Read more: Why You Should Get Your New Car Ceramic Coated

Your passengers will enjoy the crafted feel of the interior, which really does feel a cut above almost any rival. It may not feel as passionate as the SUV offerings from Lamborghini or the Mercedes G 63, but it aims to do a slightly different job, rather more grown-up. It is also a car you could get in to drive from the Cotswolds to ski in St Moritz in one day, and arrive refreshed and ready for the slopes. And the fuel savings from the new electric-petrol engine will pay for a couple of drinks at Pavarotti’s.

LUX rating: 17.5/20

Find out more: bentleymotors.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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An old green Lamborghini in front of palm trees on a roof
red and white leather interior of an old classic Ferrari

Interior of the 1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT Coupé

Maarten Ten Holder, Managing Director of Bonhams Motoring, tells LUX his top picks at Bonhams Quail Auction in California, ahead of the sale on Friday 19th August 2022. A sale which features cars being sold up to $3,400,000.

It may not be winter, but the West Coast is calling and the classic car world is gathering in Northern California for Monterey Car Week. This Mecca for serious car collectors includes the world-famous Pebble Beach Concours. Bonhams Quail Auction takes place in tandem with the equally glamorous Quail Motorsports gathering garden party this Friday (19 August). Our 25th silver anniversary sale offers a host of precious metal.

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1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight Competition, estimate on request

An old white car with the number 14 on the side on a track

1963 Jaguar E-Type Lightweight Competition

Owned by that giant of US motor racing, (and Americas Cup winner) Briggs Cunningham, and driven at Le Mans no less, this is one of the most important early racing Jaguars.

It’s a rare beast too – one of only 12 Competition cars, built with aluminium bodies and hard top and alloy 3.8-litre engine (hence it’s Lightweight label), sold exclusively to Jaguar’s preferred customers.

Significantly restored in the 1980s yet retaining its original bodywork and matching-numbers engine, this E-Type is eligible for the world’s most prestigious concours and historic races.

1938 Type 57C Atalante, estimate $2.8 – 3.4 million

black and yellow classic car in front of a garage

1938 Type 57C Atalante

This supercharged art deco masterpiece, designed by Jean Bugatti, was the supercar of the golden age, reaching a top speed of 120mph, when most cars aimed for 50 mph.

One of only five aluminium 57Cs, the Bugatti was the 1938 Paris Salon display car but has largely been under wraps for much of its life, firstly hidden during the Second World War, then kept for many years without turning a wheel in the garage of a later keeper’s chateau.

1969 Lamborghini P400S Miura, estimate $1,75 – 2,25 million

An old green Lamborghini in front of palm trees on a roof

1969 Lamborghini P400S Miura

Eternally young, the Lamborghini Miura was the car that put Lamborghini on the map and is often called the most beautiful car of its age. Gandini’s svelte design for Bertone is complemented by the evocative soundtrack from its Lamborghini’s brilliant V12 engine, placed behind the driver. landmark in the history of Italian sports cars. This 1969 P400S Miura, estimated at $1,750,000-2,250,000 and offered with no reserve.

1955 Ferrari 250 Europa GT Coupe, estimate $2.25 – 2.75 million

A white car driving on a road

1955 Ferrari 250 Europa Coupé

The great rival to Lamborghini is represented by seven models at Quail, including a trio of early cars led by the very last Ferrari 250 Europa GT built. This landmark model is regarded as the first of the iconic Ferrari GTs.

Styled and built by Pinin Farina, this car was first exhibited at the 1956 Brussels Motor Show and raced in period at Spa Francorchamps. In the late 2000s, the matching numbers car was the subject of a superb, factory-correct restoration, while retaining its original bodywork and chassis and is Ferrari Classiche ‘Red Book’ Certified.

1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupé, estimate $1.4 – 1.7 million

a red car with the doors opening over the roof

1956 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupé

Instantly recognisable – not just to car enthusiasts – the 300SL is considered the greatest sports car of the 1950s, with famous successes at Le Mans, Targa Florio and of course the 1955 Mille Miglia, won by Stirling Moss and Denis Jenkinson at a record average speed of just under 100mph.

Read more: The Style And Substance Series: Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition

This superb example has been kept by the same family from new, originally used as a daily driver by its first owner, Greek shipping magnate George C. Makris, then latterly stored by his children in a climate-controlled environment. Superbly restored while retaining its original engine, bodywork, desirable Rudge wheels and original Becker Mexico radio, the 300SL has covered under 22,000 miles over its lifetime.

Ex-Steve McQueen 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross, estimate $130,000 – 180,000

a red and black motorbike

Ex-Steve McQueen 1971 Husqvarna 400 Cross

The King of Cool was a known petrolhead (think of his passion project film ‘Le Mans’) and a motorcycle enthusiast, famously riding on screen in The Great Escape and On Any Sunday, the bike movie in which Husqvarnas featured heavily.

This ‘Husky’ was one of McQueen’s favourite off-road bikes and was kept by the actor until his death in 1980. The lovingly preserved, authentic machines offered in “as last ridden by McQueen” condition and still scarred with all the dents and dings from his regular rides.

Bonham’s Quail Auction will begin at 11am PDT/ 7pm BST on Friday 19th August

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a red convertible Porsche parked in front of a green field
a red convertible Porsche parked in front of a green field

This special Heritage Design Edition of Porsche’s 911 Targa 4S is the perfect compromise between a fixed-roof and a convertible- but your hair may still get messed up

In the first part of our supercar review series, LUX gets behind the wheel of the Porsche 911 Targa 4S Heritage Design Edition

One of the most important decision-making factors for anyone contemplating any sports car is hair. As in, “Will my hair get messed up when I ride in that?”. Get the decision wrong, and you could be in for a world of pain, and many stressful driving experiences.

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In a convertible car, where the roof lowers completely and leaves the passengers exposed behind the windscreen, forget any ideas you may have about looking like Grace Kelly or Leonardo DiCaprio. Any expensive hairstyle turns into a kind of 1980s plugged-into-the- socket-style frizz.

White leather seats and red hardware in a car

The alternative is to buy a car with a fixed roof, which are also more highly regarded by car geeks as they tend to be better to drive. But since when were geeks ever correct about any matter of style?

The 911 Targa 4S is Porsche’s answer to this pressing question. Press a button and the (hard) rooftop section lifts itself up, while the rear windscreen also lifts and swivels backward rather alarmingly. The top section disappears into the middle of the car, and the rear windscreen comes back and fixes itself to the ‘Targa hoops’ that encircle the top of the car.

The net effect is that when the roof is open you are surrounded on three sides by glass, the area above your head, where the roof would be, open to the sky. That stops wind blowing in sideways and should, in theory, keep all hairstyles and wigs as perfect as the day they left the salon.

a red convertible Porsche with a white circle on the side of the car, driving by a green field

The motorway north out of Basel into this car’s native Germany is wide, flat and has no speed limit. Taking these factors to their logical conclusion, we can report back that, at a road speed of more than 150mph (255km per hour), even someone with a closely cropped cut of their own hair will end up with a 1980s plugged-into-the-socket-style frizz. So don’t be fooled. If you want perfect hair, take your Bombardier.

In other respects, this is a stylish and satisfying car. The extra roof engineering makes the car notably heavier than its lightweight sports car Porsche 911 stablemates. For most driving experiences, that doesn’t matter at all. What does matter is a modern, technical- looking and practical interior, which we think looks best in the lighter colours of the Heritage Design Edition model we tested here (a limited edition that is no longer available, but the regular 911 Targa 4S is the same car aside from the design detail).

white leather car seats

Being in a sports car usually both works ways and it is particularly the case here. Your journey will be notably noisier and less relaxed then if you had taken the same route in a luxury sedan. But on the right roads, you will have more fun: the latest Porsche 911 is a fast, exciting car when pushed hard, and more practical to live with than a Ferrari or Aston.

Read more: Philanthropy: Nathalie Guiot, The Culture Booster

You will feel more alive than in an SUV or a sedan, and with the roof on you feel as secure as you do in a fixed-head (coupé) car. With the Targa roof off, you have the opportunity to get a suntan, show off a bit and your hairstyle will be – well, we can’t lie – messed up.

LUX rating: 18/20

Find out more: porsche.com

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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Two cars
Art

Original digital art by Mercedes-Benz at Design Essentials IV: The Art of Creating Desire

LUX stops off at the Mercedes-Benz Design Centre in Nice to hear about its latest projects – from EVs to NFTs, and everything in between 

Few places can evoke desire like the Cote d’Azur. Home to the world’s superelite and their superyachts, it is where the most exclusive communities migrate in summertime – and where the aspirational go to see them.

All of which made it a fitting backdrop for Mercedes-Benz’s latest Design Essentials instalment, ‘The Art of Creating Desire’. Presented between their Design Centre in Nice – a cylindrical, spaceship-like structure hidden in the pine forest of France’s tech hub – and the newly-opened Maybourne Riviera, the showcase featured the marque’s latest projects and outlooks on the future of luxury.

Building

The Mercedes-Benz Design Centre in Nice

‘We aspire to design the most desirable cars in the world. With Design Essentials, we illustrate how we approach this privilege in concrete terms,’ explained Chief Design Officer Gorden Wagener. ‘The venue – our Design Centre in Nice – plays a central role in this. I see it as a creative melting pot where we forge ideas for the luxury cars of the future.’

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That future, according to Mercedes-Benz, is digital. The marque has joined as the fifth and final founding member of the Aura Blockchain Consortium – a non-profit association of luxury brands investing in blockchain solutions for the industry – alongside LVMH, Prada Group, OTB Group, and Cartier, part of Richemont.

Car interior

Mercedes-Benz is expanding into in-car digital art experiences

‘Every product going forward will have a digital twin,’ explained Daniela Ott, General Secretary of Aura. ‘This is for all the use cases you can imagine, from traceability and provenance to resale and second-hand, NFTs and using the physical products you own in the metaverse’. In Mercedes’ case – the first and only premium automotive manufacturer to have joined the consortium – this means providing new digital art experiences both in-car and beyond.

Elsewhere, the marque is strengthening its commitment to the global fashion scene with the concept Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture, an S-Class reimagined through an haute couture lens. The car, which is expected to appear in 2023 in a limited release of 150 units, features a two-tone midnight blue and champagne exterior, and a nappa leather interior with bouclé fabric and gold trim.

Car interior

The limited edition Mercedes-Maybach Haute Voiture

We also had a sneak peek of the new Limited Edition Mercedes-Maybach. Soon to be available in a 150-unit run, the model was borne out of Project MAYBACH, the off-road EV concept created in collaboration with the late artist and fashion designer Virgil Abloh, which was presented at the Rubell Museum during Miami Art Week. The limited edition model marks the third and final collaboration with Abloh, whose Project Geländewagen set a benchmark for fashion and automotive collaborations in 2020.

Two cars

The Mercedes-Maybach by Virgil Abloh (left) and Project MAYBACH (right)

The grand finale took place over aperitifs at the Maybourne, where we were introduced to the Vision AMG, Mercedes’ new, all-electric sports car concept, slated for release in 2025. The car offers a preview of the all-electric future of Mercedes’ performance brand, having embarked on an electrification plan which will see electrified alternatives in every segment by the end of 2022, and an all-electric fleet by 2030.

Read more: Octopus Energy Founder Greg Jackson On The Green Revolution

Car

The Mercedes-Benz Vision AMG

Speaking of the formal aspect of the Vision AMG, Wagener said, ‘it continues to write the history of the VISION EQXX and raises it to a completely new level’.

If the future really is electric, we want to do it in the Vision AMG.

Find out more: mercedes-benz.com

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red classic car by a lake
A palace in the mountains with trees around it

Gstaad Palace

Maarten Ten Holder, Managing Director of Bonhams Motoring, tells LUX his top picks for The Gstaad Sale in Switzerland ahead of the sale on 3rd July 2022. The sale features cars being sold up to £1,900,000

When you handle some of the world’s rarest, most exotic and most valuable collector cars, it makes sense to sell them in the most beautiful locations. Bonhams is fortunate to have salerooms at the Grand Palais in Paris, overlooking the Grand Prix circuit in Monaco and on the lawns of the world-famous Monterey Car Week. To this glittering roster, we have added the chic Alpine resort of Gstaad where we will be hosting our eponymous sale on Sunday 3 July.

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The venue for this boutique sale is the Gstaad Palace, celebrity haunt for the likes of Elizabeth Taylor, Grace Kelly, Roger Moore, and the perfect backdrop for the automotive art we will be presenting – what is more, the general manager is a classic car enthusiast, so we will be in good company!

silver 2010 Lamborghini Reventon Roadster 6 with a pile of orange stones behind it and mountains in the background

2010 Lamborghini Reventon Roadster

Rather fittingly for our jet-set audience, our sale is led by a jet-inspired hypercar – a 2010 Lamborghini Reventon supercar (estimate CHF 1,850,000-2,200,000). This was the most extreme Lamborghini to date when unveiled in the late Noughties. Its aeronautic styling is matched by blistering performance thanks to its 6.5-litre V12 engine. It has a top speed of 205mph and accelerates from 0-100km/h in 3.4 seconds and even has a G-force meter for that ‘Top Gun’ moment. This Reventon is as new, having had only two owners, the second, the vendor, never having driven it!

A red 1991 Ferrari F40 on a track with grass

1991 Ferrari F40

Lamborghini’s great rival, Ferrari, also features in this sale, with no less than six supercars and grand tourers offered. Looming in the Reventon’s rear-view mirror is a 1991 Ferrari F40 (estimate CHF 1,600,000 – 2,000,000), considered one of the last great ‘analogue’ supercars.

Red Ferrari on a road with stones by it

1972 Ferrari 365 GTB:4 ‘Daytona’ Berlinetta

Introduced to celebrate Enzo Ferrari’s 40 years as a motor manufacturer, the F40 was the last model to be personally overseen by ‘the old man’ before he died in 1988. A thinly disguised racing car, with its panels of carbon fibre and that unmistakable high rear aerofoil, the F40 was the first production passenger car to have a top speed of more than 200 mph. It’s no wonder that F40s have been owned by the great and the good from Formula 1 champions such as Nigel Mansell and Alain Prost to Il Maestro, Luciano Pavarotti.

Black and white 2020 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport with green mountains and clouds in the background

2020 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport

Another racing-derived car is a 2020 Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport, (estimate CHF 390,000 – 500,000). The high-performance version of the evergreen 911 was produced to meet the regulations for GT2 sports car racing. Th even more powerful RS version set a new lap record at the infamous Nürburgring last year.

This one-owner example has covered fewer than 300 kms and has never been raced, although it is fully-equipped for motorsport with its ‘Clubsport’ package including FIA rollcage, Recaro racing seat and racing dampers.

Read more: Switzerland, our top pick for summer

Classic models from the motoring world’s most prestigious marques, such as Aston Martin, Mercedes-Benz, Rolls-Royce and Bentley, will also be gracing the Gstaad Palace this weekend.

A black Monteverdi 1969 in front of a green garage

1969 Monteverdi 375S Coupe

However also lining up is a less familiar name: Monteverdi, a Swiss marque of the 1960s and 1970s – the brainchild of BMW dealer Peter Monteverdi. Wanting to produce a Swiss rival to Ferrari, he matched American power with European styling and luxurious interiors. Two of these rarities will be offered, including the 1969 Geneva Salon show car, a 1969 575S Coupé.

red classic car by a lake

1956 Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint Barchetta

And there are more Swiss-made cars. The country may be more famous for watchmaking but has had a thriving coachbuilding industry in the 20th century, Representing its golden age is a 1956 Alfa Romeo 1900C Super Sprint Barchetta (CHF 300,000 – 400,000), its Ghia Aigle coachwork designed along the lines of a Riva speedboat with wraparound windscreen. Apparently, the Ghia was ‘banished’ into storage for 30 years by its first owner’s wife when she discovered the car had been bought for his mistress.

A black Renault 1981 on a pavement

1981 Renault 5 Turbo

My final highlight is a seemingly humbler car – a 1981 Renault 5, at one point France’s best-selling model and the first car for many. However, this special and increasingly sought-after high performance Turbo version has had only one owner from new, Catherine Larson, widow of Formula 1 driver Didier Pironi. The 5 has an estimate of CHF 130,000 – 150,000, making it one of the most valuable to be offered but surely one of the most perfect for tackling the twisting mountain roads!

The preview for the Gstaad Sale will be held at the Gstaad Palace Hotel from 1 to 3 July, with the sale from 15.00 on Sunday 1 July.

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three bottles of whisky with glasses filled with whiskey
three bottles of whisky with glasses filled with whiskey

Aberlour, Deanston and Bruichladdich whiskey

Launching his new column for LUX, whiskey collector, Utsava Kasera advises on the perfect whiskies to suit your Father’s Day plans

It is the best of time and it is the worst of time for whisky. What was considered as a drink for older generation is now being revered by the world savvy dandies as their drink of choice. While the whisky boom in the last decade has made the consumers spoilt for choice of their dram, it has also created cult figures like Macallan and Yamazaki. Sometimes even having deep pockets is not enough to get hold of some of the finest collectibles, which either go under the hammer or just reach the drawing rooms of the select few.

A man in a tartan jacket drinking whiskey next to a cask in a whiskey shop

Utsava Kasera

With fathers’ day approaching, I’ll share some suggestions for a tipple with the old man to go along with some stories. Whether you decide to go on a hiking trip with him, play a round of golf or just sit in the garden on a glorious summer afternoon, one of these whiskies will be a pleasant companion for those engaging conversations or silences between them.

Aberlour 16-Reserve Collection

A bottle of Aberlour whiskey with a glass of whiskey on the table

Aberlour 16-Reserve collection

Aberlour produces some fine whiskies but what stands out is their reserve collection.
If sherry is your thing, this is an absolute gem. The nose reminds me of walking in a room full of sweet spices while the palate is a dark chocolate cake with sour cherry, cinnamon and liquorice. At 55 percent ABV, it does set some fireworks at the first sip but grows on you while you continue the evening.
Offered with optional engraving to write that special message.

Find out more: www.aberlour.com/distillery-reserve-collection

Deanston Port Cask 2002

Deanston whiskey bottle with a glass of whiskey

Deanston Port Cask 2002

A rising star in the whisky world, Deanston is getting rave reviews for their whiskies. Under the master distiller Brendan McCarron, they do some interesting experimentations creating delicious spirits with distinct waxy characteristics. Deanston Port Cask is a distinct one as the waxy style is enhanced by flavours of toffee, juicy pear and pineapple. At ABV 51.1, this is a surprisingly easy whisky to drink. Hard to find, but if you’ll go an extra mile, it’ll be a very special gift.

Find out more: deanstonmalt.com

Bruichladdich Black Art 9.1

Black whiskey bottle with a star on it and a glass of whiskey on a table

Bruichladdich Black Art 9.1

Nestled in the beautiful west coast of Scotland, Bruichladdich distillery on Isle of Islay is one of my favourites. Isle of Islay is known for producing peated whiskies but Bruichladdich offers some incredible unpeated choices too. Black Art 9.1 is one of their masterpieces for its sheer complex flavours. This whisky is a honeyed Christmas cake layered with tropical fruits and a hint of sweet vanilla. Savour it to start the evening, finish the evening or just save it for a special occasion, this dram will not disappoint.

Find out more: www.bruichladdich.com/-black-art-1992-edition-09-1/

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A bottle of champagne and a wine glass on a wooden table outside
A bottle of champagne and a wine glass on a wooden table outside

Argonne Aÿ Grand Cru 2013

Ella Johnson visits the oldest family-owned champagne house, Henri Giraud, to taste some of its celebrated cuvées, and hear about the importance of the use of sustainable oak from local forests in its unique ageing process, with twelfth-generation owner Claude Giraud and winemaker Sébastien Le Golvet

Henri Giraud has been producing champagne since 1625 and is still owned by its founding family – a rarity among Champagne’s oldest houses. Together, twelfth-generation owner Claude Giraud, and winemaker Sebastien Le Golvet create their celebrated (and very expensive) champagnes which combine richness, freshness, and saline qualities, from their vineyards in Äy, on the southern cusp of the Montagne de Reims, in the heart of the Champagne region.

A man standing next to a vineyard

Claude Giraud, CEO of Henri Giraud is the 12th generation to lead the estate

The richness comes from the pinot noir grapes, which are warmed by the sun on the south-facing slopes of the Montagne. The River Marne, flowing past the property, provides their wines’ freshness; and saline and mineral qualities come from the 200 metres of pure chalk beneath the soil.

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But their champagnes have something else. They are fermented and matured in oak barriques (small barrels) sourced from the Argonne Forest, which stretches from the flatlands of the east of the Champagne region to the hilly border with Lorraine. The forest has been at the heart of European history for millennia and, for each bottle of the Argonne cuvée sold, Henri Giraud plants new two-year-old oak trees and maintains them for five years to replace the oaks they fell to create their barriques.

Oak barrels in a room with coloured lights on the walls

Henri Giraud is committed to replanting and maintaining the same number of oak trees that they use to create their barrels, in order to ferment their champagne

So-called ‘kings of experimentation’, Giraud and Le Golvet have identified ten different terroirs in the Argonne Forest, which they use to intensify the complexion of their wines. They know that if they create barrels from the oak trees which come from a plot called Les Châtrices, for instance, the wine will have a lot of “sharpness and tension”, they tell me. If they use another terroir in the forest, Lachalade, “it will be richer and rounder”.

Sébastien Le Golvet has been making champagne at Henri Giraud since 2000

Le Golvet prefers to vinify the majority of his wine in these oak barrels. He meticulously tastes and memorises each one – 1,200 in total – in order to produce the perfect blend. It would be more efficient to produce the Maison’s 300,000 yearly bottles of wine in tanks, of course, but efficiency is not the endgame. ‘When Sébastien creates his wine, he is like an artist in front of a painting. He can create different colours. The result is just in a bottle,’ says the Maison. The remaining ten percent is vinified in egg-shaped amphorae, made from sandstone, which provides the fruitiness for which the Henri Giraud Dame-Jane rosé cuvée is famed.

A wine bottle next to its cask

Fût de Chêne MV17

Champagne Henri Giraud has changed since Le Golvet took the winemaking reins from Claude Giraud in 2000. ‘Claude’s wine was much richer.’ I am told. ‘Sébastien is more precise, young. He has a different style. The more difficult the vintage, for Sebastién, the better it turns out. It’s the challenge. But both want to try new things each year, to discover more and more terroir’.

Read more: A tasting of Dalla Valle wines with the owners

It is fitting, then, that neither Le Golvet or Giraud is able to choose their best wine to date. ‘I like to say that the best wine we have ever produced is the wine we will produce tomorrow. The wines become more precise each time.’

A green vineyard

Henri Giraud has been producing the finest champagnes since 1625

We sample their Fût de Chêne MV 17 and Argonne Aÿ Grand Cru Brut 2013 in their tasting room. These are huge, rich champagnes despite the balance and limpidity, and Giraud breaks out a box of the perfect match for them. Not foie gras (which we would in any case have declined) or an aged Pecorino Romano cheese (which would have gone rather nicely), but some Cohiba Behike cigars. The king of cigars went rather well with this, Champagne royalty.

Find out more: champagne-giraud.com

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red, green and black lamborghinis parked in front of a mountain
red, green and black lamborghinis parked in front of a mountain

Our fleet at the foot of the Cervino (Matterhorn) in Cervina, Italy

You might associate Lamborghinis with Dubai, Cannes, Los Angeles and London, shooting down city streets or parked outside expensive restaurants and hotels. Candice Tucker visits Sant’Agata Bolognese, Italy, the home of the brand, and drives, and is driven in, the company’s latest models to a village high in the Alps

Like many, I find I can be easily distracted by a Lamborghini’s sleek shape, often ostentatious colours (most famously green, yellow and orange) and of course, the sound the engine makes when someone speeds past you.

Visiting the factory, watching the cars being made, altered my perception of the brand.

Making our way up into the Alps in convoy

Take a quick tour around the factory, in central Italy, and you can begin to see why these cars are some of the most expensive in the world. There are rows of stations, and clocks on each row that don’t say the time, but the amount of minutes each worker has left to work on their station. 33 minutes. That’s how long each worker in the main Urus factory has to do their part in the making of each Lamborghini. From the door fitters to the needle workers on the leather seats, everyone is under a timer to move their part onto the next station. The robots are only used to assist rather than replace the human hand. Your green status symbol is indeed hand made.

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The Lamborghini factory has been CO2 neutral since 2015

The future is electric cars, and it’s difficult to imagine what this means for Lamborghini’s distinct sounding engines, but this hasn’t stopped them pursuing a hybrid transition with gusto. They expect by 2023 to create their first hybrid series production car and by the second half of the decade, Lamborghini has committed to creating a fully electric model.

The Lamborghini V12 is the brand’s flagship engine

After the factory came the journey, in various Lamborghinis. I started mine in the ‘beast’, also known as the ‘Urus’. Lamborghini’s SUV (large 4×4) is huge and extremely powerful. Driving it, you feel as if you are in the emperor of SUVs. Very big, very fast, and you can alter driving modes like in a supercar. “Corsa” mode felt wicked – Corsa means race in Italian.

Lamborghinis parked in a semi circle inside a fort

Lamborghini makes a full-on supercar, the Aventador; a more practical two-seater sports car, the Huracán; and a powerful SUV, the Urus. All are available in a variety of specifications – and colours

If you want to take a step further into raciness mode, the Huracán STO or the SVJ Aventador might interest you. The Aventador is futuristic and showy from the outside. Inside, the SVJ is stripped of all its finer comforts, and you sit in unforgiving carbon fibre seats. It’s all about speed, which is no surprise given it is renowned V12 engine, which was deafening particularly when you drive through tunnels, the sound drilling through your ears. The STO is slightly lighter to drive and the exterior of the car is as close as you’ll get to looking like a race car on the road. Both cars offer the same extreme performance, but the STO allows you to remain cocooned in luxury by comparison.

The Urus was the most sold Lamborghini model in 2021, with 5,021 deliveries

Having travelled across the motorway, through the ancient part of the village of Bard in the Aosta valley (where cars are normally prohibited) and up the mountains to Cervinia, Lamborghini demonstrate that their cars are fit for purpose on any terrain. Whilst I wouldn’t suggest driving on icy roads, we put the STO and the Huracán EVO to the test, driving on an ice ring. The STO being a rear wheel drive, made this slightly more difficult to manoeuvre, but the EVO retained its speed and control.

Huracán EVO spinning on the ice track

The ultimate experience for me was the Huracán EVO Spyder. This is a convertible 640 horsepower supercar. Scaling the Italian Alps with the roof down, enjoying the fresh mountain air casting over your face was fun. With no space for a suitcase or even a hand luggage, the EVO wouldn’t be the car for your family ski holiday but it’s perfect for a day trip. The lightness of the car made it very agile up the mountain.

Read more: A tasting of Dalla Valle wines with the owners

Driving through the streets of the village of Bard, in the Aosta valley, where cars are usually prohibited. You can see why

There were no other Lamborghinis of any colour in Cervinia. It’s not that kind of place. It’s all about cows, mountain air, and the shadow of the Matterhorn. But what an adventure getting there in four of the most exciting and eye-catching cars in the world.

Find out more: lamborghini.com

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Reading time: 4 min
Mercedes in black
Mercedes in blackProper ceramic coating, after a thorough paintwork correction, is the only way to make your new car look properly new, as LUX discovers with its recently purchased high-performance convertible

When you’re choosing a new car, there are many questions to ponder. Electric, hybrid or petrol? (The eco-friendly answer requires some research in each case.) Which brand? Exterior colour, interior colour, options? Which wheels? Did you think about tyre brand (a whole other world)? Are there any extras that will help with resale? (The short answer: you won’t get the extra couple of thousand you pay for the head-up display or the carbon fibre steering wheel back, but the right options make it easier to sell).

Very few people ponder one fundamental issue. Your brand new car is likely to be delivered with paintwork that is scratched and pitted, and it will only get worse unless you do something about it.

This is not due to some plot by manufacturers. But whether you buy a Ferrari or a Cinquecento, a Tesla or a Lamborghini, from the point it is painted at the factory, your car will spend weeks or months being transported to you, during which point it will (hopefully) not receive any plainly-visible scratches or marks. But it will be wiped, cleaned, dried and “valeted” on various occasions, and those actions, done in a hurry with the best of intentions, leave swirls and scratches on your paint, clearly visible on close inspection. And without further protection, that will only get dramatically worse during your ownership.

That’s where a proper ceramic coat comes in. Ceramic coating is to old-fashioned polishing and waxing what an iPhone 12 is to a Nokia, and here LUX hands over to Ahmed Al-Wajih, director of 1080, who was responsible for the shine on our Mercedes C63S Cabriolet Brabus 600 in these photographs, courtesy of products by market-leader G-Techniq.

red white and silver paint bottles

LUX: What happens to unprotected paint on a car under normal circumstances (without ceramic coating)?
Ahmed Al-Wajih: Unprotected paint is exposed to elements in our environment, such as oxidation from the sun, contamination from pollen tree sap and bird droppings. These can be very harmful to your vehicle’s paintwork if not addressed immediately and safely. An unprotected surface has a much faster wear rate than a protected surface.

LUX: Can you describe the science of paint – that what most people think is a scratch in paint is actually in a clear coat?
Ahmed Al-Wajih: Traditionally vehicles had a single stage paint, which was oil based and was just paint onto of the panel. Today we have three-layer paints on most panels, if not all. It consists of primer, base coat and the clear coat. The base coat is the actual colour that you see and the clear coat is a transparent layer that adds the final finish to the paint. The clear coat also provides a layer of protection to the base coat. Therefore the swirls, holograms, dullness in the paint are typically imperfections on the clear coat and not the base coat. Deep scratches that can be felt by your fingernail usually mean that the damage has gone beyond the clear coat and into the base coat or primer.

LUX: What does ceramic coating (and the other protection you supply) do?
Ahmed Al-Wajih: A ceramic coating for the paintwork is designed to protect the vehicle’s surfaces. The main purpose of a ceramic coating is to bond with the clear coat to make it harder, therefore more resistant to swirls and light scratches, as well as to provide protection against oxidation. It also provides high levels of gloss and hydrophobic qualities.

For the interior, chemicals were used to protect the floor mats and carpets. The purpose of this is to protect the carpets from stains caused by liquids and dirt that can become imbedded into the fibres. A sealant was used to protect the leather from dye transfer and to help clean the leather much quicker.

LUX: What is the difference between ceramic coating and traditional wax?
Ahmed Al-Wajih: The main difference between ceramic and wax to the paintwork is durability. A ceramic coating is a long-lasting coating that bonds within the clear coat particles. For example Gtechniq’s flagship ceramic, the Crystal Serum Ultra, is warranted for nine years. It will not wear away with aggressive washing chemicals, or even machine polishing, the only way to remove it is by sanding down the panel. A wax coating on the other hand may be topped up by layers, however an aggressive chemical will take the wax of the surface.

Tape and paint tools hanging on a wall

LUX: What exactly did you do in the process of coating our car?.
Ahmed Al-Wajih: First step in our process is to decontaminate the vehicle and strip off any sealants that are on the vehicle. This is a crucial part of the process as we need to ensure that the paintwork is clean and without any contaminates before we can move onto the next stage. Once the vehicle has been decontaminated and dried, we worked on the interior, again ensuring that all surfaces were clean.

The vehicle was then put on our ramp and we safely raised the car and removed the wheels. The wheels were then taken to our wash bay to be cleaned once again. The wheel arches were also cleaned again. Once the wheels were dried, they were protected using Gtechniq C5 wheel armour. The callipers were also protected using the C5 wheel armour. The interior was then protected using Gtechniq’s L1 leather guard for the leather surfaces and I1 Smart fabric for the carpets, alcantara and floor mats. The I1 Smart fabric was also used on the soft top.

We then inspected the vehicles paintwork and identified specific areas that needed extra attention and correction. We masked the vehicle and began our correction of those areas. Once this was complete we gave the vehicle a one stage enhancement process with the aim to further enhance the depth of the Obsidian black and ensure that the paintwork is in the best possible condition.

Once this process was complete we began prepping the paintwork using a panel wipe. The purpose of this process is to clean the panels and ensure that they are free from anything that may contaminate the application of the ceramic coating. Once this process was complete we began applying the Crystal Serum Ultra. Once we completed this process we left the ceramic to cure overnight. The following morning we inspected the paintwork to ensure that the ceramic had bonded properly. We then applied C2 Crystal laquer which acts as a top up coating for the ceramic. We also protected the glass using Gtechniq’s Smart Glass. Once we were happy that the ceramic to the wheels, body, interior and glass had cured we safely put the wheels back onto the vehicle and ensure that the wheels were torqued back up to the manufacturer’s specification.

Once again the vehicle was moved to our final inspection bay [with all round flourescent lighting] and we gave the vehicle a final inspection to ensure that it met our standards.

interior of a mercedes

LUX: Why use Gtechniq products?
Ahmed Al-Wajih: Gtechniq is a leader in the world of ceramic coatings. They put a lot of research and development into their products and stand by them. There are many different brands for ceramic coatings but there are very few that have the same international recognition.

LUX: There are detailers offering clients mobile ceramic coating in hours. Your process takes three days. What is the difference?
Ahmed Al-Wajih: There are different levels of ceramic coating, There is a liquid ceramic coating which is very easily applied, you spray it on and wipe it off. There are also ceramic coatings which are not semi-permanent which can also be applied without the risk of causing much damage as removing the coating is easy.

Once you get to the semi permanent coatings such as the five year or nine year coatings, you need the paintwork to be perfect before you apply the coating as any imperfection will be locked in for the duration of the ceramic coating. It is not impossible, however it puts the person applying the coating at a big disadvantage.

We have a studio where we are able to control the lighting, temperature, and positioning of the vehicle. All of this helps us to produce incredible and consistent results.It would be a big disadvantage trying to correct a car with poor light and bad weather conditions.

LUX: People buying a brand new car may not believe their car needs paint correction (ahead of protection). Tell us what you find on brand new cars.
Ahmed Al-Wajih: Believe it or not I have yet too come across a brand new car that is without imperfections. To the untrained eye the car may be glossy and shiny but to a trained eye, there are swirls, light scratches from where the vehicle has been valeting prior to delivery. The vehicle may have been in transport and exposed to the elements. causing etchings on the paintwork Many people do not see the imperfections and are happy to live with it, but if you are going to project your vehicle, you would really need to perfect the paintwork, because if you see it over the coating, there is not much that can be done.

A man in a black uniform working in a car paint shop

LUX: Why choose a ceramic coat over a clear paint protection film wrap?
Ahmed Al-Wajih: If you are after protection, then the best form of protection is PPF (paint protection film). It protects the paintwork far better than ceramic. However PPF is costly and can cost more per panel than if you were just to have that panel painted. Also the level of shine and depth does not match that of a ceramic coating, although having said that, technology in PPF has come a long way and the quality is getting better.

LUX: For classic cars, you may still suggest a wax instead of a ceramic coat. Why?
Ahmed Al-Wajih: When recommending a product, we try to identify the purpose of why your vehicle is with us and what it is that you are trying to achieve. If you have a classic car that is garaged most days in the year and sees the odd outing to an event, chances are that the vehicle would not be exposed to a lot of contaminants. In addition tot his the paint may be very thin from previous years and a correction would not be suitable. A carnauba wax finish in this instance would be more suitable. The vehicle would still have protection, the paintwork would still have gloss and depth in the colour and more layers can be added on. If that same vehicle was to be parked on the street and driven daily thence would suggest a ceramic coating.

Portrait and product photography by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

1080london.com

gtechniq.co.uk

 

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Reading time: 9 min
green and black car
old yellow car

1938 Bugatti Type 57 C Stelvio Cabriolet

Maarten Ten Holder, Managing Director of Bonhams Motoring, tells LUX his top picks at Les Grandes Marques du Monde in Paris, ahead of the sale on Thursday 3rd February 2022. A sale which features cars being sold up to £2,100,000
a man standing by a black car

Maarten Ten Holden

Les Grandes Marques à Paris, Bonhams’ European season-opener is an event I look forward to every year. Traditionally held at the Grand Palais, located between the Champs-Elysees and the Seine, this venue is one of the more spectacular settings for our many international car auctions.

This year, the sale has relocated to the Grand Palais 2.0, le Grand Palais Éphémère, a stunning temporary building which is serving as the city’s exhibition space during the restoration of the original. Located on the Champs-the-Mars, right at the foot of the Eiffel tower, this modular, sustainable structure is not only environmentally friendly, but through its design and location, might even outshine its historical sibling.

But there is more: inspired by the glamour of Éphémère, we decided to add a new luxury sale of more than 125 watches to our series of sales in Paris, which is the perfect complement to our regular line up.

We will present more than 100 of the most exquisite collectors’ cars, from the pioneers to contemporary supercars. Creating a shortlist has proven a tricky task, but here are just a few of my top picks…

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1964 Porsche 904 GTS, estimate €1,300,000 – 1,600,000
One of the biggest racing stars of the 1960S, the mid-engined Porsche 904 GTS sportscar was owned by a star: the Hollywood great, Robert Redford, who drove it for nearly a decade. The model was called the ‘giant killer’ for its success in such famous events as the Monte Carlo Rally.

A green car

Robert Redford’s Porsche 904 GTS

2015 Ferrari LaFerrari, estimate €2,000,000 – 2,500,000
The F1-inspired hybrid hypercar was described by Ferrari as its most ambitious car, with its electric motor and V12 petrol engines combining to create a staggering power output of 950bhp. This rare yellow example has only driven 930km from new.

A yellow ferrari in the snow

2015 Ferrari LaFerrari Coupé

‘Le Patron’ 1938 Type 57C Special Coupé, €1,600,000 – 2,000,000
The Paris sale always showcases the finest French cars; and this Art Deco beauty is truly special. Known as ‘Le Patron’ it was named after and used by company founder Ettore Bugatti himself and its bespoke coachwork is believed to be the final design created by his son Jean.

green and black car

‘Le Patron’,1936 Bugatti 57C

1996 Bugatti EB110, estimate €1,100,000 – 1,300,000
The most modern of the five Bugattis offered in Paris, the record-setting EB110 supercar was the brainchild of Italian businessman Roman Artioli who revived the brand. The era’s fastest series production sports car has a top speed of 340km/h thanks to its turbocharged V12 engine. This example is one of only 95 GTs produced.

A blue Bugatti by the sea

1996 Bugatti EB110 GT Coupé

1902 Panhard & Levassor Type A2 7HP Tonneau à entrée par l’arrière, estimate €300,000 – 360,000

From the dawn of motoring, this is a remarkably authentic example and one of the best survivors of its genre. It has retained its original engine, coachwork and even leather trim. This car also has successfully completed the famous London-to- Brighton Veteran Car Run with its owner.

an old style black car

1902 Panhard & Levassor Type A2 7HP tonneau à entrée par l’arrière

Read more: ADMO: Alain Ducasse & Dom Pérignon’s Ephemeral Dining Experience

Michael Schumacher’s 2010 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Estate, estimate €50,000 – 100,000 (No Reserve)
This was the daily driver of a true motorsport legend, seven times Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher. It was his company car when he joined the newly formed Mercedes GP Petronas Formula 1 Team in 2010. Not surprisingly, this top of the range C63 was equipped with €20,000 in luxury options.

A black Mercedes-Benz

Michael Schumacher’s 2010 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Estate

A preview of Les Grandes Marques du Monde will be taking place on Wednesday 2nd February 2022 and the auction will be held on Thursday 3rd February 2022.

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yellow sportscar
yellow sportscar

Ferrari F8 Spider. Photo by Max Earey

In the second part of our supercar series, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of Ferrari F8 Tributo and the F8 Spider

That’s it, folks. Ferrari fans, please shed a tear as, for all the right reasons, these two cars are the end of the bloodline for Ferrari’s celebrated mid-engined V8 series of cars.

For many, this series personifies Ferrari: Magnum PI drove a red one in the 80s TV series. The ancestral line of two-seaters grew in power and capability, though not always beauty, from the sleek 308 of the 1970s and 328 of the 1980s, through the more wedge-shaped 348 and 355 of the 1990s (not always everyone’s cup of tea, but very much of their era), to the more rounded 360 and 430 of the 2000s, and the recent evolution through 458, 488 and F8.

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The engine has always been a V8, and for some years has been an artwork visible through a clear cover behind the driver. From now, for the best of environmental reasons, the V8 will be replaced by a hybrid engine, and so the F8’s engine represents the pinnacle of Ferrari petrol engineering. We tried it out in both the fixed-roof (Tributo) and convertible (Spider) versions of the F8. It’s a glorious piece of machinery, giving a surge of power which grows to the typical Ferrari climax and you shoot towards what would be take-off velocity in a plane.

blue sportscar

Ferrari F8 Tributo. Photo by Max Earey

Every Ferrari handles well, but we couldn’t help feeling Ferrari had engineered some extra joy back into the F8 from the 488 which preceded it. There was a sense that Ferraris were getting too brilliant for their own good, beyond comprehension in the abilities they offered to a driver, but less engaging than of old.

Read more: Catherine Mallyon on the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Success

The F8 engages the driver again, the sharper steering and more involving suspension meaning you really feel like you are driving the car rather than being at the helm of a video game. Crucially, it does so at low speeds, so you don’t feel like you need to be taking it onto a racetrack for it not to be bored – a complaint we have with a number of supercars. Back when the V8 Ferrari bloodline started in the 1970s, the cars were not recommended at low speeds because they overheated and were hard to manoeuvre. More recently, they were easy to drive and reliable but a tad sterile. The F8 addresses this, and how.

steering wheel of car

The F8’s aerodynamic body and control-laden steering wheel are all about the technicality of driving at speed

Whether you go for the Tributo or the Spider just depends on your preferences. The closed-roof car is probably a tad sharper around a racetrack but it is impossible to tell the difference, roof closed, when you are not. We like an open-roofed car so we will take the Spider.

Is it a must-buy V8 Ferrari, the last of its generation? Some would say that moment came with the 458, which was the last to have a non-turbocharged engine, with less power but more glory in its sensations and noise than the F8. Others would point to its predecessor, the 430, the last with a traditional metal-gate gearshift, which has a rawness and sharpness which even the F8 hasn’t quite gained back.

What’s certain is that it’s notable in itself for its sheer tearing thrust, the sharpness and brilliance of its handling and its joie de vivre. Ferrari really is on a roll, and Ferrari fans everywhere will be hoping it continues as the company moves into a more electric future.

LUX rating: 19/20
Find out more: ferrari.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue.

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white mercedes parked outside a hotel
white mercedes parked outside a hotel

The Mercedes-AMG G 63 is part limousine, part sports car and part SUV, with its lavishly appointed interior, sheer pace and rugged details such as the extended wheel arches

From supercar to supreme cruiser, our reviewers sample some of the latest and greatest from the automotive world, starting with the Mercedes-AMG G 63

Rain; hail; wind; floods. The north European summer offered it all this year. So, we decided to do a country drive with a difference by calling on the AMG G 63. If you have been to a big metropolis recently, you will have seen these, often driven by gentlemen from major oil-producing regions (and we don’t mean Norway). Don’t let that put you off, though, as the G 63, cartoonishly tall and square with rounded-off corners, is a cool-looking bit of design.

The details are even cooler. Doors have been engineered for the opposite of ‘soft-close’: they need to be shut with a slam, and make a satisfying whump on doing so. You have to climb onto a sill to get into the car, and the noise on start-up sounds like a dozen hungry Rottweilers.

But this is not a car only for poseurs. Its passengers agreed it was the most comfortable SUV they had sat in (and these are connoisseurs of the high-end SUV). Smoother than a Lamborghini Urus, less floaty than a Rolls Cullinan, and utterly distinctive and fun.

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The same could be said for the driving: bumbling out of London, it felt like driving a very nicely engineered small house. A fast one, too, as putting your foot down reveals comical acceleration, aided by well controlled suspension that doesn’t lean too much, but also doesn’t bump you around, either. A very hard trick to get right and one which most manufacturers of fast SUVs don’t manage.

Once we were in the countryside, and since this was a road trip in supposedly one of the most adept off-road vehicles in the world, we had to resist the temptation to head off across the fields to test its abilities. We suspect the car would have been fine (it was even wearing Scorpion all-terrain tyres!), the farmers less so.

Fortunately, it rained on our country hotel retreat. Chewton Glen, in Hampshire, is a hotel that has been around long enough, and been reincarnated enough, that it knows what to do in the rain: big indoor pool with picture windows, big hydrotherapy area (indoors and out), and plenty of salons inside in which to chill out.

But, as the rain poured down, sending mini-streams across the windows and the tarmac, there was only one thing to do. Take the G 63 out along country roads.

car interiors

To say it was in its element would be a gross understatement. It seemed the car grew even stronger and more grippy in the driving rain. Several centimetres flowing across one part of one road didn’t phase it, with not even a tricky twitch of the wheel; braking and accelerating was not just managed, but done with aplomb.

For us, the most important observation was not on the night of the heavy rains, but ahead of the journey home the next day. This tall, quirky looking, idiosyncratic machine is not just super-fast and capable. It is exceptionally comfortable to be in over long distances, which is something we didn’t expect, and, most refreshing and unexpected of all, it’s genuinely fun to drive.

We expected it to be a hoot in town, due to its height, its power and the way instant reactions have been programmed into its being. As a city car you may wish to take into account its size, height (for car parks) and the attention it commands, most of it good, some of it less so. But it is also a highly enjoyable companion on a long drive. And it still looks super-cool on a run around town, particularly if you place a two-metre-high, two-metre wide man in stubble, wrap-around shades, and a shiny suit with a bulge in the passenger seat.

Find out more: mercedes-amg.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

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car event at Italian villa
car event at Italian villa

The new Rolls-Royce Boat Tail was unveiled at Concorso d’Eleganza, Villa d’Este, Lake Como

Rolls-Royce unveiled the world’s most expensive new car at a glamorous event on the shore of Lake Como last week. A recreation of its iconic 1932 model, the Boat Tail comes in a series of three bespoke commissions for clients, believed to be $28m each. Ella Johnson reports

With its wooden hull and sail-like wings, you’d be forgiven for thinking Rolls-Royce Boat Tail belonged on water rather than land. Unveiled at a private ceremony on Lake Como last week, the car’s nautical appearance certainly befitted its watery surroundings; yet this is a car destined to be driven on land – by a very wealthy owner.

The Boat Tail is the latest creation from Rolls-Royce Coachbuild, the division of the UK-based, German-owned manufacturer devoted to making extremely exclusive, limited-run, hand-finished creations for some of the world’s richest people.

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It certainly looks striking, and suited the surroundings of its launch at the Concorso d’Eleganza, the elite classic car show at the Villa d’Este. Standing beside his creation, Rolls-Royce Head of Coachbuild Design Alex Innes described the Boat Tail as ‘transcending mere conveyance’ to ‘become the destination itself’.

There are certainly worse places to be sitting while in the summer traffic jam to get to Club 55 in St Tropez (although the Boat Tail owner would also doubtless have a fleet of helicopters, plus a superyacht and tender, at his disposal for such occasions). The car’s in-built hosting suite at the rear stores two chilled bottles of champagne (platinum-wrapped Armand de Brignac at the launch event, if bling is your thing) plus rotating cocktail tables, leather stools, and a parasol – perfect for that sunset in Malibu. There is also a custom Montblanc pen in the glove compartment and his-and-hers BOVET 1822 timepieces, which can be used as wristwatches, desk clocks, or pocket watches.

car with boot open

The Boat Tail on display took four years from concept to completion, with the close involvement of its owner. It is also the second offering from Rolls-Royce Coachbuild, inaugurated in 2017 with the launch of the dramatic Sweptail, which evoked memories of the dramatic grand touring cars of the 1930s. Rolls-Royce say that Coachbuild, an invitation-only service for its top clients, is designed to satiate the appetite of clients who want to commission and curate personalised cars – described by the marque as ‘the automotive equivalent of haute couture’.

Read more: The eco-art organisation making a stand at Frieze

As Rolls-Royce CEO Torsten Müller-Otvös commented to the gathered connoisseurs and collectors at the launch, the Boat Tail is ‘the most ambitious commission we have ever undertaken, in terms of technical complexity, innovative bespoke detailing and sheer creative audacity’.

The company is planning on releasing a coachbuilt car every two years, with the next two editions already in advances stages of creation and production. We suggest anyone who is interested in becoming a client buys a few Phantoms, Ghosts and Cullinans in the next few months, and works their way onto the invitation-only list from there. See you at Lake Como.

Find out more: rolls-roycemotorcars.com

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man with glass decanter
whisky bottle and case

Gordon & MacPhail’s Generations 80-Years-Old from Glenlivet Distillery with decanter and case designed by David Adjaye

On the 3rd February 1940 John Urquhart and his son, George, created a spirit at the Glenlivet Distillery, producing a bespoke Gordon & MacPhail cask, only to be sipped in the following millennium. 80 years later, on 7th October 2021, encased in an oak pavilion designed by David Adjaye, the first bottle is going to auction at Sotheby’s Hong Kong. Candice Tucker reports

Generations 80 Years Old from Glenlivet Distillery, Gordon & MacPhail’s latest release and the oldest single malt Scotch whiskey ever bottled, will go on auction this week along with the number one decanter and casing designed by Sir David Adjaye.

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“Maturing a single malt Scotch over eight decades is an art, similar in many ways to architecture where you are creating something that needs to stand the test of time,” commented Ewen Mackintosh, Managing Director at Gordon & MacPhail. “Both Sir David and Gordon & MacPhail share a commitment to invest in the future. We both see the significance of creating something exceptional; leaving a legacy for future generations.”

man with glass decanter

Adjaye with the crystal decanter

The British-Ghanian architect’s casing takes the form of a pavilion-like structure made from oak while the crystal decanter was hand-blown at Scotland’s Glencairn Crystal Studio with two cut lenses that magnify the liquid inside and a darkened oak top. “I wanted to create a design that pays tribute to the role oak plays in transforming liquid into an elixir with almost magical properties,” explained Adjaye.

Read more: Milk Honey Bees Founder Ebinehita Iyere on youth work & creativity

The highest bidder at auction will also receive one-of-one signed lithograph of Sir David’s original, concept drawings and a whisky tasting experience for four in London, conducted by Gordon & MacPhail’s Director of Prestige, Stephen Rankin and attended by Sir David Adjaye, in addition to the framed original cask head of Cask 340 which cradled the spirit for eight decades.

For more information, visit: gordonandmacphail.com, sothebys.com

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classic cars
classic cars

The Lamborghini section of the visitors’ car park featured classic and modern

Last weekend saw the return of one of the world’s most glamorous classic car festivals, at one of the most spectacular venues, the grounds of Blenheim Palace, former home of Winston Churchill, outside Oxford. LUX visited – twice. Photography by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

In some parts of the world, life is returning to an approximation of the world before the pandemic. Events which were merely interesting before 2020 have become thrilling because of the novelty value; and if you are a lover of classic cars, events like Salon Privé, at Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, have always been more than just “interesting”.

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cars outside a palace

The rare gated manual transmission Ferrari 575M Maranello, in Tour de France blue over tan, owned by LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai.

red racing car parked outside marquee

Porsche 904 GTS, winner of Le Mans in 1964, one of the stars of the show at Salon Privé

This year LUX staffers were wowed by Ladies Day on the Friday, an anachronism perhaps but a glamorous one; and the awards on the Saturday. The latter featured some of the world’s most beautiful classics inside the enclosure in the Palace grounds; and a pretty stunning array of visitors’ cars, arranged by marque, in the car park at the front of the palace.

Read more: A Luxurious Escape to The Ritz-Carlton, Abama

race car

Classic racing Ferraris are now almost priceless and tend to change hands off the market only

classic red car

Legendary Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing

A very refreshing day out, whether you were out to buy a £1m Porsche 993 RS or just gaze at an array of Ferraris.

Find out more: salonpriveconcours.com

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red car on the road
red car on the road

The BMW M5 Competition may retain the conservative form of the 5 Series, but the car’s capabilities say otherwise

In the final part of our Fast & Luxurious car series from the Summer 2021 issue, LUX’s car reviewer takes the BMW M5 Competition for a spin

For an older generation of car enthusiasts, BMW’s M5 has a particular and hallowed heritage. There is intense debate about which generation of M5 history will judge best, whether it’s the original 1980s flavour, the 1990s editions with the souped-up engines, or the 2000s edition with the F1-like V10 engine. It’s a debate that is unlikely to end soon, even with the apparition of this, the latest M5. As usual, it is more powerful, faster and more luxurious than the generation before.

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On driving it down an empty country lane, it is also evident that BMW’s engineers have tried to keep true to the memory of the original in terms of handling. The company may put its ‘M’ for motorsport label on all its fast cars these days, but the M5 has a precision of steering, and a purity of balance, that is unique and highly impressive for a four-door saloon car.

car interiors

The faster you go, the sharper the curve, the more the car feeds back, feels lighter, at ease. The transformation from big and slightly anonymous car around town – you could be driving more or less any large-ish BMW – to sports car that feels like it just wants to be on a racetrack is quite striking.

Read more: Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava on light and space

The car’s interior and overall experience for passengers is one of a smart, comfortable saloon car; unless you are taking the car to its limits, they are unlikely to notice they are in anything much different to the executive sedan that shuttled them from the airport. The engine note from its twin-turbo V8 is muted, almost unnoticeable. The ride is firmly controlled and solid. With the driver settings on comfort mode, anyone could drive it anywhere and not know they are in anything special.

car steering wheel

That is the way it has always been with the M5. Even the earliest model, in the 1980s when car bodykits and show-off wings were all the rage, was deliberately dressed down to look like a normal BMW; there was even a slower model in the range, the M535i, that looked more showy about its speed. For us it was heartening to see that, despite its size (this car feels enormous), the M5 hasn’t turned into a straight-line drag racer. If your life involves driving down a twisty country lane, this is still the best car in the world.

LUX rating: 18.5/20

Find out more: bmw.co.uk

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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silver sportscar
silver sportscar

Image by Mark Fagelson Photography

In the third part of our Fast & Luxurious car series from the Summer 2021 issue, LUX’s car reviewer gets behind the wheel of Porsche’s powerful SUV: the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid

When we were younger, we had a dream idea of what the perfect SUV would be. An effortless, go anywhere car with endless performance and the ability to take both motorways and winding roads (and on-roads) in its stride, without skipping a beat.

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The first drive in a then new 1990s Range Rover put us to rights. It was quite powerful, and comfortable, and could certainly go anywhere across a field. But at the moment it started even looking at a corner, the whole car would lean over as if it were going to fall on its side, and the general squishiness of its performance made it feel like driving a marshmallow on roller stilts. Not an edifying experience.
Things have moved a long way in the right direction since then, with technology, so often blamed for hampering a successful car experience, providing all the gains.

Now, it is possible to build a huge, luxurious, powerful SUV with the kind of road presence beloved of purchasers of this type of car, and a high centre of gravity which would have made a previous generation of cars lean over in corners. Due to electronics, everything stays flat.

Nowhere is this more apparent then in our spirited drive of the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid. This Porsche SUV is top of the range, having enough horsepower to tow a small European country if required. There is a huge amount of room for five passengers and their luggage, and a high-tech interior that will please, and probably confuse, the most ardent technologist.

This Cayenne can win a drag race with almost anything else on the road, its excellent gearbox reading your mind as you approach corners in sport mode, and changing down ready for the next assault of a straight. And in the corners themselves, it stays flat and precise.

Read more: An exclusive tasting of Moët & Chandon’s Grand Vintage 2013

Driving it this way, you do wonder though whether such high-performance needs would be better served by a lighter, lower car like Porsche’s own 911. That car can’t squeeze in as many people and bags as this, and it certainly can’t make its way over a muddy field, but you wonder whether owners of Cayennes do that much real off-roading, or that much super high-performance driving. Most of them would be just as happy with a normal model Cayenne.

But if you want the best of the best, this is up there. Lamborghini’s Urus is even more wild and exciting to drive, but more ‘out there’ and perhaps too much for everyday driving. Bentley’s Bentayga and the Rolls-Royce Cullinan are different types of car, more expensive and more focused on luxury than performance.

In that sense the Cayenne Turbo S E-Hybrid is that ultimate SUV for the person who wants it all. Overkill, perhaps, but then what’s the car for?

LUX rating: 18/20

Find out more: porsche.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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champagne drinking
champagne drinking

Image courtesy of Moët & Chandon

LUX joins Moët & Chandon’s cellar master Benoît Gouez, over Zoom, at Château de Saran for an exclusive tasting of the champagne house’s latest vintage release

It’s hard to imagine a more perfect setting in which to drink champagne than Château de Saran, Moët & Chandon’s grand 18th-Century hunting lodge in Épernay where close friends of the maison – celebrities, fashion designers, artists politicians and royalty – are invited for glittering dinners and intimate soirées. Sadly, due to pandemic restrictions, our tasting happens over Zoom, led by Moët & Chandon’s distinguished cellar master Benoît Gouez, who introduces and opens the Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2013 while seated in the château’s majestic drawing room. Meanwhile, we have our own bottle, along with the Grand Vintage Rosé, to sample, complete with two Moët & Chandon glasses.

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First created in 1842, and now in its 75th iteration, each Grand Vintage cuvée is created from a selection of a single year’s most remarkable wine that reflects the cellar master’s subjective and emotional assessment of the personality and potential of each variety. Mr. Gouez explains that 2013 was a particularly cold and wet year, which resulted in a delayed harvest in October, followed by a cool spring and then, uncharacteristically warm summer. All of this, however, helped to create the sensuous, rustic aromas of the vintage – initial notes of fresh apple and pear give way to more textured, woody flavours. It might seem trite to say, but it tastes golden, bringing to mind the warm shades of autumnal leaves. By contrast, the Grand Vintage Rosé is more fruity and floral, with a slight hint of spice.

champagne bottle with two glasses

Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2013 Rosé. Image courtesy of Moët & Chandon

At the end of our tasting, Mr. Gouez leads us (virtually) through to the Château’s kitchen where Executive Chef Marco Fadiga teaches us how to prepare a dinner pairing for the rosé: poached lobster in a grenadine and grapefruit broth. Despite following the chef’s instructions carefully, our final dish, inevitably, doesn’t look (and most likely taste) anywhere near as delectable as his, but the fresh bitterness and sweetness of the fruit with the meatiness of the lobster bring out the depth and richness of the rosé beautifully. By the end of the evening, we’ve almost forgotten that we’re not actually in a French hunting lodge overlooking miles of verdant green vineyards in the capitale du Champagne.

Find out more: moet.com

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White car on the road
White car on the road

The Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé transforms a sports car into a high-performance saloon

In the second part of our Fast & Luxurious car series from the Summer 2021 issue, LUX’s car reviewer takes the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door Coupé for a test drive around England’s country lanes

Fast, four-door saloon cars used to be among the most exciting things on the road, believe it or not. In the 1980s, BMW produced its first M5, with the racing engine from its M1 supercar. At the time, it was a car that had it all, speed to match the Ferrari of the day, but comfort and reliability and space as well.

A tuning company in Germany called AMG started doing similar things to solid, dull, respectable, comfortable Mercedes cars of the time. They took one and made it something called the Hammer, which became a legend, so rare and desirable that it is now an expensive classic car.

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Since then, technological advances have made this category swell to the point of mundanity. A Tesla is now as fast as a Ferrari, without claiming to be ‘sporting’ in any way – in fact the whole concept of what constitutes a sports car is being eroded, but that’s a different matter.

Every prestige manufacturer now produces a very fast car that can fit the whole family and its Irish wolfhound, and generally these machines are astonishingly capable and often astonishingly unremarkable to drive.

car interiors and steering wheel

As a consequence, we approached the AMG GT 4-Door (yes, that’s its name) with mixed feelings. AMG was purchased and absorbed into Mercedes 20 years ago. Within this range from this single manufacturer alone, there are more than 20 cars which can easily go faster than you could possibly imagine going, unless you have a private race track or autobahn at your disposal.

Meanwhile, the AMG GT, the two-door sports car on which this big saloon is based, is very rapid, and exciting on the right day, but a bit uni-dimensional. It wants to be loud and go fast. All. The. Time.

How would that translate into a four-door, four-seater car whose raison d’être is to be versatile? And aren’t there enough fast, spacious AMGs already?

Read more: LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai on media

Press the start button and – ROWWF. This is a big car with a big heart, its turbocharged V8 very much telling you it is there. It doesn’t take long to work out what kind of car this is. The steering is direct and responsive and has a little bit of feedback – rare in these years of electrically assisted steering. Mercedes does an excellent job in this area, best of any of its direct rivals. Which makes it a very satisfying car to drive, even at low speeds.

On the open highway, the car settles into a comfortable cruise, rumble from the engine telling you that it wants to play, but it is neither restless nor intrusive. The ride is comfortable. The interior is sculpted, luxurious and highly digital. It feels like taking a big but friendly dog out for a walk – straining at its leash a little but well trained.

The big surprise, though, comes when hurling this big, super-powerful car down a country lane. It feels neither big nor heavy, instead as eager as a large puppy.

car tyres

It burns down straights and lollops around corners delightedly, always enthusiastic, highly capable, and highly enjoyable. It feels faster than any of the other hyper-saloon cars on sale, although there is no way anyone would be able to feel that different on a public road, apart from in a couple of instances over a couple of seconds each time. But most importantly, it feels fun, in an almost old-fashioned way. It is not clinical, like so many cars.

Interestingly, this does not come with any significant compromises. The seats are the best we have tried in any saloon car. It may not be as quiet as some cars, but it is far more relaxing to drive than its two-door sibling.

It’s only real drawback is that it is priced at a higher category to cars like the current BMW M5. That is completely justified, for its combination of even higher performance, more comfort and sophistication. But at that price level, you are into the world of even more prestigious brands, where a name counts for as much as anything else in the ownership experience. So while this is probably the best big super-saloon car ever made we are not sure whether it will find a big market. It deserves to.

LUX rating: 19/20

Find out more: mercedes-amg.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 3 min
convertible sportscar
convertible sportscar

The Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet. Courtesy of Switzerland Tourism/André Meier.

In the latest iteration of our Fast & Luxurious car series, LUX’s car reviewer tries out four new versions of well-established models from Porsche, Mercedes-AMG and BMW. First up is the Porsche 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet

The sequence of events that led to this story is as follows. (1) At an early age, watch the James Bond classic Goldfinger, and be entranced by the sequence where Sean Connery’s Bond drives his Aston Martin DB5 in a chase up the spectacular Furka Pass. (2) Soon after, be driven up and down said pass as a small child, with family, in quite a slow, unremarkable car, whose engine and brakes overheated. Wonder what it would be like to do the same without family, in a proper car, or a proper mission. (3) Many years later. Finish business meeting, sitting outside by the eastern shore of Lake Geneva, on a hot day, clear blue sky, mountains looming all around. Say goodbye to business contact, hit the key button of the car to open roof, sit in car, and look at map (old-fashioned fold-out Michelin map) to plot a route for the rest of the day.

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My next business meeting was at breakfast the next morning in Andermatt, the swanky new resort development in the middle of the Swiss Alps. The car’s satnav and Google on my phone told me the same way to get there. Around 90 minutes on the motorway looping around the north side of the Alps past Bern, turn right on the motorway to Lucerne, along the east side of Lake Lucerne, and up the valley to Andermatt. Around 3.5 hours all told, a simple route, a scenic one, too, as I remembered, with the Alps constantly keeping you company in a panorama on the right as you traced the semicircle.

However, for every circumference of a semicircle, there is a diameter also. A more direct route. And according to my old fashioned map, the direct looked like an even better bet. Unlike some direct routes in the Alps, it was not only navigable by helicopter or eagle. Instead, I would drive along the very good highway up the Rhône valley, past the towns of Martigny, Sion and Visp, a route that is well known to anyone skiing in the Valais region. It was the last part of the road that was more of an unknown: along the very top of the valley past the source of the Rhône, and then a quick climb up the very same Furka that had appeared in my youthful dreams, and on the other side where Andermatt was literally sitting and waiting for me, with a cold beer in its hand.

lakeside road

La-Tour-de-Peilz, with the Rhône valley in the distance. Image by Darius Sanai

Even accounting for the fact that the mountain-pass road would be slower, it all looked to be a little more than half as long as the Google and satnav route. It was a no-brainer.

What’s more, I could not have chosen a better car in the world to put to bed the memory of the old, slow, overheating family steed. I was sitting in a Porsche 911 Carrera 4S convertible, the latest generation 992 model Porsche 911, with the upgraded engine sported by the S model, a drop top and four-wheel drive. It had been a fantastic companion on my way down from the UK, sitting more happily than a sports car has any right to do on the open road and never feeling fidgety, and then being highly rewarding on the occasional detour on the twisty lanes in central France. And in Geneva, transmission in automatic mode, while taking a conference call over Bluetooth, it had been as docile and hands off as any car could be.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf on why tokenisation is the art world’s new frontier

The motorway from Vevey to the eastern end of Lake Geneva stands on a viaduct high above the lake, clutching the mountain side to the left. I caught the occasional glimpse of a spectacular sunset on the other side of the lake over the Jura Mountains. The road dropped down at the end of the lake to meet the gaping mouth of the U-shaped Rhône valley – a study in primary school geography. Flanked by steep mountains either side, the motorway swept along the flat valley floor past pastures, small towns and the occasional industrial unit. Fears of rush-hour traffic proved unfounded: the only time the traffic here gets busy is winter when crowds swarm to the Alpine resorts.

Roof down, slightly chilly air pushing down from the glaciers, sun set, the 911 was in its element as I switch the heated seat on and gently cooked the heating up from its lowest setting. It had been a hot day.

I stopped for petrol just after the last town on my route, Brig. All the roads leading to Alpine resorts were behind us, and the route to the Simplon Pass and Milan had also just been passed. The road was now a simple, well-kept main road, no longer a motorway. Curiously, though, there were no signs to Andermatt, Lucerne, or points beyond. How could that be, for what must be a major Alpine pass? The Furka itself was signposted, by a small, rather apologetic sign, as if it was a destination itself. Curious. Still wondering why no destination was signposted along the route, I pressed on.

mountainous road

The sinuous road up to the Furka Pass. Courtesy of Switzerland Tourism/André Meier.

As the Rhône valley rises towards the source of the river that flows through Lake Geneva, Lyon and into the Mediterranean near Marseille, it remains relatively straight but turns into a V-shaped rather than U-shaped valley (geographers will be interested to note). The forests rushing down either side meet in the middle, and the bottom of the valley is nothing more than a fast-rushing big stream.

This meant the road became entertaining as it swept along the valley sides, occasionally entering a couple of bends as it climbed. After a couple of villages, the gradient became steeper. As there was no other traffic at all on the road, this meant the 911 was really in its element.

Read more: Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava on light and space

There are multiple improvements in this new model of Porsche 911. There is its docility in town, which makes it relaxing and effortless to drive at slow speeds – too effortless for some enthusiasts, doubtless. At the opposite end of the driving spectrum is the way it shoots its way into corners. Previous 911s, for engineering and physics reasons related to the fact that the engine is placed behind the back wheels of the car, would happily zoom along the straight part of a country lane, but then require you to brake a bit more than you would in other sports cars before turning into a corner. At that point, you could use the car’s traction and thrust to power your way out. A required technique and highly entertaining, but it also meant you needed to cramp your style a little when entering corners.

Somehow, they have engineered that out of the new model. This car lashes into corners and lashes out of them again, as I discovered as I climbed higher and higher up my road (there was nobody else there, so it was definitely my road). Tear down a straight, brake, turn and be amazed by the sharpness of the steering into the bend, and then tear out, engine howling in the open air behind you. When the car is really going, there is an intimacy of communication, balance and brilliance to it, a complete contrast to its unassuming nature at urban speeds. I found it more accessible, more entertaining and simply more competent than the 991 model that is its predecessor.

Taking a break to admire the view (I had now climbed quite high into the centre of the Alps), I sat in the car, sipping on some caffeinated energy drink. I noted that the interior of the car had also advanced considerably from the previous generation. The design has been simplified while going a couple of notches in quality, feel and sophistication. It feels like a highly grown-up sports car now, and the previous clutter of plasticky switches has disappeared in favour of a well-located touchscreen.

Car on a road above a lake

At rest above Lake Zurich. Image by Darius Sanai

Andermatt was now only 30 or so kilometres away as the crow flies (still no signs on the road) so, relishing the idea of my end-of-day beer, I tore on, expecting the road to start winding benignly downwards towards the Andermatt valley. Past a closed hotel that announced its views of the Rhône glacier now sadly so depleted it is no longer visible from the old building. And then suddenly the beautifully surfaced road turned into a narrow strip of tarmac with no barriers. And why is there a wall in front of us?

It was now dark, with no street lights, no cat’s-eyes or anything to light the way apart from the car’s headlamps. I drove gingerly towards the wall, which appeared to be in the middle of the road, only to find myself staring at a hunk of mountainside, with the road doing a 90° turn to the left. Like a cartoon character, I tilted my head backwards up the mountainside, clearly visible in front of me through the open top of the car. The road did not go around this wall; it went up it. And it never seemed to stop.

This was why it wasn’t marked as a through road. This was no longer the time to enjoy the 911’s fabulous steering, precision and cornering joy, as a little too much of that joy would result in the 911 being converted briefly into a flying car before it made a reference to another classic film, The Italian Job, which sees its Lamborghini-driving opening star end up at the bottom of an Alpine precipice, very much not alive.

Around half an hour of inching along in the blackness later, I reached the top of the Furka Pass, at nearly 2,500m as high as a top lift station in a ski resort. Here was the symbolic heart of Europe. Behind me, the rivers flowed south, to the Mediterranean. In front of me, they flowed north, to the North Sea. Peeking out of my side window for the first time, I wondered which remote huts or settlements the pinpricks of light I could see to my right belonged to, before realising that I was looking at stars.

Andermatt now beckoned, a cluster of lights clearly visible in the distance, but unnervingly far beneath me. The way down the other side was similar to the last part of the way up, down a steep wall of a mountainside, doubtless being stared at by some curious ibexes in the darkness. And then the road turned into a far better strip of tarmac at the bottom of the wall, and the car covered the last couple of kilometres in less than a couple of minutes.

There is no better car in which to relive the fantasy drive of your youth. But try and do it during daylight.

LUX rating: 19/20

Find out more: porsche.com

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 9 min
mountainous landscape with lake in distance
mountainous landscape with lake in distance

The whisky trail in the Scottish Highlands

Tod Bradbury is head of rare and collectable whiskies at the renowned fine wine and spirits merchants Justerini & Brooks, London. Here, he tells LUX about the company’s elite collection of casks and why whisky is about the experience

man in whisky cellar

Tod Bradbury. Photograph by Gary Morrisroe

1. Can you tell us about the concept behind the Casks of Distinction programme?

The buying of malt whisky by the single cask is the pinnacle of collecting. There is nothing more bespoke, more personal than buying your own unique cask and having it bottled to your very own specifications. The Casks of Distinction programme does just that: it is the private sale of individual casks of rare and exceptional Single Malt Scotch Whisky. Each Cask of Distinction is chosen on the basis of its quality, representing the most exceptional and singular expression of the distillery’s character.

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Buying a cask of whisky is a personalised journey, guaranteed to provide an unforgettable experience. For casks from silent distilleries (those no longer in production) it may even be a once in a lifetime opportunity as these are produced in tiny volumes and supplies are fast dwindling, but with the Casks of Distinction service, they are occasionally within the reach of the individual collector.

whisky bottle and glasses

Whisky tasting at Justerini & Brooks in London. Photograph by Gary Morrisroe

2. How do you select which whiskies will be included in the Casks of Distinction programme?

Once a year, at the liquid library at our archives in Scotland, the Casks of Distinction selection team gathers, led by our four Master Blenders (Dr Craig Wilson, Dr Emma Walker, Maureen Robinson and Dr Jim Beveridge) who have more than a century of combined experience. Their judgement and knowledge is highly regarded and sought out by whisky connoisseurs across the globe. The group of experts select which casks should be considered for the esteemed Casks of Distinction list. They employ their collective understanding to identify the rarest and most exceptional casks to be put forward for evaluation and inclusion to the programme. Many of these casks have been watched closely for years with the group waiting until they reveal a distinctive quality that sets them apart. Others are chance findings of a rare gem, but one that makes a lasting impact on the finder. Each is entirely unique.

Through repeated tastings, each cask is held to the utmost scrutiny by the experts in their analysis of the specific nuances and character of each whisky. No cask reaches the final list without unanimous agreement by all four Master Blenders.

Read more: Product designer Tord Boontje on sustainable materials

3. Where are the casks normally stored after purchase?

If you are one of the privileged few to own a cask, you can rest easy knowing that your individual cask is stored in our warehouse facility at Royal Lochnagar distillery on the Bergeldie Estate nestled near the gates of the Balmoral in the Highland whisky-producing area of Scotland. This ability to get hands on with your own cask during its slow maturation gives a privileged few individuals peace of mind.

Once your whisky has matured, it will be ready for bottling which is where the next stage of the Casks of Distinction journey begins. Some collectors want to store their bottles to be appreciated later in which case we can arrange storage in our subsidiary company Cellarers Ltd, at Octavian Vaults —a bomb-proof storage facility where safekeeping is guaranteed. Other collectors might want to gift bottles to friends and loved ones, or simply have them sent home to take pride of place in their cellar. This, too, can be arranged.

coastal building

Port Ellen distillery isle of Islay, Scotland.

4. Have you noticed a distinct difference in the types of whiskies enjoyed between the sexes?

The whiskies are as individual as the people who consume them and they can be enjoyed by anyone equally. I am always under the impression that everyone likes whisky. It is just a process of finding out which one. At the start of a cask ownership journey, we always begin with consultation. In these conversations, we will build up a picture of a client’s taste profile. The kinds of foods they like, cookery styles preferred, even the variety of tea they drink – these subtle nuances will give form to their preferences. Customers will often come to us with a set idea on the type of whisky they like but our discussions can lead them to some unexpected new discoveries. I’m also of the view that whisky can be enjoyed however you like – whether that’s with water or without, on the rocks or even in a high-ball.

5. What distinguishes an exceptional whisky from a good one?

For me, an exceptional whisky is just as much about who I am with, when and where, as it is about the actual age and quality of the whisky. Whisky is for sharing. An exceptional whisky is one that transports you back to that moment. So pick an excellent group of friends and pull the cork.

6. Which is the most unusual distillery you have visited?

The most unusual Scotch whisky distillery for me would be Mortlach for its fiendishly complicated distillation in which the liquid is actually distilled 2.81 times creating this heavyweight, viscous and “meaty” new make spirit.

Find out more: justerinis.com

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Reading time: 4 min
vineyards
vineyards

Harlan Estate’s vineyards in Napa Valley, California

Will Harlan is the second-generation managing director of California’s iconic Harlan Estate, maker of some of the most expensive and desirable red wines in the world. Over a Zoom tasting of the winery’s flagship wines, Harlan, who took over from his father Bill this year, talks to LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai about how to create a business for the generations

LUX: Your father Bill Harlan, who founded Harlan Estate, got into the wine business almost by accident.
Will Harlan: Yes, Harlan Estate is the first wine endeavour that my father founded, it got started in the early 80s and his vision for Harlan Estate evolved over the course of his life. He grew up in Los Angeles, not around wine, or anything, but he had the opportunity to go to Berkeley [part of the University of California].

During his college years, that he had heard about this place up north, where you could taste wine for free. They wouldn’t check your ID and he really enjoyed going up there as a college student and kind of developed this very fuzzy dream that someday, if he could ever afford it, he would love to find a piece of land, plant a vineyard, make a little bit of wine, start a family.

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He graduated and did a number of different things, but it wasn’t until he approached his forties where he finally had the wherewithal to be able to start thinking more seriously about this dream of coming to Napa. It was probably in the late 70s that he started coming up here and looking for vineyard land, not knowing anything about the wine industry, and through a certain series of events, he tried to purchase a piece of property.

man looking out over vineyards

Will Harlan, second-generation managing director of Harlan Estate

[Napa wine legend] Robert Mondavi really took my dad under his wing, wanting to show him the potential of Napa and that not all land in Napa is created equal. Robert understood how fuzzy this original dream that my father had was and maybe how naïve it was too, but he also recognised that my dad was genuinely interested in doing something in wine and wanted to help.

Mondavi says, “Bill, I know you’re interested in buying some land in Napa Valley, but not all land is created equal. I want to send you to France and really show you what some of the great wines of the world are all about, pieces of land that they’ve been able to capture and what sets them apart.” So he organised a trip for my dad to go to Bordeaux and Burgundy, made the introductions. At the time I don’t think the French wine producers were particularly excited about welcoming random Americans into their homes so it was really important that Robert was able to set this up. My father returned to Napa Valley with this drive, this new vision of wanting to create a “first growth” of California.

LUX: What is your personal vision for Harlan Estate?
Will Harlan: I’m very excited for the future. I feel like there’s so much potential. As a region, I think we’re really coming into our own, in terms of an international kind of understanding and recognition, but I also feel that there’s always the opportunity to understand your land better.

Read more: Product designer Tord Boontje on sustainable materials

LUX: How does Napa Valley compare to Bordeaux, or specifically your wines to top wines from Pauillac (home of chateaux like Lafite, Latour and Mouton-Rothschild)?
Will Harlan: We never like drawing comparisons. They are all different expressions of Cabernet and I think that’s wonderful. We have quite different climates. In Napa Valley, we have almost no rain during the growing season, but we have plenty of sunshine and the humidity is very low so we don’t have mildew issues. We have vines that get quite dry by the end of the growing season so we’ve got to focus almost all of our efforts on ensuring that all of our vineyards are used to this low hydration environment by forcing them to grow very deep root systems for example.

It’s very easy for us to ripen fruit. It’s never really a question whether or not we’re going to achieve ripeness. For us, it’s about aligning that ripeness at an earlier stage in the season before acidity begins dropping off and before sugars start to rise too much.

At the end of the day, the character of the two regions is quite different and I feel that the best thing you can do is to try to really understand your plot within your region and make it the best version of itself.

wine tank room

The Harlan Estate tankroom

LUX: We know some wine collectors who think about buying wine estates and then decide against it, saying they will be a money-pit..
Will Harlan: I’d say they’re probably right! It requires a lot more investment than people expect, but mainly, a lot more time. People who are very wealthy tend to understand return on investment timelines very well and once they start understanding what that means in the wine world, they think, “Right, you wouldn’t touch this.” So, I think it really comes down to what are your motives? Are you doing this because you happen to love wine and you love drinking wine and you think it would be fun and interesting? I would probably say  that’s not the ideal lens to approach getting into the wine industry. But if you’re ready to devote your life and your time and your effort, and probably more capital than you might think, then okay.

Read more: Is Germany the next global art hub?

LUX: How much harder is it to make a great wine at this level than a good wine? And what do you have to do differently?
Will Harlan: It probably comes back to my feelings on character versus quality. First of all, it’s about finding a piece of land and being able to capture that land to create a very distinctive wine. It takes a lot of time and resources, but you also need to recruit a team that has the capacity to really dive in and understand the land. You have to have one of the better teams around, but you also have to understand that it takes time, decades, even generations for people to truly connect to the land, to become familiar with the properties, the growing seasons and how they react to different weather environments.

LUX: We are tasting the 2006 Harlan Estate today – is that the year you started being involved in the family business?
Will Harlan: In ‘06, I was almost 20 years old. So, I wasn’t as involved in the family business yet, but I was always a little bit curious about the wine industry. I didn’t actually think I was going to go into it. I don’t think I had the perspective or the context at that age. On the other hand, it was the first year I worked harvest which was the start of my experience.

family on a lawn

The Harlan family on the lawn of the estate

LUX: And then we have the 2012. By then, you were then fully involved. Is that correct?
Will Harlan: I had started working on a little side project. I was living in San Francisco, working in the tech space and the consumer internet tech space. It turns out San Francisco is just close enough to Napa Valley to feel that gravitational pull I had already started to feel. I was curious about wine, and I was starting to attend a lot of the blending sessions that we had.

I had this idea of wanting to create my own little bottling. It didn’t have a label or a name. I was just bringing it to different social events. I ended up building that into its own proper label called “The Mascot”, which is made from the younger vines by different properties. That was the spark for me: getting to see that I could find my own entrepreneurial path within wine and the family business.

So, that’s what drew me in, but of course, I didn’t really have any credibility in wine world. You have to have worked a proper harvest. 2012 happened to be the year that I got really serious about joining the family business and so I spent that growing season in the winery. It was so rewarding and so fascinating to really understand the production side of things.

Read more: The gastronomic delights of Suvretta House, Switzerland

LUX: Was there ever a possibility given how close you are to Silicon Valley, that you might have just ended up there?
Will Harlan: Very much, that’s what I thought my life was going to be. So, I’m glad that I found my way back to wine, but the tech world has always been very interesting to me.  I got to forge a few really strong friendships there with folks that were at the beginnings of their path.

LUX: There’s quite a strong link between Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and Napa Valley vintners…
Will Harlan: There is. I feel like we have two speeds: Silicon Valley moves extremely quickly and Napa Valley moves at the pace of the seasons. I think Silicon Valley oftentimes yearns for something that is connected to the land, something that is physical, something that has a visceral core to it, that connection to nature. But at the same time, Napa Valley can learn from the Silicon Valery approach to work. So, there’s a wonderful connection between the two.

LUX: Bernard Arnault [owner of LVMH and Chateau Cheval Blanc, Dom Pérignon and Krug champagnes, and many more] or Francois Pinault [owner of Chateau Latour, Clos du Tart, and many more] come to you and say, “Name your price. I want your winery.” What do you say?
Will Harlan: We never built any of this with the intention of selling.

LUX: I’m offering you $2 billion.
Will Harlan: We’re not doing this for the money. Before my dad was in wine, he was in real estate development. You can make a lot more money in real estate development than you can making a few thousand cases of wine. It’s never been our driving motive. And as I said before, you only really get into wine if you truly love it.

wine bottle

Harlan Estate 2006

The Wines (tasting notes by Will Harlan and Darius Sanai)

Harlan Estate 1994

Will Harlan: It’s always had a certain energy and an incredible density. It’s a very tight weave, not necessarily a heavy fabric, but the weave is very fine. It’s just beginning to soften, showing you a little bit of detail. We think it’s going to be one of our very long-lived wines.

Darius Sanai: Initial impressions are of a full bodied, fruit-led wine, but after a few seconds this dissolves into an array of lacy micro-flavours, from meats to dried fruit via summer blossom. Remarkable. As good as any top Bordeaux, except different, less stern and reticent, more talkative, but just as much of a polymath. Serve at a dinner with guests including Ptolemy, Queen Elizabeth I, Einstein, Jane Austen and Audrey Hepburn.

Harlan Estate 2006

Will Harlan: A cooler vintage. It’s taken a bit of time for this wine to relax. It’s still in the phase of being a little bit introverted. It has a certain herbal quality that I always recognise and I feel there is some wonderful detail in there and some higher notes.

Darius Sanai: This wine is all about potential. Like dining with a group of star PHD students from Oxford and Stanford. Enjoyable company now – it’s not closed down or dull – but you just know how much more it will have to say in 10 or 20 years.

Harlan Estate 2012

Will Harlan: This is a vintage very close to my heart. It was a very good growing season Wonderful. It always had this welcoming generosity. It is almost this kind of spherical experience on the palate. Very, very welcoming, very approachable and very seductive in a sense. Very plush and velvety tannins.

Darius Sanai: One to open when receiving the Marquise de Pompadour in one of your rooms at Versailles.

Harlan Estate 2016

Will Harlan: In the long run, I feel that this will be recognised as one of the great vintages of Harlan. It’s kind of like the 1994 in a certain sense. The winter before the 2016 vintage, we finally got some much-needed rain. It shows you so much detail and complexity, even though it’s quite young. It’s special.

Darius Sanai: An intellectual and a seducer: rich and rigorous at the same time. It doesn’t taste young, and it’s delicious now, but you know all its complexities will develop over the eras. A wine for the President to open to celebrate the US Tricentennial in 2076.

Find out more: harlanestate.com

 

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Reading time: 11 min

The 2019 Mille Miglia

The Mille Miglia, once the world’s most challenging road race, is now a historical recreation with the original cars and their avid collectors. On the eve of 2021’s race, we take a trip down memory lane
classic racing car

The 1948 AMP Prete

A 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL ‘Gullwing’

classic car race

A 1928 Bugatti Type 37A

Mercedes-Benz 710 SSK from 1929

A 1948 Ermini Tinarelli 1100 Sport

The Mille Miglia 2021 takes place from 16th to the 19th of June. For more information, visit: 1000miglia.it

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue

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Reading time: 2 min
oak barrels of wine
man standing by wine bottles

Axel Heinz is a winemaker and the estate director of Ornellaia and Masseto

Axel Heinz is Italy’s most celebrated winemaker, responsible for star Super Tuscan wines Masseto and Ornellaia, among others. Over three vintages and on Zoom, he gives Darius Sanai a private tasting and insight into what makes his estates, by the Tuscan coast, so special

If you were to meet Axel Heinz without knowing his trade, you would likely guess that he is a university professor, an academic of some kind criss-crossing his way through a cosmopolitan spiderweb of colleges. His conversation has an international feel of the old school: his perfect, lightly-accented English is pure boarding school, his manner is enquiring, sharp and kindly, all at the same time.

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But Axel is not an academic, although his knowledge base and expertise would instantly see him propelled to a professorship in his relevant field. He is a winemaker, and now estate director of Ornellaia and Masseto. This means this German winemaker with an English education and French roots is responsible for the creation of two of the greatest wines our readers will know, at arguably the greatest wines estate of Italy, and among the greatest in the world. Neighbouring each other, they sit on a slight plateau sloping down to the coast of the Maremma, in Tuscany; you can see the sea from the vineyards. Behind are the forested mountains of the Colline Metallifere, which bring a coolness and freshness to the summer nights, a little like the forest leading up to the plateau de Langres does for the Cote de Nuits in Burgundy (although the Colline are higher, at more than 1000m compared to around 600m for the high ridge in Burgundy).

We always enjoy our private dinners with the ever personable, thoughtful Axel. In the current climate, we sat down with him for a tasting, one-to-one over zoom, with him at the estate in Bolgheri in the Maremma and us at the LUX office in London, of some of the great vintages of Ornellaia, sent to us directly from the estate. Below are his detailed thoughts on each wine, followed by our own reflections.

wine bottles

Ornellaia 2018 La Grazia Vendemmia d’Artista with label designs and artworks by Belgian artist Jan Fabre

Ornellaia 2018

Axel Heinz: I always like to taste youngest to oldest, so you know how the younger wines will develop. 2018 was a rainy year, so the wine is a bit lighter than usual, balanced and fresh. I like to use a narrower glass than most sommeliers recommend; not too wide, in order to get the best from the wine. This seems a particularly open, vibrant wine. It’s already quite delicious, even so young. I would have it with a rare bistecca alla fiorentina (Tuscan T-bone steak).

LUX: Zingy and fresh; if your idea of Tuscan wines is big, punchy beasts, think again. Quite delicate, balanced, and complex with cherries and bags of mixed herbs. Refreshing, for a super Tuscan.

Read more: How will the art industry change post-pandemic?

Ornellaia 2008

Axel Heinz: This was an astonishing vintage. It was incredibly hot all year and then there was a dramatic drop in temperature from 38 degrees to 18 degrees and it stayed that cool all through the second half of September and all of October. It means the wine has the boldness and exuberance of a very hot year, combined with the tight frame which indicates the weather in the second half of September.

The wine is 15% alcohol, but one of the pieces of magic of Bolgheri [the area where Ornellaia and Masseto are made] is that it is rich and opulent but also balanced, with refreshing acidity and a bit of firmness. It’s a privilege that we have something that saves us, which is the closeness of the sea and the cool air. Because if it were just about us keeping the alcohol level down, you would notice some under-ripeness. That’s the beauty of this place. And the refreshing acidity is part of the terroir..which means there are a few things about making wine that we are unable to explain. It may come from our closeness to the sea or the hills behind us that catch moisture and coolness.

LUX: Rich and multilayered, but still fresh; unlike other Tuscan wines from this year, it doesn’t taste of alcohol or jam. A wine for a long, stimulating, thoughtful evening with an old friend you haven’t seen for years – but with the ease at which it disappears, you will need a couple of bottles.

Wine estate

The Ornellaia wine estate

Ornellaia 2000

Axel Heinz: This is similar in character to the 2018, so maybe the 2018 will taste like this in 18 years. This is all about lace and silk, delicacy. I would drink it with something not overpowering, maybe mushrooms or something slow-cooked. It’s ready to drink now, but great wines plateau for a long time.

LUX: A dual-character wine, easy to drink if you feel like something that just vanishes from the glass, but interesting if you want to think about it, with that unique Ornellaia character, fresh, herbs and grilled lamb overtones, and very clean, neither too dry nor too jammy on the finish. Like the others, a unique style of wine, first made only a couple of decades ago, but destined to be one of the world’s great wines for centuries to come.

Find out more: ornellaia.com

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Reading time: 4 min
bottle of whiskey

bottle of whiskey

Before founding J.J. Corry Irish Whiskey in 2015, Louise McGuane worked at LVMH, Diageo and Pernod Ricard in New York, London, Singapore and Paris. She is now based back on her family farm in Cooraclare, County Clare where she matures new make spirit in a purpose built bonded rackhouse and blends it with mature whiskey to create the brand’s signature style. Here, she speaks to Candice Tucker about the whiskey bonding process, the advantages of being a woman and the rising demand for Irish whiskey

woman holding bottle of whiskey

Louise McGuane

1. What made you decide to focus on bonded whiskey rather than the native traditional processes?

Irish whiskey bonding is a native traditional process but it was one that was lost. It was once a vital part of the thriving Irish whiskey industry. Bonders were located in every town in Ireland and rather than distilling whiskey they sourced it from local distilleries and created bespoke bends and flavours for their customers. The practice died out due to the near collapse of the Irish whiskey industry in the early 1900s. We went from having hundreds of distilleries on the island to only two or three. These distilleries cut off the bonders and began to mature, blend and bottle themselves. I felt that my contribution to the rebirth of the industry was to bring back this lost art and when I discovered the J.J. Corry brand which was a well-known bonder in my county in the 1800s I decided to bring the lost art of whiskey bonding back!

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2. Have you faced any challenges working in a field which has traditionally been male dominated?

Of course, my experiences will be shared by all women who work in such industries, but I think it’s very powerful to be underestimated. Irish whiskey continues to be a mostly older male environment and most of them scoffed at me when I started the business, but I went on to launch the first ever design led luxury Irish whiskey and this year made Drinks International Top Ten bestselling Irish Whiskey list, so who’s scoffing now? When you are underestimated you can fly under the radar and achieve incredible things without anybody standing in your way as you are not perceived as a threat.

3. How do you differentiate your bonded whiskey from others?

I have built and am continuing to build the most comprehensive library of flavours of Irish whiskey in my rackhouse. We operate in a similar way to a perfumer: we build a whiskey by blending layers of flavours together. By ensuring I have styles of whiskey from multiple craft producers I have a really vibrant pool of flavours to pull from. This results in utterly unique whiskies and styles.

whiskey rackhouse

The McGuane farm and rackhouse in County Clare

4. What trends have you noticed in the whiskey industry in the last 10 years?

Whiskey is having a moment, people are moving away from traditional scotch and bigger brands and are seeking out authenticity. Whiskey drinkers want to understand who makes the product they demand transparency and they are willing to try non- traditional flavours. Irish whiskey is no doubt the stand out in terms of growth in popularity, it is becoming incredibly collectible.

Read more: Sampling Cristal’s latest vintage

5. In 2019, you launched The Chosen, which at £7,000 a bottle is the most expensive Irish whiskey in history, and yet, it sold out in less than an hour. Why do you think it was so popular?

It was the first ever design led Irish whiskey. I worked with contemporary luxury crystal maker J. Hill Standard and luxury cabinet maker John Galvin and inside was a superlative 28-year-old Single Malt. Only 100 were crafted and their desirability I think centred around the craftsmanship that went into them and the emerging collectability of Irish whiskey.

6. Where is the most memorable place you have tasted whiskey?

It is without a doubt sitting on a 30-year-old Single Malt sherry cask that I sourced in the rackhouse I built myself on my farm to mature my whiskey, enveloped in the scent of whiskey maturing in casks I have travelled all over the world to find.

Find out more: jjcorry.com

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Reading time: 3 min
a horse in a vineyard
a horse in a vineyard
Cristal is the champagne of champagnes, and the new vintage is both brilliant and biodynamic. Give yourself a home-made health cure by buying and sampling, says Darius Sanai

Beetroot Kombucha. Acai beaker with a shot of charcoal. Turmeric, aloe vera and spinach booster shot. To these health drinks, we can add another: Cristal 2013.

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Cristal, as you all know, is the creme de la creme of Louis Roederer champagnes, made in a clear crystalline bottle, as famously favoured by Tsar Nicholas II before he graciously made way for 70 years of communism and prudishness. The bottle comes with its own UV-protective wrap (UV light is the enemy not only of your face on that yacht in Mustique, but of champagne) and in a presentation box; and probably unlike all the ingredients in those health juices, it is 100% biodynamic and organic.

bottle of champagne

Cristal 2013. Image by Emmanuel Allaire

Short of joining Elon Musk on Mars, there is no better way of looking after the soil than farming biodynamically. Not only are all pesticides banned as they are in organic farms; biodiversity is positively encouraged in Roederer’s biodynamic vineyards. Bugs and minibeasts roam free. Vineyards are ploughed by horse and fertilised by, ah, natural horse fertiliser. “It brings us close to the soil,” says winemaker Jean-Baptiste Lecaillon. Can the same be said of the spinach farms producing your green juice?

We were sent a bottle of this new release to taste. Rich and feather-light at the same time, it grows and grows as you taste it and is probably best sampled with a lightly sauced, line-caught sea bream at, say, Oswald’s. Cristal at best is a wine that improves for decades; and 2013 is Cristal at best, according to Lecaillion: “The Cristal of Cristals. It will age beautifully.” As long as you avoid being overthrown by some cultural revolutionaries in the interim.

Find out more: louis-roederer.com

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Man standing against pillar
Man standing against pillar

Matteo Lunelli, CEO & President of Ferrari Trento

Italian sparkling wine producer Ferrari Trento was founded in 1902 and is now under the leadership of the third generation of the Lunelli family. Following the recent announcement of the brand’s partnership with Formula 1, LUX speaks to CEO and President Matteo Lunelli about respecting tradition, sustainability and the challenges of the pandemic

1. How do you become Official Toast of Formula 1, as Ferrari Trento has just become?

Ferrari Trento has already been celebrated at many of the world’s most prestigious events. This includes being the Official Toast of the Emmy Awards in Los Angeles for the past five years and of the BNL International Tennis Tournament in Rome in 2019. The Formula 1 podium is one of the most iconic moments in the world of sport and has been a dream of ours for a long time which we are thrilled to now see come true. Formula 1 chose Ferrari Trento, firstly, because we share common values of passion and excellence, and also because Formula 1 is centred around innovation and looking to the future. This can be seen through this decision to go “beyond” the traditional choice of champagne, with a brand that not only offers a guarantee of quality but is also an ambassador of Italian style. We are thrilled to embark on this project as we strongly believe in the future of Ferrari Trento and in the dream that Giulio Ferrari, our founder, started over a century ago.

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2. You are the third generation of the Lunelli family to keep Ferrari Trento alive, and you have maintained many historic practices within the company. Are there any notable traditions that you needed to let go of?

Our goal is to innovate, but respect traditions. There are certain things that will never change at Ferrari Trento like the pursuit of excellence in every detail and the intimate link with our territory, because all our wines are made exclusively with grapes cultivated on the slopes of the Trentino mountains. On the other hand, we need to adapt to a market and a context that changes rapidly and, therefore, we constantly aim to innovate our business model. Over the years we have embraced digital media in our communication strategy, we have expanded to new markets abroad in order to grow our export sales, and we have moved to organic viticulture, putting strong emphasis on sustainable production.

Formula 1 sparkling wine

Ferrari Trento is the official sparkling wine of F1

3. Ferrari’s Trentodoc sparkling wines utilise environmentally friendly systems which heavily reduces water-consumption in vineyards. Is the wine-industry more broadly taking steps to become more sustainable? Should it do more?

We can certainly say that in the past few years the wine industry has significantly increased its attention to sustainability and I believe that this trend will continue even more in the future. This is especially important for high end consumers and wine lovers who not only look for excellent wines but also ask our companies to maintain an excellent behaviour towards stakeholders and to protecting the environment.

Specifically, the Ferrari winery is located in such a wonderful location that we feel even more duty to protect it and preserve it for future generations. Our strong commitment towards sustainability can be seen (amongst other actions), by the organic certification of all our estate vineyards and by the work carried out on biodiversity. Regarding water, as you mentioned, we utilise an innovative system of precision irrigation in order to reduce water waste. This system, developed together with a start-up called Blue Tentacles, uses a remote control to open and close the valves on the field, and optimise the use of water collecting data of the temperature and humidity through sensors located in vineyards.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf on building a more sustainable art world

4. What are the biggest challenges that the sparkling wine industry faces today?

Sparkling wines are traditionally associated with conviviality and celebrations, which is the opposite of “social distancing”, and why the pandemic had such a strong impact on our industry. In addition, on trade is the most important channel for the Lunelli Group, and bars, hotels and restaurants being closed for such a long time in many countries has of course had an inevitable impact on our sales. We partially compensated the loss of the “outside of home” by increasing our retail and online sales for domestic consumption, however, we strongly believe that conviviality will soon come back, and we look forward to celebrations where people can spend time together again.

Vineyards

Ferrari Trento’s vineyards

5. Is Italian sparkling wine underrated?

Italian sparkling wine has witnessed an extraordinary growth worldwide in the past years, but I would say that sometimes the quality and excellence of Italian sparkling wine is underrated. Most consumers still do not fully recognise the diversity of our sparkling wine denominations which are made in different regions and with different methods.

It is by now evident between wine opinion leaders that in the sparkling wine space, just like in the still wine space, excellence is not a monopoly of one territory in the world. Italy, with the region of Trentino in particular, is in “pole position”, as shown by the results achieved at the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships which saw Ferrari Trento crowned as the “Producer of the Year” for three editions. In 2019, Italy overtook France in terms of awarded medals, while in 2020 the competition saw a draw with 47 gold medals each. We hope to further excel the reputation of Italian fizz as we share our luxury wines on a wider scale than ever before through our partnership with Formula 1.

6. Where and when (apart from a F1 race) is the best place to drink your wine?

During a trip to Italy you can have a glass of Ferrari in some of the best bars and the most iconic travel destinations, however, first of all I would have to say in Trento, visiting our winery and enjoying what we call ‘a tour between beauty and taste’ on a lovely summers day, perhaps during harvest time. Here, we invite guests to have an all-round experience of the world of Ferrari, which begins with a tour of our cellars, where our Trentodoc wines mature gradually under the careful supervision of our winemakers. You can then go up the nearby hills to visit Villa Margon a 16th century mansion which is a treasure of art. The special experience concludes at Locanda Margon, our Michelin starred restaurant in the heart of our vineyards, where you can pair Ferrari with the creations of chef Edoardo Fumagalli.

In general, I think that the best way to enjoy Ferrari is to pair it with high quality food in a great restaurant or during an “aperitivo” with friends. I also love to think about sipping our Trentodoc bubbles whilst watching the sun set onboard a boat in the middle of the sea. However, more than anything, what will make the special moment is always who you will share your wine and emotions with.

Find out more: ferraritrento.com

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Reading time: 5 min
wine estate entrance
wine estate entrance

Spottswoode wine estate in Napa Valley, California

Spottswoode Estate is Napa valley wine aristocracy. Its wines, selling for hundreds of dollars a bottle, are in demand from collectors globally. Beth Novak Milliken, the estate’s second generation owner, is also a leader in sustainability and biodiversity and has secured coveted B-Corp certification for the estate. She speaks to LUX about her challenges and hosts a tasting of some of her finest wines for us over Zoom
woman standing on driveway

Beth Novak Milliken

LUX: Where does your sustainability ethos come from?
Beth Novak Milliken: It started in 1985, Tony Soter started to take us down a path that we really couldn’t have envisioned would take us where it is now. He was our founding winemaker and started making our wines in 1982. In 1985, he went to my mum and said that he really wanted to take over the farming of the vineyard. He made the suggestion of organic farming and as she trusted him a great deal, she said, “Sure, let’s give it a try!”

That was way back before people were talking about organics – we were amongst the first to farm organically here. We stuck with the organics and planted with that in mind, and never looked back.

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Around 2000, we started planting the insectaries in the vineyard to bring some biodiversity to what is obviously a mono-culture. We set up solar power at the winery in 2007 and added solar  at the estate the same year. We get a great majority of our power from solar, and that which we don’t get from solar is from renewables. Then in May 2019, we came up with our core purpose statement, and all of a sudden everything accelerated.

vineyards

The Spottswoode vineyards

LUX: What are your aims and dreams?
Beth Novak Milliken: We want to inspire others. I’ve been looking to Yvon Chouinard, the Founder of Patagonia (he is truly my hero), what he has done and how he has pushed for environmental causes in such an amazing way. We joined 1% for the Planet in 2007 and since then we’ve given a minimum of 1% of gross revenue every year to environmental causes that we believe in (it’s usually more than one percent) and it’s a remarkable; you start to feel like your business is something greater than just yourself.

I am the second generation of what will, hopefully, be a long-term multi-generational family business and our biggest threat to continued success is climate change because we are agriculturally based and that really brings it home. In ’17, ’18, ’19 and ’20, we had the highest heats we’ve ever had. We had 117° F (47 C) one day – that’s desert heat!

We have had historic fires that just seem to keep coming, and it is a consequence of climate change. It is is hotter, drier, warmer, windier, and a lot more variable. It’s a remarkable time, and we feel like we really need to act to inspire others.

Read more: A glamorous escape to the Lanesborough

LUX: Was there ever a choice, long-term, between quality of wine and sustainability, or sustainability versus keeping the business going?
Beth Milliken: Never. The two are completely compatible.

LUX: Tell us more about the B-Corp certification and why you decided on it?
Beth Novak Milliken: B-Corp is the gold standard for a business that operates for good, that operates because it cares about its community, the planet, its employees, everything really. It’s how we’ve been operating anyway, so this was really just taking that and putting a certification on it.

It’s a very rigorous process. There are many questions about how you treat your natural environment and how you treat your employees, everything from pay to wellbeing. We feed people here everyday, we always have, and it’s always organic food. We’re minimising waste, and taking care of our community.

LUX: In terms of the sustainability side, what’s next? As a wine-producer, what must you do?
Beth Novak Milliken: We are applicant members of International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA). We are going to be LEED-certified on this entire property, and we’re working on our zero-waste platinum certification.

four wine bottles

A selection of Spottswoode wines

A tasting of a historical collection of Spottswoode wines, hosted by Beth Milliken over Zoom

Tasting notes by Darius Sanai

Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon 1985

Wow! The greatest aged Napa Cabernets have a unique character, completely distinct either from what they tasted like in their youth, or from aged Bordeaux made from similar grape varieties. On opening, this had a port/cognac “rancio” layer to it; after a few minutes, that diffused and we were left with this lifted, almost light, but nevertheless deep, earthy, woodland soil filled wine with a core of steely dark fruits. If I had blind tasted it I would have guessed it was a Grand Cru Chambertin from Burgundy – not a Cabernet Sauvignon. Amazing stuff and proof too much Napa wine is drunk too young.

Pair with: Cep mushrooms on plain polenta, while sitting on a mountainside in the Alto Adige in northeast Italy while having a chance meeting with someone you broke up with many years ago and are still in love with. Don’t ask why, just do.

Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon 1996

This is a wine to serve to the kind of narrow-minded snob who says all California wines are obvious, fruity and easy. It is as iron-clad as any Pauillac from 1996 (Pichon Lalande springs to mind), behind the curtain of tannin is an array of subtle savouriness. No fruit bombs here. One that will develop even more.

Pair with: Dinner with a client who proclaims only to like old-fashioned Bordeaux, at their house in Schwabing. Serve it blind and prepare to be amused.

Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon 2006

Roasting coffee! Almonds! Thistles! This is a wine with massive presence and subtlety, simultaneously. There’s some creamy fruit in there also but it’s at the back and very restrained, like smelling it in its packet rather than eating it. It’s 15 years old and needs another 15 years. But it’s very balanced.

Pair with: This one needs a muscular bavette or skirt steak, with apologies to our vegan readers; ideally at a steakhouse in New York City, with the guys at the next table hollering about the game or some deal they made or a girl.

Spottswoode Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

After concluding that the 1996 and 2006 are possibly too young to drink now, what about the 2018, from a stellar vintage? Ironically the 2018 is delicious, creamy-rich with bluecurrant (not a thing but that’s what it tastes like) and branchy tannins balancing themselves out on a see-saw on your tongue. Irresistible.

Pair with: Share with your closest friends at dinner by the shore of Lake Geneva in summer, over some aged Comte cheese and maybe very old Mimolette.

Find out more: spottswoode.com

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Reading time: 5 min
mother and daughter in vineyard
mother and daughter in vineyard

Amélie Buecher, winemaker at Vignoble des 2 Lunes

LUX tries an at-home wine tasting experience with VIVANT, and discovers a group of women who are committed to producing and promoting organic wine

After a tiresome year of Zoom meetings, virtual exhibitions and product launches, it’s difficult to get properly excited by the idea of another digital platform, even if there is the alluring promise of real wine to drink at home, but – and bear with us here – VIVANT is actually doing something a little bit different.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Launched by American entrepreneur and investor Michael Baum, VIVANT is a super slick, ultra modern online market place/educational centre/streaming service for wine enthusiasts who not only want to drink great wine, but also learn about it from expert advisors and producers through interactive wine experiences and beautifully curated content.

wine tasting test tubes

VIVANT’s ‘Women in Wine’ tasting kit

There’s a wide selection of experiences to choose from, divided into categories such as ‘Food & Wine’ or ‘For Serious Wine Geeks’ with varying difficulties depending on your existing wine knowledge. We were invited to experience the ‘Women in Wine’ tasting event and about a week before kick-off (the events happen in real time), a beautiful, white box arrived by courier, containing six 100ml test tubes of wine along with the login details for the platform.

Eventually the evening rolled around, we logged onto the site, and the event began promptly at 6pm with the virtual appearance of our wine advisor Kateryna Dobbert. The format was impressively futuristic, resembling a kind of spaceship control panel with Kateryna talking in the centre of the screen and a message board running down the side where participants could enter questions, comments and ‘cheers’ other members by pressing a wine glass icon. Yes, it’s a bit cheesy, but it got more fun after a few (or several) sips of wine, and we realised that we could earn points through our interactions which contributed to our VIVANT level (although we’re still not entirely sure what that level equates to beyond self-satisfaction).

Read more: Olivier Krug on champagne and music

The experience was divided into a series of videos in which the producers of each wine talked about their processes and some of the challenges they faced as women in a traditionally male-dominated industry after which Kateryna guided us through a tasting with a few follow up quiz questions to test our knowledge. It was well-focused and fast-moving, with the whole experience lasting around forty minutes, but it could have been comfortably stretched out over an hour as we occasionally felt rushed through the tasting parts.

The wines themselves were excitingly varied and after the experience ended, the platform handily saved the corresponding bottles to our profile, avoiding the hassle of having to note down the names of our favourites.

women winemaker

Coralie Delecheneau, winemaker at Domaine La Grange Tiphaine

While our experience highlighted women in the wine industry, VIVANT is centred around promoting and supporting sustainable producers and organic wines. Each of their winemakers is required to sign the VIVANT environmental pledge, which, amongst other things, promises that no synthetic chemicals or additives will be used in the vineyards or wine making processes. The general idea is to create a global community of producers and consumers who are committed to making more environmentally-conscious choices and although the future remains to be seen, it feels like a good start.

Find out more: vivant.eco

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Reading time: 2 min
man throwing champagne botle
Man holding two glasses of champagne

Olivier Krug. Image by Jenny Zarins

Olivier Krug, sixth generation director of the Krug champagne house, sits down for a tasting with a musical difference with LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai

Olivier Krug is smiling on a Zoom screen, standing behind a row of bottles in his office in Reims, Champagne. He has just been speaking about his family’s long-standing passion for music, which he has recently combined with the day job, making some of the world’s most celebrated champagnes at the eponymous Krug champagne house, in an initiative called Krug Echoes.

For Krug Echoes, the champagne house, now owned by luxury behemoth LVMH, has commissioned a series of musicians to create music to match its different, sublime champagnes.

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Olivier says the idea was inspired by an executive at the company who went to a tasting of gourmet chocolate. Each different chocolate was accompanied by a different piece of music, and while they tasted very different, at the end it was revealed that the tasters had been eating the same chocolate each time: the music had triggered such different emotions that the participants’ perception of taste had altered for each.

The science of how emotion and mood, catalysed by music, affects taste is real but in its infancy: meanwhile Olivier Krug has stolen a march on it with the Krug Echoes initiative.

Below, Olivier explains his family’s long association with music; underneath which LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai, who tasted the champagnes and experienced the music over Zoom with Olivier Krug, gives his tasting notes.

man juggling champagne

Image by Jenny Zarins

“When I joined Krug 30 years ago I sat in front my dad, and I was expecting to have the 9 AM legendary glass of Krug that people get when they join the company. I did get it, and then I was expecting my dad to start a very technical explanation of this job. He said, “You know, Olivier, my job is very similar to the role of a conductor.”

I said, “What conductor dad, are you playing music, or making champagne?”

He said, “I am creating champagne, but my job is very similar to the role of the conductor,” and I said “Why?” and he said, “My job, my mission, every year is to recreate a music that was invented by Joseph Krug, your great-great-great grandfather, in the 1840s. He wanted to create a type of champagne, and type of music, that did not exist. A champagne that would not rely on waiting for a good generation of musicians, but would offer the fullest music of champagne every single year.”

Read more: Parisian jewellers GOOSSENS opens its first London boutique

Great champagnes rely on great years, this is why most of the great champagnes have a vintage, there is a stamp on the label telling you: “This comes from 2002, therefore, it is good.” You know nothing about the story of 2002, but you trust it is the better champagne. But we do not have a good year every year, and so in other years you have to deal with a quality which is more uneven.

That was not satisfying at all for my great-great-great grandfather, who had already spent, as a young German immigrant, ten years in a big champagne house, and despite the fact he had a good job, despite the fact he was married to someone from the family, and despite the fact he was 42 years old (which was old in the 1840s), he decided to leave to create his dream: a champagne that would offer, every year, the fullest expression, the fullest music of champagne.

man holding family portrait

Olivier Krug with a portrait of his great-great-great grandfather Joseph Krug. Image by Jenny Zarins

So how can you do that? Of course, every year is different. You have good years and less good years. Sometimes, you have two or three good years in a row, and despite the fact they are good they don’t look the same at all. It’s the same as when you take the top 20 musicians of the five best music schools in the country; you will have a year when you have 18 violins, but the following year the generation of violinists will be very poor, and instead, you will have drummers and flautists.

But for me, as a conductor, I want to be in a position, every year, to sit in my orchestra and see all these instruments. I want them to be individually, if not the best, then the purest, the most intense character in their field. If I have to wait every year to have a good generation of musicians, I will have a year led by violin, and the next year will be led by other instruments and the following year will be forgotten, because no one is good enough alone on stage.

Read more: Tiqui Atencio on the value of collecting art

But if I could put myself in a position to put aside the extra musicians that I have, the year where they will not be offered to me, I will able to call them back, and ask them back into the orchestra. For example, the year where I have 18 violinists, I don’t need 18 violins in my orchestra, I only need six or eight or four so I will call the lead violin, and I will ask the other one to be a spare, and probably next year, I will call back one or two or three of them, and ask them to play in the orchestra, because the next year will not be about violins.

So every year, whatever the quality of the year, I will be in a position to find the musicians that I need to play everything. And the example of this is Krug Grande Cuvée, this is the music analogy that my dad made at the beginning.

Music has always been strongly present in my family. At the beginning of the 20th century, my great grandfather had a Salle Domestique, a room which was entirely dedicated to his friends or family members who were playing an instrument, and since that room is next to the cellar, I believe that the good people were deserving of a good glass of champagne at the end of the recital, or even before, who knows. We’ve always been very used to music.”

The Krug Echoes Tasting with Olivier Krug

Tasting notes by Darius Sanai

Krug Clos du Mesnil 2006

This is a blanc de blancs champagne (100% chardonnay) but it has as much in common with a common-or-garden blanc de blancs as a Dior couture gown has with a fast fashion frock. There are so many layers to this, like a gastronomic experience in a glass: it combines a streak of freshness with a deep cluster of honeyed buttered croissant and the aroma of cycling through Fontainebleau forest in October, with a drop of Sorrento lemon. It’s fashionable to liken complex Chardonnay-based champagnes to aged white Burgundy wine but this is something else entirely, even more complex.

I first had the Clos du Mesnil while sitting in the Clos du Mesnil smoking a Partagas D4 in the early 2000s and this is the perfect Havana cigar champagne; perhaps to be accompanied by some agnelotti al tartufo with a little taleggio. Mixing cultures, why not.

Krug Echoes music match  Krug Clos du Mesnil 2006 by Ozark Henry – Meteor’s path

Krug 2006

Highly concentrated, tightly packed, layer on layer of flavours and richesse. The Krug house wasn’t (quite) around when Louis XIV had his audiences at Versailles but this is the kind of champagne I can imagine being served to the Sun King while he feasted on partridge, his audience watching on. Chamber music would work nicely, although the Krug Echoes choice is more original.

Krug Echoes music match: Krug 2006 by Kris Bowers

Krug Grande Cuvée 162ème Edition

Grande Cuvée is the orchestral composition Olivier was referring to in his fascinating musical history of the family. For me, if it were a symphony, it would be Beethoven’s Ninth, or perhaps a Mahler. It has drama, different levels of notes, and it is endless – in the best possible way. This is a champagne you keep tasting even after you have finished it. The Krug Echoes music choice is far more digestible than a Mahler symphony, of course.

Krug Echoes music match: Krug Grande Cuvée 162ème Edition by Ozark Henry

The champagnes for this tasting were provided to LUX by Krug: krug.com/playlist/krug-echoes

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Reading time: 7 min
jewellery boutiqe
jewellery boutiqe

Goossens’ flagship London boutique in Mayfair

Parisian couture jewellery house GOOSSENS opens the doors to its first London boutique in Burlington Gardens, Mayfair

French jeweller Robert Goossens founded his eponymous brand in 1950 and is known for making jewellery and decorative objects for some of the most renowned designers of the last century, including Coco Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent and Cristóbal Balenciaga.

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While the core aesthetic has stayed consistent since its inception, with a focus on tactile, handmade pieces, which combine metal with precious stones, the opening of the first GOOSSENS boutique in London marks a new chapter in the brand’s history under the leadership of Robert Goossens’ son Patrick (Director of GOOSSENS’ Heritage and Know-How) and as part of Chanel (the fashion house bought the brand in 2005).

jewellery display

The store itself is reminiscent of an art gallery with its white walls and minimal furnishings emphasising the bold beauty of the objects on display. Visitors can discover iconic heritage designs alongside new collections and six unique interior design pieces including two mirrors, a couture chandelier made in collaboration with interior designer Anne-Sophie Pailleret, and two wall lights.

The GOOSSENS boutique opens on 12 April 2021 at 3 Burlington Gardens, Mayfair, London W1S 3EP. For more information, visit: goossens-paris.com

 

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man with handbags and watches
man with handbags and watches

Founder of Xupes, Joe McKenzie

Joe McKenzie and his father Frank founded Xupes in 2009, selling a handful of pre-owned Cartier watches from their home in Bishop’s Stortford. The company now sells a curated collection of vintage handbags, jewellery, art and design pieces alongside refurbished luxury timepieces. Here, he speaks to Candice Tucker about sustainable luxury, the rise of the digital marketplace and future collectibles

1. What inspired you to enter the pre-owned luxury retail industry?

I’ve always been interested in and participated in the circular economy. When I was 13, I was buying and selling clothes on eBay. I’ve always had an appreciation for nice things (but couldn’t afford them!) with an interest in engineering. Buying pre-owned gave me the ability to own and enjoy nice clothes for a few months and then, often sell them for double what I paid. When I was 15, I taught myself to repair airsoft gearboxes. Airsoft was an increasingly popular sport at the time and I imported parts from China to offer one of the first repair services in the UK. This was my first proper job that gave me the ability to save up some money. My parents have always taught me the importance of independence and I guess my entrepreneurship started from a young age inspired by my father and grandfather who both ran their own successful businesses.

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The mechanics of watches always fascinated me (my great grandfather was a clock maker) and when I was lucky enough to be gifted one, I became immersed in the world of horology. With the knowledge and experience of buying and selling on eBay, I saw an opportunity to redefine a market that was growing and where others were not offering service or quality. I thought to myself: why shouldn’t the experience of buying a second hand (or pre-owned as we call it) luxury watch be the same or better than buying one new? This is how the idea of Xupes began, in my bedroom at university, and I set out to redefine the perception of buying a luxury pre-owned item. I was completing a degree in photography at the time, and I used this experience to focus on creating a brand that could become a leader in the sector.

watches

A selection of pre-owned luxury watches from the Xupes collection

2. Why are vintage watches becoming ever more popular at a time when everyone has a phone that tells the time and also a smart watch?

This is a topic which has been widely discussed. At first, people thought the smart watch would have a significant impact on the luxury watch market. But customers who own a luxury watch appreciate it for many other reasons beyond convenience. Smart watches provide a service and the technology that helps us streamline our lives day to day. A luxury or vintage watch is a work of art, something with history that tells a story and is an extension of our personality, that one day might be passed on to loved ones. They also can appreciate so have become collectable and in today’s world and alternative asset class. Often, for these reasons our customers have both for these very different purposes.

3. Have any watch brands become noticeably more popular since the pandemic?

The pandemic has had one major impact to our sector: it has accelerated a shift towards digital/online channels versus the high street, a shift that was happening already, but is now probably 5 years ahead of where it would have been had the pandemic not happened. At the start of the pandemic this created a rush of brands struggling to re-organise their businesses to be able to sell online, but it is only now, 12 months on, that many of them have managed to set this up properly whilst others are still developing their operations to cope with this change. I also think consumers are more conscious of the impact their purchasing is having on the planet, bringing a wave a focus on more sustainable luxury, within which the circular economy will play a huge part in years to come.

Read more: Uplifting new paintings by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

This has all meant we’ve seen considerable demand grow across our most popular brands, which people couldn’t easily buy during the pandemic. Examples are Rolex, AP and Patek Philippe, but we’ve seen a new demand in vintage across these brands as well as Cartier, Omega, IWC, and Jaeger-Le- Coultre as customers start to diversify and deepen their interests and collections. Some of the more niche independent brands have also increased in their desirability such as FP Journe, George Daniels, Philippe Dufour, Laurent Ferrier and Moser & Cie. My personal belief is that next year will also be big for the Audemars Piguet Royal Oak as it is the model’s 50th Anniversary. I expect prices for vintage Royal Oak’s to increase significantly. Prices in the past 12 months have risen across the pre-owned sector in varying amounts driven by this shortage of supply.

4. What is the decision process when deciding which brands you choose to sell?

We created Xupes through interest and passion for what we do. Our whole service is built around experience and taking time to educate and often learn from our customers. We apply this to the collection we offer and only purchase around 5% of what we are offered. This is because we’re selective about quality, provenance and also the brands and models we select. We believe our collection of watches is one of the best in the industry. Whilst we want our customers to have the right variety, we won’t sell anything and everything and 75% of our inventory is focused across five key brands.

002_Daytona-Stainless-Steel-Gents-6239

A pre-owned Rolex Daytona Stainless Steel watch

5. Is there a clear demographic of the people buying pre-owned watches?

The demographic where we see the largest portion of our customers is 35-50 and 75% male as you might expect. The watches we sell are expensive items often purchased for a special occasion to commemorate a milestone in life or to celebrate a birthday or other event. It’s hard for our team to remember that people often work hard for years to treat themselves to a luxury watch. So many of our customers are professionals from a variety of walks of life. It’s important to add however we have seen an increase in our female customer base; one of our best customers is a female watch collector with over 150 watches in her collection. And we’ve also seen a shift new 20–35-year-old customers buying their first watch with a view to investment, something they can also trade up through our part exchange service.

6. Which contemporary watch brands do you envisage being future collectibles?

We’ve seen Richard Mille sustain huge growth in residual values in the pre-owned market over the past three years. Twelve months ago, we discussed whether this could and would continue, and whether it could be a fad and go out of fashion, but the demand and prices remain strong, and Richard Mille has done well to maintain demand. I believe some of the independent brands could become hugely coveted in the future as the watch market continues to grow. We’ve seen this with FP Journe and Laurent Ferrier as I mentioned as many pieces are made in such small volumes versus say Rolex or even Patek Philippe. We also witnessed the recent discontinuation of the Nautilus 5711 which saw prices spike by 25% in 24 hours in a market where this watch already commanded nearly 3 times premium on the retail price. Lange & Sohne’s release of the Odysseus was another example of a leading brand bringing out a steel “sports” watch which now commands a large premium. Rolex sports watches are always a safe investment and will have future collectability.

Find out more: xupes.com

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man in vineyard
man in vineyard

Lamberto Frescobaldi is the president of Marchesi de’ Frescobaldi

Lamberto Frescobaldi is the 30th generation (yes, you read that right) head of Florence’s Frescobaldi dynasty which has done everything from build bridges and palaces in Tuscany to create one of the world’s most epic wine groups. In the first of a new series on leaders in the wine world, the owner of Masseto, Luce, Ornellaia and many other wines chats to LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai over a tasting of the Frescobaldi’s flagship Luce wines

Lamberto Frescobaldi:

“Frescobaldi is a family that goes back to 1000 when they showed up in Tuscany, and then arrived in Florence around 1100, so from a little village out of Florence to Florence. Then a gentleman called, like me, Lamberto, in 1252, built the bridge where now is Ponte Santa Trinita, there is a little square called Piazza de’ Frescobaldi, for the bridge that he built there and he owned all the houses there.

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He comes up quite strongly under the light of Florence in that century. Then the Frescobaldi, began to do as many families of Florence did, they became bankers. Because in those days one of the things that was complicated was to ship money. Money was risky, has always been risky, and so funnily enough the first cheque ever invented was here in Florence by Francesco Datini, he invented the cheque, it was a revolution. Think of taking a piece of paper and writing a value! It was a total revolution.

vineyard estate

The Luce wine estate in Montalcino, Tuscany

And then they understand that it is important to move the paper, but not to move the money. So, the money was here and there. Then the Frescobaldi, around the 14th Century, they actually become important bankers through Europe. It was the aristocratic families of Europe, they were always fighting between each other. The Frescobaldi became bankers of the families of England. They actually moved to England, and they became very powerful because they were bankers of the king. And the king actually gave them the run, in Devonshire, of the silver mines. Then they became too famous and too powerful and then the king, I can’t remember which one, but he kicked them out of England. Then they came back to Florence, and from bankers they became farmers.

Read more: Durjoy Rahman on promoting South Asian art

wine cellars

Inside the Tenuta Luce cellars

So, long story short, I believe that my family have always been very forward-looking and innovative. And that is reflected in what happened with me and the Mondavi family (the legendary wine family of California, who have Italian origins). Around the mid 90s they show up in Italy, and they wanted to do something in Italy. They had moved from Italy 1908, and they went to America because Italy was a tough country in those days. And here they wanted to come back, and we got together, and there was again a beautiful relationship. This changed my way of doing my job, Mondavi opening up a window, a window opened giving me the opportunity to taste wines everywhere around the world. Sharing fears and also the beauty of producing a wine together. And now it is the 25th anniversary of Luce, the wine we created together.”

wine bottles

The Luce wine library

There follows a tasting of Luce wines, with Darius Sanai’s notes below each:

Luce 2013

A big, powerful, rich wine but also fresh and light, a remarkable combination. Plenty of fruit, plenty of tannin. I would drink this in five years with a pici al cingiale (thick Tuscan pasta with a wild boar ragu) on the terrace of the Villa San Michele above Florence at sunset.

wine bottle

Luce 2017

Luce 2006

Less power, more softness, an almost gentle wine but with a long backdrop of olive groves, fading into the olfactory distance. One to drink while perched on the old city wall of Montalcino, looking over the Colline Metallifere hills towards the sea hidden beyond, and across the endless forest.

Luce 2002

An almost gentle red wine, belying the Tuscan reputation for producing big reds. Yet there’s a persistence of dried berry, vanilla, and the kinds of herbs you sprinkle on pizzas that make it very moreish. A lunchtime wine, on the Piazza del Campo in Siena, looking at the people wandering past as another day disappears.

Luce 1998

Wow. You wouldn’t believe this wine is older than this millennium. Both powerful and zingy, it has a different character to the others, fascinating to see what can happen as great red wines age. Peppers, cherries, and also a waft of Bistecca alla Fiorentina, beautifully balanced. One to drink over dinner, in late autumn, in your Florentine palace, with your loved one; and like the Frescobaldis, I think this wine will last forever.

Thank you to Lamberto Frescobaldi for his time and the wines for this tasting.

For more information, visit: en.lucedellevite.com

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Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante
Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante

Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante

In the final part of our supercar review series, LUX takes the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante for a test drive

What is a sports car? In an era of AI and soon-to-be self-driving cars, the idea of driving as a sport is an anachronism. Everything from power steering to radar-controlled cruise control mean the elements of activity and chance in driving are being eroded. If ‘sports’ is a measure of speed, the fact that even the most anodyne of fully electric cars can accelerate as fast as many traditional sports cars only adds to the question.

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One answer comes in the form of the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante. Volante in Aston terms means convertible, and while this car has many modern accoutrements as a price tag of several hundred thousand pounds/dollars/euros would suggest, it is very much old school in that it is aimed at the pleasure of the driver and passenger, and not as an implement.

The Superleggera is powered by a 715hp V12 twin-turbo engine, which means that it has to be a monster. It is a striking-looking car and the carbon-fibre finishing on the exterior adds to the air of menace and poise. Roof down around town, it attracts a lot of looks, of admiration rather than hostility. This is a cultured car, and it makes a cultured noise. Unlike almost any other car with this power, it is also pleasurable to drive around town. Give a car more than 700hp and the ability to accelerate from 0 to 60 in the blink of an eye, and you often have something that is a bit of a pain to drive unless you are pressing on through an empty, fast road.

The Superleggera has a traditional automatic gearbox, rather than a F1-style manual gear shift (you shift gears with your hands on the paddles), meaning you can just stick it in D like a family school-run car and pootle around town quite happily. It rides firmly but doesn’t shake your brain out through your ears like some cars with extreme power specifications, and its medium-weighted steering makes it easy to manoeuvre. Roof down, you can see all parts of the car for parking – it’s a different story with the roof shut.

It’s the same with the accommodation. On a series of sunny summer days, we managed to cram four full-sized adults into the car for a two to three-hour journey each day. This is not what the car is made for: what you really want is to put the front seats back and drop your Bottega Veneta shopping bags in the rear. Still, when pressed, this supercar really can carry four adults, and some bags squashed in the boot.

Read more: LUX Loves: Richard Mille’s collaboration with Benjamin Millepied & Thomas Roussel

Conversely, the driver and front-seat passenger enjoy a wonderful experience. This is a car that can cruise at extremely illegal speeds, enjoyably and safely without too much breeze in the front. Some cars in this category excel at the racetrack, others are more aimed at high-speed comfort. The Aston is squarely in the middle, and actually succeeds in this difficult task rather well. Mashing the accelerator produces laugh-out-loud thrust all the way into those illegal speeds and beyond. Meanwhile it is a delight to steer through a series of fast, smooth bends.

Convertible car

Interior of the Aston Martin DBS Superleggera Volante

It also means that it is not as exciting or capable on tight roads as a full-on supercar; the Aston is heavy and will lose composure if pushed through the gears on a bumpy, sharp corner. Nor is it a calm, quiet cruiser, and the cabin does not have the luxury finish of its competitors. More nicely finished air vents and a detail in front of the passenger (perhaps a Superleggera logo, as appears on the bonnet), along with some more exclusive-looking leather on the dashboard, would make all the difference in what is after all a low production-volume car.

Other elements, though, are unique: the bellowing thrust from the V12, the steering that is calm and talkative; and the feel-good factor of piloting a car that requires effort. It is great fun to drive, and has a feeling of cultured Britishness. It’s very much at one with the company’s history as a supplier of cars to James Bond.

In fact, we can’t think of a better car for James or Jane Bond to be driving down the Grande Corniche while chasing a master criminal in a Tesla that runs out of electricity. Before turning up for an evening of fun and frolic at the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat with his or her gender-neutral companion for the night. Expensive, but a perfect sports car for the times.

LUX Rating: 18.5/20

Find out more: astonmartin.com

This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue.

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Orange Car
Orange convertible car

Bentley Continental GT V8 Convertible

In the third part of our supercar review series, LUX gets behind the wheel of the Bentley Continental GT V8 Convertible

Certain cars have visual drama. Other cars loom. Others still are artistic. The new Bentley Continental GT V8 has presence.

It’s a hard thing to do well in a car, presence. Any large car is literally more present than any small car, and the Bentley is on the large side for a car that doesn’t accommodate more than one large suitcase in its boot, But, recently re-designed, the Continental has a svelte way of going down the road, with a rather beautiful front, and balance in its looks. It is not imposing like a Rolls, its presence implies elegance.

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This is a powerful, fast convertible that actually has proper room in the back for a pair of adults. It’s true that four adults, seated in the car and travelling in refinement at high speed accompanied by the mellifluous howl from the V8 engine would need to send all but their hand luggage ahead of them, as the boot could only accommodate some squishy Vuitton bags.

Inside Bentley Convertible

But that’s fine, because the Bentley is a car for being there and enjoying it, rather than getting there, as the name implies. Unless getting there involved a hypothetical world of traffic-free open roads with no speed limits and sinuous curves up mountain passes devoid of caravans and coaches. In which case, the Continental would be enormous fun. The engine has huge reserves of power from low down and makes a great noise as it punches forward. Perhaps it doesn’t have the bite of its 12-cylinder, bigger engined sibling, but you would only really notice if you were having a race. In the past, Bentleys tended to be bruisers of cars – capable and powerful, but not delicate, and sometimes rather awkward when pushed.

Read more: Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem on championing artists

This car will canter at high speed through tight corners which would have left its predecessors losing grip. It’s also enjoyable to drive at low speeds, roof down, enjoying the scenery outside and the absolutely stunning detail of the interior. As cars have become luxury brands more than simply driving implements, the beauty of the finish in this car’s interior is what sets it apart from cheaper competitors that can match it on performance (think Tesla).

That, and its presence. Essential owning, if you have a home in St-Tropez or the Hamptons.

LUX Rating: 19/20

Find out more: bentleymotors.com

This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue. 

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yellow sportscar

Lamborghini Huracán EVO RWD

In the second part of our supercar series, LUX drives the new and improved Lamborghini Huracán EVO RWD

Amid the current debate about cultural appropriation, we have a theory that many of the best things in life come from cultural mingling – which is not quite the same thing. Anyone who has visited the region of Alto Adige in northern Italy, which has been swapped between France and Austria over the centuries, will understand Italian culture and cuisine combined with Austrian efficiency creating a whole new world of design and lifestyle? Yes, please.

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We have a theory that the same thing has happened at Lamborghini. This is, on the face of it, the most extrovert and Italian of carmakers. Its logo is a raging bull, created specifically to annoy Enzo Ferrari and his prancing horse. Its cars are not only era-defining design classics (look at the 1960s Miura, which featured in The Italian Job) or the crazy 1980s Countach. They are also, traditionally, loud (visually and aurally), outrageously designed inside, have posing value beyond any other car no matter what the price, and go very fast, if you can handle them.

But this was not all good. Perhaps you wanted something with a soul of a Lamborghini, which didn’t attract a crowd of onlookers every time you drove it. And perhaps you wanted something that you would actually look forward to driving, rather than bracing yourself for a task.

The calming influence on Lamborghini’s hairy-chest nature came in the form of the Volkswagen group, which acquired the company in 1998. Lamborghinis have had a reputation for being better built, more reliable and easier to use since then. But they have also started moving towards the other extreme of becoming efficient. You might have driven the previous model Huracán across Europe, for example, with great satisfaction, but would it have stirred your loins like a previous Lamborghini? The best cultural cocktails are a perfect combination of ingredients, and an alchemy creating something else out of the whole.

Read more: Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem on the importance of championing artists

And this is where the RWD comes in. Lamborghini have taken their current Huracán EVO and taken away the drive from the front wheels, so the previously four-wheel-drive car is just two-wheel drive. They have also reduced the weight, made it more aerodynamically efficient, and, marginally, reduced the power. And they have reduced the price – although that is not likely to be very important to this market.

The reason behind this is to create a car that is not just brilliant on paper, striking to look at and efficient, but to create a car that stirs the soul. The ‘digital’ nature of some of today’s supercars is a reason why some models from 10 or 20 years ago have been going up in value. This Lamborghini is a more analogue car.

back of sportscar

The difference is evident even in the first low-speed corner. You are connected to the steering in a way you are not with its 4WD sibling. Approaching some higher speed corners once out of town, you feel a far clearer weight transfer to the back of the car and, on exiting the corner, you feel your acceleration is pushing the rear wheels out and helping you around the corner. And the steering is not interfered with by any tugging from power going to the front wheels at the same time as you are trying to steer. It sounds a little, but it means a lot. Suddenly, you are driving the car, rather than overseeing something that more or less drives itself.

The Huracán is old school in that it features a V10 engine, with no help from turbochargers or an electric motor. And given that typically these cars are driven short distances over their lifetimes, it will probably emit less CO2 than the average family car. Which is not to say that cars like these save the planet any more than they are not guilty of sacrificing it either.

Lecture over, on to the all-important Lamborghini feature of looks. Ours came in a spiffing shade of matt purple. It garnered stares from bystanders rather than a crowd of them like some Lambo models. If it’s attention you crave, better get an Aventador, this car’s big sister. If it’s driving pleasure, buy one of these.

It gets one of the highest ratings of any car we have ever tested. And if it had even more feedback to the steering, and even more dramatic looks (we like that kind of thing), it would receive a perfect 20.

LUX rating: 19.5/20

Find out more: lamborghini.com

This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue. 

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red sportscar
sportscar

Ferrari 812 Superfast

In the first of our supercar review series, LUX enjoys an exhilarating drive in the Ferrari 812 Superfast

Ferrari is regularly voted the world’s most powerful luxury brand, and yet curiously there is some discrepancy in consumers’ perception of the company’s products. Mention Ferrari to most people, and they will think of a loud, exciting, flashy high-powered car. Something extroverted, stylish.

Getting into more detail, participants in your own personal luxury brand survey, depending on their age, might describe a car with two seats, an engine behind the driver, above the back wheels, in open view. Like the Testarossa in Miami Vice, or for an older generation, the 308 in Magnum P.I.

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In reality, Ferrari’s flagship product has for the past two decades been something slightly different. Since the introduction of the 550 Maranello in 1997, the most expensive regular production Ferrari you can buy (as opposed to the limited edition special additions open to gazillionaires with contacts only) has been a two-door, long-nosed car with the engine in the front, far more conventional than perception would have it.

These were a continuation of the original front-engined Ferraris from the 1950s and 60s. But the visual quietness of the new flagship 550 in 1997 also coincided with an and sophistication of experience that is perhaps at odds with most people’s perceptions. The 550 and its successor the 575 would pass down any street without turning heads. They were intended to be driveable every day, not show pieces for show-offs.

And while their successors, the 599 of 2006 and F12 of 2012, turned up the dial in terms of performance, the flagship Ferrari was still not a show-off ’s car. The F12 in particular was a conundrum. Here was a car with 730hp, two seats and the ability to handle that power around the toughest of racetracks. Yet on the road, it was curiously refined.

front seats of sportscar

So, when Ferrari announced an updated and upgraded version of the F12 called the 812 Superfast, one might have expected even more of the same. But, for the first time since the F512 M of 1994, which was the ultimate incarnation of the legendary 80s Testarossa, here was a flagship Ferrari that looks like it really wants to be noticed. The 812 is not exactly beautiful, but it is extremely striking in the intent that its engineering and aerodynamics give it.

And the driving experience is also transformed. It has more power from a bigger engine, shorter gearing, rear-wheel steering, and an even faster and more sophisticated paddle-shift gearbox. However, none of these guarantees a more exciting driving experience – just a fast one.

Read more: Why The Alpina Gstaad is top of our travel wish list

From the moment you aim the Superfast around its first corner, you realise that something is up. The steering is sharp, the whole car feels alive and wanting to communicate to you. The faster you go, the livelier and more delicate it feels, and more exciting. Drive the F12 or the 599 down a good road at 70mph and the car shrugs its shoulders: “This is slow, boring, I can do three times the speed”.

The miracle of the 812 is that it is even faster yet feels more involving by a factor of five. At higher speeds it feels delicate, like a dancer, you can control it with two fingers on the wheel while feathering the accelerator pedal.

The star of the show is the engine. Ferrari, like the rest of us, knows that the days of the internal combustion engine are strictly numbered. So, it is a kind of act of brilliant defiance to create this 800hp, 6.5 litre V12. You don’t even have to move to appreciate it. With the engine warm, and gears in neutral, give the accelerator a tap with your right foot. Revs shoot up to 6,000 with a “VLAAP” noise straight out of a Formula One car, and down again instantly.

The interior, meanwhile, is a masterpiece of modern Italian design, minimal yet beautifully put together with Alcantara, carbon fibre, curves and angles.

Is there a downside? In a car-seat set up uncompromisingly for excitement rather than cruise and use, the ride will inevitably suffer and it does in the 812. This would be a tiring car to drive on a long trip; it is no grand tourer at all. It is, simply, a supercar.

We knew the 812 Superfast would live up to its name in being the fastest regular production Ferrari ever made. What we didn’t know was that it would be the most fun as well. Bravo.

LUX Rating: 19.5/20

Find out more: ferrari.com

This article originally appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2020/2021 Issue. 

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dancers
dancers in the desert

Still from Within, directed and choreographed by Benjamin Millepied with music by Thomas Roussel. Photograph by Melissa Roldan

To celebrate the launch of their latest timepiece, Richard Mille invited choreographer Benjamin Millepied and composer Thomas Roussel to create a short film incorporating original dance and music. Here, Abigail Hodges takes a closer look at the performance and watch design
silver watch

RM72-01

The Richard Mille 72-01 Lifestyle In-House Chronograph is the brand’s first flyback chronograph made entirely in-house, and through its design it aims to weave together tradition and modernity – a concept which is also at the heart of WITHIN, a short film created by Benjamin Millepied and Thomas Roussel, set in the desert landscape of southern California.

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The film brings together the physical wonder of a ballet performance and the powerful sound of orchestral music to celebrate the precise art of watchmaking and Richard Mille’s bold, contemporary design aesthetic.

dancer in the desert

dancers

Both images: stills from Within. Photography by Melissa Roldan

While Millepied’s choreography – performed by two dancers – reflects how classical structure and form may be artistically reinvented, Thomas Roussel’s composition blends orchestral and electronic elements to create a dramatic, vibrant soundtrack which was performed by the 50 musicians of the London Symphony Orchestra and recorded at St. Luke’s Church in London.

Read more: Philanthropist Keith Breslauer on combining business & charity

The watch itself aligns with Richard Mille’s avant-garde approach to time-keeping and design (the watch face, for example, features only the numbers three, eight and eleven), but it is also one of the brand’s subtler and more elegant models. Worn on the wrists of both dancers in the film, it pairs perfectly with their formal costumes and the stark, dramatic landscape.

Watch the film below:

For more information visit: richardmille.com

 

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Reading time: 1 min
winery at sunset
winery at sunset

The vineyards of Château Mouton Rothschild. Photo © Studio Goodday. Courtesy Château Mouton Rothschild

This morning, Château Mouton Rothschild revealed its latest artistic collaboration with Xu Bing. We take a closer look at the Chinese artist’s label design for the 2018 vintage

Since 1945, Château Mouton Rothschild has invited an artist to design a label for its latest vintage. The collection of miniature artworks, which are transferred onto the wine bottles and also exhibited in a special gallery in the château, features some of the most famous artists from the past 100 years including the likes of Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter and now, Xu Bing.

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One of China’s most renowned artists, Xu Bing is best known for his installations which often explore the relationship between image and language. His artwork for the 2018 vintage label is a continuation of his ‘square word calligraphy’ series which originally involved the artist organising English letters into structures that resembled Chinese characters. The idea was to break down cultural barriers by demonstrating the similarity of components in both languages and therefore, demystify the Chinese written language for non-Chinese speakers.

label artwork

Xu Bing’s label continues his ‘square word calligraphy’ series

For this artwork, the pair of elegant, stacked symbols once again appear to be an example of traditional Chinese calligraphy, but the characters are, in fact, composed of the Latin alphabet and denote “Mouton Rothschild”. 

Read more: Fashion entrepreneur Wendy Yu on creativity and charity

wine label

Château Mouton Rothschild’s 2018 vintage with label design by Xu Bing. Photo © Studio Goodday. Courtesy Château Mouton Rothschild.

The design’s inspiration comes from the layered experience of tasting wine, each character reveals itself as the reader engages more deeply with the image, but also with the idea of history, symbolism and reinvention. By reimagining the literary shape of the iconic winery, Bing symbolically suggests the possibility of new discovery in the old.

Discover Château Mouton Rothschild: chateau-mouton-rothschild.com

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Reading time: 1 min
portrait artwork

Jimi Hendrix, London, 1967, Gered Mankowitz

With many national lockdowns reinstated across the globe, the majority of this year’s festive shopping is  taking place online. Launching her new monthly column for LUX, artnet’s Vice President of Strategic Partnerships Sophie Neuendorf discusses the benefits of buying and gifting art remotely

Sophie Neuendorf

Nothing is more enduring or powerful than a work of art. Throughout history, it has been artists who have documented the zeitgeist, from religious convictions to frivolous fêtes or times of social unrest and upheaval. It is also always artists who push boundaries and promote an atmosphere of tolerance and peace.

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Especially now, at a time when we’re all forced to be secluded and are closing our houses and boarders, art has the power to open up a cross-cultural exchange and bring hope and light into our homes and our hearts. What’s more, art has the potential to provoke important discussions around current issues such as religion, gender, race, and politics. With the recent presidential election, and the ongoing Black Lives Matter, and Me Too movements, these topics will remain very current leading into this year’s holiday season.

For many of us, the holiday season is one of the most wonderful times of the year. 2020, however, is confronting us with unprecedented new challenges, and also an element of sadness and caution. Many of us will not be able to visit our grandparents; some of us won’t be able to travel home for the holidays; and a few of us will have suffered the loss of a family member or friend this year.

abstract art

Untitled, 1964, Sam Francis

So, the question is: how do we celebrate the holidays pandemic style? By surprising our loved ones with witty, thoughtful gifts to make them happy for months, and years to come! Thanks to online technology it has never been easier to buy and ship directly, allowing us to get into the spirit of giving without the anxiety of social distancing.

Read more: Three major art patrons and a fine art photographer are transforming London’s shopfronts into a pop-up gallery

Whilst sites such as net-a-porter.com and matchesfashion.com provide excellent browsing material, why not try something new this year and invest in an artwork? Buying art online isn’t as complicated as it might seem. Although the art market has been slowly moving online over the past few years, the coronavirus pandemic has accelerated this transition. Now, with the help of cutting-edge technologies such as AR or VR, you’re able to visualise an artwork within a room and to scale, to ensure that the piece you love is perfect for your home. You can also chat with a specialist throughout the research and bidding process.

artwork of forest

Study for Canadian Forest, Robert Longo

At artnet, for example, we offer a range of ongoing auctions which you can browse and bid at leisure from the comfort and safety of your home. From David Hockney to Richard Prince and KAWS, from Modern & Contemporary fine art to photography or abstraction, you’ll be spoilt for choice. It takes two minutes to register and then, you’re ready to go. Once you place a winning bid, your funds will be safely held by artnet in escrow until you or your loved ones receive the artwork in a perfect condition. And yes, there’s a returns policy. Now go ahead and treat yourself or someone else!

Sophie’s 5 top tips for buying art online:

1. Learn how to recognise quality and prioritise it over everything.
It’s much better to own one great artwork than five mediocre works. The beauty of bidding online is that it removes the time pressure of a live auction room. Take your time to browse, choose, and place your bid on that one piece you love.

2. Be patient and wait until a work of high quality within your budget comes up for sale. Then be prepared to act decisively and quickly. Don’t get discouraged if you miss out or end up being outbid; the next opportunity is always around the corner.

3. Study prices and the market extensively so you can spot good deals when they come up. At artnet, we have the art market’s most extensive and trusted price database, which is an excellent research tool. If you don’t have time, get advice from one of our specialists who are very happy to help, or work with a reputable advisor.

4. Take transaction costs into account prior to bidding. Buyer’s premium, shipping, insurance, taxes and duties can add significant costs to your acquisition. We can calculate all that for you at artnet.

5. Enjoy yourself. Art collecting is excellent fun!

Browse artnet’s current auctions via artnet.com/auctions

 

 

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Reading time: 4 min
luxury pen
luxury fountain pen

Montegrappa’s online configurator allows full customisation of the brand’s iconic fountain pens

Responding to the ever increasing demand for custom-designed products, Italian luxury brand Montegrappa has recently launched an online configurator which allows customers to fully personalise their hand-crafted fountain pens. Here, the brand’s CEO Giuseppe Aquila discusses the rise of a collector culture, adapting to a new generation of luxury customers and how personalisation supports the artisanal industry
Man wearing blue suit on the stairs

Giuseppe Aquila

‘As a company that has remained dedicated to handmade production, a service like the configurator is something we had always aspired to offer, but the technology and market climate simply didn’t exist until relatively recently to make such a step possible.

After spending years reorganising and refreshing our supply chain, eventually we were encouraged by the efforts of a few luxury brands to sell and offer individualised services online. From the outset, though, we knew that our offer needed to be much more than simple monogramming.’

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‘On the one hand, the generational shift in luxury is causing great upheaval. These emerging luxury customers have been nurtured on digital goods and platforms like Nike ID, so we must respond. On the other hand, people in general are much more interested in cultivating a personal style than adhering to fashion. To be different is the fashion.

Then there is the fact that acquiring truly scarce objects has become much more competitive in recent years – in almost all categories. Bespoke and custom production are avenues for collectors to expand their wish lists and secure ‘grail’ items on different terms. Collector culture is growing and diversifying – and will continue to do so.’

woman with a fountain pen

‘[Personalisation] is very welcome trend that allows artisanal industry to return to its roots. Of course, now our customer could be anywhere in the world; but in 2020, technology makes it possible to offer them a similar service to what a walk-up private client might have received in 1920. Unlike a century ago, though, production needs to be swift. This means that the modern atelier needs to be well stocked and perfectly organised.

Read more: Artist Yayoi Kusama’s designs for Veuve Clicquot celebrate joy and innovation

Personalised products also help craft businesses show their full repertoire. Many of the options found on the configurator are the result of experimentation and artisanal curiosity. Though beautiful and worthy, most would have considerably less opportunity to flourish if we were confined to offering our products within traditional distribution structures.’

fountain pen

‘The configurator is the only platform of its kind in the writing world, so it has been a been a real drawcard for our site and for Montegrappa in general. More importantly though, it has been tremendously helpful with attracting new customers: these are people whose desire to own a writing instrument is distinct from seasoned aficionados and collectors, and are interested in other paths of discovery.

Perhaps the most rewarding aspect has been the acceptance from established Montegrappisti. The configurator has been like a release valve for all their ideas – all the pens they have secretly wished to own. It has helped us make many good friends within the community, and to learn from them.’

Design your own Montegrappa pen: montegrappa.com

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pink diamond

The Spirit of the Rose pink diamond, will be auctioned by Sotheby’s on 11 November

In celebration of an upcoming sale of an ultra-rare Russian pink diamond known as The Spirit of the Rose, Sotheby’s invited fashion editor Carine Roitfeld to style a contemporary ballet performance of the Ballets Russes’ acclaimed 1911 Le Spectre de la Rose. On the eve of the auction, Sotheby’s jewellery specialist Benoit Repellin discusses the historic relationship between jewellery and dance

‘Dance is an art and I think jewellery can also be seen as a form of art. As I generally say to clients, there are three things to look at when admiring a jewel or thinking of buying one at auction: nature, art and provenance. Nature being the quality of the stone; art being the jewel and the craftsmanship involved in the cutting of a stone or the making of a piece of jewellery; and provenance being the history of the piece.

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There are several links between the different worlds of art, fashion, dance and jewellery. Between 1909 and 1929, the Ballets Russes really engaged all the disciplines and brought together artists from the different fields to work on a ballet. It was a social phenomenon, and jewellery designers attended ballet performances and took inspiration from the movements, the costumes and the decors to bring new vocabulary and motifs into jewellery.

women in changing room

three women

Carine Roitfeld (middle) with ballerinas Bianca Scudamore and Naïs Duboscq from Opera National de Paris

Charles Jacqueau, the main designer at Cartier, attended ballets, took details from the performances, inspiration from the dancers, the costumes, the colours, and translated them into amazing jewellery pieces. Van Cleef & Arpels took the motif of the ballerina and made brooches set with gemstones, in the late 1940s, and it is still one of their most popular design. I think the beauty and poetry of dance and jewellery are meant to be linked and it appeals to a lot of connoisseurs.’

rough pink diamond

The rough diamond was originally named Nijinksy after the ballet dancer. It was later renamed ‘The Spirit of the Rose’

‘The rough diamond mined in Russia in 2017 was named Nijinksy, a testimony and homage to one of the most famous Russian ballet dancer from the Ballets Russes company. The best-known performance and the one that’s most strongly associated with Valslav Nijinsky is Le Spectre de la Rose (The Spirit of the Rose), which premiered in Monte Carlo in 1911. This is the name Alrosa, the diamond company which mined and cut this exceptional, ‘fancy vivid’ purple-pink diamond, gave to the faceted stone.’

Read more: The Art of Listening with the APERIO Headphone System

‘The occurrence of pink diamonds in nature is extremely rare in any size. Only one per cent of all pink diamonds are larger than 10-carats and only four percent of all pink diamonds are graded ‘Fancy Vivid’ and display a rich, vivid colour. Having the opportunity to offer a large polished pink diamond of over 10-carats and with the richness of colour and purity of The Spirit of the Rose is, therefore, truly exceptional. The diamond’s character and immense presence is further enhanced by its oval shape. It is a truly mesmerising stone; a natural wonder, steeped in Russia’s century-long diamond tradition and cultural heritage.’

‘We’ve been wanting to work with Carine Roitfeld in some capacity at Sotheby’s for a while. A fashion icon and visionary creative, her voice was something that we wanted to bring to Sotheby’s in a way that would be disruptive and new. With this in mind, when the Spirit of the Rose came to us, we thought of Carine instantly. Not only is she half Russian, but she herself was once a dancer and her favourite ballet is in fact Le Spectre de la Rose, which was a favourite of Karl Lagerfeld’s as well. Bringing her eye and visual sensibility, we asked her to style Le Spectre de la Rose as a tribute to The Spirit of the Rose and to bring this magnificent diamond to life. It has not disappointed!’

Watch the teaser video of the ballet performance below:

The Sotheby’s live auction of ‘The Spirit of the Rose’ takes place on 11 November at 8:30 PM CET. To register and for more information visit: sothebys.com

 

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Reading time: 3 min
man listening to music with headphones
man listening to music with headphones

Warwick Acoustics’ flagship headphone system, the APERIO, promises the ultimate listening experience. Image courtesy of Warwick Acoustics

British company Warwick Acoustics has developed a reputation for innovating and producing innovative audio technology. Their flagship headphone system, the APERIO, takes both sound quality and product design to the next level with a 24 karat gold hand-finished limited edition. Here, LUX discovers how the ultimate listening experience is achieved

Numerous studies have shown that listening to music can positively impact your mood, well-being, sleep quality and cognitive ability, reduce stress, and even ease physical pain, but is there such thing as a perfect listening experience?

‘Sound is definitely a subjective experience and what is considered ‘perfect’ for one person may not be for another,’ says Martin Roberts Director of the Headphone Business Unit at UK-based audio technology company Warwick Acoustics Ltd., whose products are designed to achieve an exceptionally high level of sound clarity. Their recently unveiled flagship headphone system, the APERIO (named after the Latin word meaning to uncover or reveal), follows the company’s Sonoma Model One (M1) electrostatic headphone system, and is the result of three years of extensive sound exploration and technical development carried out in their Warwickshire workshops.

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‘Simply put: the APERIO is designed to reproduce audio content as pristinely and accurately as possible – revealing the details and complexities in the original recording without colouration or alteration,’ explains Roberts. A review in Hi-Fi News claims that the system possesses the ability ‘to deliver rare insights into your music.’ Whilst this level of sound quality is naturally more geared towards professionals in the music industry, the company hopes the product will also appeal to music-loving high-net-worth individuals as a high-functioning collectible item.

design workshop

Each APERIO is assembled by hand in the company’s Warwickshire workshops. Image courtesy of Warwick Acoustics

In terms of design, the company believes in American architect Louis Henry Sullivan’s ethos that ‘form follows function’, and aspire to create products that have a timeless appeal.

Read more: Why it’s important for banks to incentivise sustainability

The standard version of the APERIO, for example, is understated in sleek black with soft sheepskin leather and stylish detailing such as the curved metal patterning of the headphone grilles, which visually evokes undulating sound waves.

headphones

The APERIO standard version. Image courtesy of Warwick Acoustics.

The limited-edition Gold APERIO is more flashy, crafted from 24 karat gold (including the headphone grilles, hardware and Amplifier front panel) in England’s historic jewellery quarter in Birmingham. Limited to 100 units globally, the system is now available to buy in the UK exclusively from Harrods in Knightsbridge, London.

It’s not just the design that has been upgraded, however, the Gold system also utilises the highest grade Balanced-Drive HPEL Transducer (the component that determines the quality of sound reproduction) innovated by Warwick Acoustics to guarantee outstanding performance. That level of quality doesn’t come cheaply though; the Gold model retails at a cool £30,000/US$35,000 whilst the standard version is priced at £20,000/US$24,000.

gold headphones

The Gold Aperio is limited to 100 units, available in the UK exclusively at Harrods, London. Image courtesy of Warwick Acoustics.

But how exactly is audio performance or sound quality measured? Each APERIO undergoes rigorous testing, including at least three human listening tests, before the product is released from the company’s Warwickshire facility. ‘The APERIO is about listening to music as if you were there,’ says Roberts. ‘I remember when I visited a very famous recording studio in Los Angeles and a mastering engineer listened to a remastered recording by the great Frank Sinatra… He listened intently to the same track several times then just sat back and said, “Wow.”  When I asked him how his experience was he said, “Amazing, I have literally listened to that Sinatra track a thousand times and this is the first time I have ever heard him smacking his lips in the pauses between verses of the song…Simply astonishing detail”.’

Read more: Artist Yayoi Kusama’s designs for Veuve Clicquot

sound testing

Warwick Acoustics’ anechoic chamber where the headphones are tested. Image courtesy of Warwick Acoustics.

Attention to detail is at the heart of Warwick Acoustics’ engineering philosophy. The whole system is designed to work harmoniously together, rather than piecing together disparate components and technologies. In many ways, it’s a similar process to the development of a supercar or ultra-high-performance watch, and ultimately, that’s what you’re paying for: the experience. Listening to music is, after all, a process of immersion, of gradually getting closer to the sound, of being slowly transported into another place, self, or way of being.

For more information visit: warwickacoustics.com/headphones, or contact [email protected]

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Reading time: 4 min
underwater photographer diver
underwater photographer diver

An underwater photographer wearing the Blancpain Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph. Image by Harald Hois

Swiss watch brand Blancpain has long championed the exploration and conservation of our oceans through their Bathyscaphe range of innovative underwater timepieces. Chloe Frost-Smith takes a closer look at the collection’s newest additions

Widely recognised as the luxury watchmaker for the underwater world, explorers, oceanographers and underwater photographers have worn Blancpain since their creation of the first modern diver’s watch, Fifty Fathoms, in 1953. The Swiss brand’s latest additions to the Bathyscaphe line delve into its deep-sea history while continuing its long-standing commitment to the protection of the oceans.

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The Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition and the Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph introduce an earthy aesthetic into the collection’s previously nautical palette, with two new colours in beige and green featuring on the strap and face of each model respectively.

underwater watch

The Bathyscaphe Flyback Chronograph

While the sandy tones of the Day Date Desert Edition might not immediately conjure up a connection to the ocean, they have been designed to evoke the Nevada Desert where Ernest H. Brooks II, a pioneer of underwater photography and contributor to the Edition Fifty Fathoms project, made a spectacular dive in 1962. Descending into the depths of Devils Hole in the infamous Death Valley in Nevada, Brooks photographed an endangered species of pupfish exclusively found in the Devils waters for the first time.

leather strap watch

The Bathyscaphe Day Date Desert Edition

Although vintage in appearance, the Day Date Desert Edition is undoubtedly modern in mechanism. Boasting a five-day power reserve and a 43mm satin-brushed steel case which is water-resistant to 30 bar, the latest Bathyscaphe model comes with all the essentials for a diver’s watch which are also useful for daily wear.

Read more: Nadezda Foundation’s Nadya Abela on running a children’s charity

watch on man's wrist

shark underwater

The Bathyscaphe Mokarran Limited Edition timepiece (above) and researchers with a great hammerhead shark. Image by Thomas Pavy

In addition to the brand’s annual support to expeditions and major oceanographic projects as part of the ongoing Blancpain Ocean Commitment, Blancpain is now dedicating a diver’s watch to the protection of the Great Hammerhead shark. The conservation-themed Bathyscaphe Mokarran Limited Edition is limited to 50 pieces, with $1,000 of each sale donated to the Mokarran Protection Society, a non-profit organisation that is committed to researching great hammerhead populations in French Polynesia. Fitted with a display caseback, the tropical green Mokarran is engraved with a hammerhead on the rotor of its caliber 1318 movement.

Find out more: blancpain.com

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Reading time: 2 min
wine estate
wine estate

Château La Mission Haut-Brion. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon

For the cosmopolitan Prince Robert de Luxembourg, owning one of the world’s most celebrated wine estates, Château Haut-Brion, was not enough. The former Hollywood screenwriter is creating a world of fine wine and cuisine fantasy for visitors to enjoy in Bordeaux and Paris – and much more besides. Darius Sanai chats to the Prince about the future of Thomas Jefferson’s favourite estate

Chatting in fluent English about online retail and the Chinese social media app WeChat, Prince Robert de Luxembourg does not exactly conform to a preconception of a European prince who owns the longest established of all the great Bordeaux wine estates.

And yet since he took over Domaine Clarence Dillon, maker of Château Haut-Brion, in 2003, Prince Robert has transformed the company, taking it from being the maker of a couple of the most celebrated wines in the world (Haut-Brion and its sister, La Mission, and their second wines) but little else (and a little profit), to a business employing 200 people with five different wine ranges, a two Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris, an upmarket wine store next door, an online fine-wine retail business and a wholesaling arm.

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To add a little tannin to the story, Prince Robert, despite being born into the family that owns Château Haut-Brion, was not even intending to run it. In his youth, he was a successful screenwriter, spotted by Creative Artists in Los Angeles, with one of his scripts optioned by Steven Spielberg. To this day, he looks as if he would be as comfortable sipping a margarita in Malibu as a glass of the legendary 1989 vintage of his wine in Bordeaux.

You also feel he has only just begun on his journey of creating a real enterprise around a gem that was previously, if not neglected then certainly not fully polished.

He insists that he will not, unlike Bernard Arnault of LVMH, luxury magnate and owner of the equally celebrated Château Cheval Blanc, be lending his wine’s name to a hotel group. But there is more in the offing, including a tasting, dining and museum facility at the château itself. Unlike Cheval Blanc, Petrus, Lafite and Margaux, Haut-Brion is easily accessible from the city and airport of Bordeaux, and it is a place where he is determined that any lover of great wines should be able to visit and enjoy.

man looking out of window

Prince Robert de Luxembourg. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon

LUX: What were your dreams when you were young?
Robert de Luxembourg: Like all of us, I had all kinds of different dreams depending on my age and some of them were realistic and some were less so.

LUX: Not many owners of Bordeaux First Growths lived in the US and were scouted as screen writers by Stephen Spielberg.
Robert de Luxembourg: I lived in the US only because I went to university there for a short while (at Georgetown) in Washington DC. I was there for under two years. We’ve always had family properties in Maine up in the north-east where I go every summer. Afterwards, thanks to my future wife, we became involved in screenwriting. She was very keen and had done some courses and was working on some ideas and had written a couple of films before I became involved with her, and we wrote a first speculative script when we were living all over the place, including France and driving around. That was the one that was picked up by Creative Artists in Los Angeles and we were signed as young writers; there was interest from Spielberg in that script but we ended up auctioning it to Columbia Pictures and then we worked with different people on it including Peters Entertainment, Original Film and David Heyman. We would come and go. Creative Artists would set up two weeks of meetings for us; and then Columbia and David actually hired us to write another screenplay.

Read more: Penélope Cruz on designing jewellery for Swarovski

LUX: Does a bit of you wish you’d carried on?
Robert de Luxembourg: You can’t do everything in life, and what appealed to me initially about that was I was working with my future wife, and then the realities of our lives made it a bit more complex. I loved the purely creative process. But I have been able to enjoy that in the work that I do in the wine industry throughout all kinds of different projects, whether it’s in the wine estates’ architectural projects or whether it’s developing business ideas. My need, I have come to understand over time, is to be able to develop projects and to basically be able to tell a story and then see that story come to life. So, I have been continuing to write these stories even if they are virtual and seeing them come to life whether it is at Le Clarence or La Cave du Château, or whether it is creating our wholesale business plans.

Vintage photograph men in wine cellar

Seymour Weller and Douglas Dillon, respectively nephew and son of Clarence Dillon. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon

LUX: Was it always inevitable you would go into the family business?
Robert de Luxembourg: In 1993 it was clear that we needed to have the involvement of a young family member in the business. My mother was older and my stepfather, her husband, who was also managing director of the company, was also older, so there was a definite need to bring in new blood. At the time my writing was going well, so I spoke to my grandfather because I could see my career moving away from the family business, and I said, “I’ve been led to believe that there might be interest in me becoming involved. If that is the case, it’s really going to be now or never”. I had moved back to Europe, I was starting a family, I had bought a property and was building a house and all the rest of it, and so I was physically present and I could do it.

I didn’t know to what degree it would become such a central part of my life or how time consuming it would be at the time, but I said to him I don’t just want to be a caretaker if I become involved. I didn’t want to be involved for the glory of being associated with a wonderful story which is Haut-Brion, but to look after the business and develop it, and so he agreed with that, and then I became involved.

wood-panelled library

The library at Château Haut-Brion. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon

LUX: What was your plan when you started?
Robert de Luxembourg: I had to deal with the most basic things, like branding for example. I also wanted to make sure that we had as much focus on La Mission Haut-Brion [the sister property of Château Haut-Brion, regarded by many experts as equally good] as Haut-Brion so that they were both treated as equals. The business had always been a folly, never a business, we never took any money out of it. It was really just about making exceptional wine. I recognised that was not going to be a way that we could maintain family ownership over the generations. You have to also have a vision, you have to also be able to develop the business, and eventually down the road have a realistic income stream for future beneficiaries.

The story we had to tell was just extraordinary. We wanted to communicate it properly to the outside world, including that Haut-Brion has the most extraordinary wine history of any of the estates in Bordeaux, and we didn’t talk about it enough. Haut-Brion’s red wine as we know it today was basically invented by the Pontac family, and we had this extraordinary story of how the first vines were planted there probably in the first century AD, whereas the Médoc [the main red wine region of the left bank of Bordeaux] was only developed in the 17th century, so 1,600 years later. We were really the birthplace of the great wines of Bordeaux.

Read more: Designer Ali Behnam-Bakhtiar on bringing dream worlds to life

The Pontac family started all of these technological advancements, meaning they were able to develop the new French claret (red Bordeaux wine) that became famous thanks to their extraordinary marketing tool of opening up the Pontac’s Head tavern in London in 1666 after the great fire of London, where all of the cognoscenti at the time would go; everyone from John Locke and Isaac Newton to John Evelyn and Samuel Pepys would be there.

Since then, there has been the development of a new wine estate, Quintus, which really came into existence in 2011, so next year we will be celebrating our 10th anniversary. And then the creation of Clarendelle [high-quality entry-level white, rosé, red and sweet wines]. And that was an easy story for me to tell. I was a young man looking for a great bottle of wine that had a little bit of age on it where I wasn’t going to have to break the bank and have to store in a cellar in London because I didn’t have one. I could buy extraordinary aged Spanish wines or even some Italian wines but I couldn’t find anything from Bordeaux that had the regularity or quality at that price point. That’s where that idea came from.

LUX: With something like Le Clarence, the two Michelin-starred restaurant in Paris that opened in 2015, how do you decide that something which might be interesting to do will also be a good business?
Robert de Luxembourg:  There’s a little bit of a field-of-dreams scenario in some cases in that if you build something then they will come. Le Clarence was inspired by the Pontac family opening up this extraordinary restaurant in London in 1666 where they introduced the new French wines of Haut-Brion. It became the most hyped-up meeting spot in that city, and I also thought if they can do that in 1666 after the Great Fire of London, we could open something up in the heart of the most visited city in the world, Paris, a few feet from the most visited shopping street in the world, the Champs-Élysées. If they were successful then, why not now?

chef in the kitchen

fine dining

Le Clarence chef Christophe Pelé (above) and a dish of sea urchin with nasturtium. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon.

My wife told me I was absolutely crazy but I said why not do something a little bit different, I would like to design it myself, decorate it myself, build the team around it myself and do something that’s unlike anything else that’s out there. Because I could see the way that people would react when I would invite them to Haut-Brion; they would come to the château for lunch and you could see that people were charmed by that experience. It’s a home, it’s a family story, it’s a historical story and no one else can tell that story but us.

Today it is easy to find perfection in all of these designer restaurants in great hotels around the world that are designed by the same people oftentimes. But I think what’s truly priceless is finding a soul and also finding a perfection in imperfection.

LUX: And what about the idea of starting a wine shop in a city, Paris, that has no shortage of them?
Robert de Luxembourg: Once again, it was about how do you create a unique experience. You can see what Hedonism Wines did in London for example. You didn’t have a lack of wine shops in London yet what Hedonism did was unique and founded a new customer base. Also, Sotheby’s have done an amazing job with their wine shop in Manhattan. La Cave du Château is very specifically focused on the best French produce. My first job was writing letters to about 500 wine producers in France asking them and begging them if they could give us a few bottles to sell directly from the estate. And then creating an environment that was beautiful.

La Cave has developed into an e-tailer, a rather exciting new development that has been a lifesaver for us over the last few months.

Wine cellar

La Cave du Château. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon.

LUX: Walking around La Cave and Le Clarence, you feel that they are more private clubs than commercial entities.
Robert de Luxembourg: Ha, yes, I know, it does not look very commercial. But once again, that’s the ultimate luxury. You don’t want to be going to a place where you are right next to other people. For a lot of these people today the ultimate luxury is being comfortable, you don’t want to be overheard by the next table, you want to be in a place where you have space and a sense of privacy. The premise was to receive people the way we receive people at the château in Bordeaux, and to have a place where, before you go down to lunch, you can go and sit in the living room and have a glass of champagne, and after dinner you can go up and have a brandy as you would in the château, and if you want to go outside and have a cigar you can do so.

LUX: And we know you have more plans…
Robert de Luxembourg: Yes, we will be opening up private dining rooms in Bordeaux, with a visitors’ centre. We will have a new Cave du Château which we’ll open up in our visitors’ centre, managed by our retail arm. We will have multiple private dining rooms there, and they can have an experience like the one they can have at Le Clarence but with an extraordinary wine shop downstairs, right within the vineyards of Haut-Brion.

Wine glass and bottle

Château Haut-Brion’s acclaimed 1985 vintage. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon.

Prince Robert de Luxembourg’s desert island wines: Château Haut-Brion 1945, Château Haut-Brion 1989, Château La Mission Haut-Brion 1955, Château Haut-Brion Blanc 1989, Château La Mission Haut-Brion Blanc 2009, Château Quintus 2019

LUX: With Château Haut-Brion, you are the guardian of one of the world’s great luxury brands. How does that feel?
Robert de Luxembourg: I’d like to say it’s the greatest! I don’t know – it depends how you define a brand. I am not arrogant because I am not responsible for it.

LUX: Traditionally, awareness of the great Bordeaux wines was handed down from parent to child – unfortunately, usually father to son. Now there are so many new markets – how do you pass the message on to the latest generation of wine lovers, and how do you ensure that the status of the brand is clear?
Robert de Luxembourg: It’s a challenge for us. When I first got into this space, a real wine lover in New York or Singapore or Hong Kong would say how exceptional our wines were. But none of our competitors had the regularity of the past century that we had at Haut-Brion. That was something not really known by the greater public, and it was something I felt we needed to work on.

We continue to be active and interact with people. We were the first First Growth to have our own server and website in China or have a YouTube channel or a WeChat account for our wholesale business, or to open up Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts for our vineyards.

You will probably remember that it was considered that luxury brands should not be represented in this space, and it took away from the experience. I disagree with that because I think if you controlled the way you do it you can reach this audience, especially a young audience. Our client base was changing and we needed to adapt to the youth.

chateau building

The chapel of Château La Mission Haut-Brion. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon.

LUX: And what about the wines themselves? There are commentators who say wine now is better than it has ever been because of advances in winemaking techniques. And others who say that, for example, the 1945 vintage is still the best ever made.
Robert de Luxembourg: The 1945 is the finest Haut-Brion that I have had the pleasure of enjoying. I have only had it about three times in my life. We sold the last eight bottles for charity about ten years ago, and we have none left.

But the unfortunate truth is that global warming has been beneficial to the regularity of quality with wines we’ve produced, alongside the technological advances. If you look at a temperature chart of south-western France over the years, and the heat of those particular years, you will note that the better vintages like the 1945 and 1989 are always the hottest vintages. I don’t want to take anything away from our winemakers and their work, but their work is easier dealing with a 1945, 1959 or a 1961 vintage.

Read more: Meet the marine biologist pioneering coral conservation

Yes, it is helped by technology and science, and also by massive investment. We have been in a golden period for the great wines of Bordeaux, and so we have made more money and thus are able to invest more money in all of our businesses and we always try and push the envelope and do better every year. And then we’ve had the arrival of the wine critics who have always encouraged and helped us to a degree, because we have people looking over our shoulder so you can’t get it wrong today. So, yes, I don’t think we have ever made better wines over a period of time than over the past two decades, and our climate conditions have greatly helped us.

LUX: Many wine lovers, after starting their First Growth cellar with the likes of Château Lafite and Château Margaux, eventually gravitate towards Château Haut-Brion. Why?
Robert de Luxembourg:As a wine lover, and I consider myself to be a wine lover before a wine producer, you tend to gravitate away from things that are easier to understand towards things that are more subtle and more difficult to understand.

And that is a disadvantage for Haut-Brion when you are doing a blind tasting and you are not eating and your more easily able on a cerebral level to recognise bulky and more fruit-filled wines. As you age and you become more educated, you want to have a different experience I think you look for something that sets off multiple parts of your gustatory experience, hitting certain spots you are not able to reach with other wines. It’s the same with a painting or a piece of music.

You might find it shocking and enjoyable to see a Pop art piece but over time you maybe gravitate towards something that’s a little bit more complex and has a little bit more depth, with more layers. And Haut-Brion is an intellectual wine because of the terroir, but also because of the way the wine is produced. We have always had that at Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion. They are wines that are more difficult to understand, but when you want to grow as a taster, they are remarkable wines. You see that people eventually gravitate towards lighter extraordinary wines, and great Burgundies which I love also, and I think that is also explained by seeking out something very subtle, elegant and complex.

LUX: What are the unique opportunities and challenges of running a family wine business?
Robert de Luxembourg: Already just being in the world of wine, there is the notion that we aren’t doing anything for tomorrow. A decision that I will make to pull up a parcel of vines and replant it will probably still benefit my grandchildren if they are lucky enough to be involved in the business. We don’t anticipate being able to have a short-term return on many of these projects. We didn’t take a penny out of the business for the first six decades of running this company. It really was a folly of my great-grandfather [Clarence Dillon, who acquired Château Haut-Brion in 1935] that was then inherited by his children.

Today we can’t just sit on our laurels and think that we are managing a jewel of today and being proud of being the wardens or owners of this jewel. We have to have a business that makes sense for future generations and shows some evolutionary growth because otherwise you will immediately get frustrations from the generations to come that build up, and we know how that ends. So that’s a big part of it, great people keeping great people on board, sharing that message with them, making sure they buy into that and we’ve been able to do that with all our companies.

We’ve had relative stability across the board with the teams of people that I work with. Take Jean-Philippe Delmas, a third-generation winemaker at our estate. His family arrived at Haut-Brion in 1923, so they are about to celebrate their century with us, but his is one of multiple families that have been with us for generations.

country estate

Château Haut-Brion. Courtesy of Domaine Clarence Dillon.

Winemaker and Deputy General Manager Jean-Philippe Delmas on the greatest wines from the Domaine Clarence Dillon estates

Château Quintus red 2011
We acquired this property in June 2011, so this is a first vintage. It is located on a promontory overlooking the Dordogne valley at the south-west end of Saint-Émilion. This wine is blended equally between Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It’s a sublime marriage of the finesse and elegance of Cabernet Franc with the power, colour and sweetness of Merlot.

Château Haut-Brion red 1989
Certainly the greatest success of all the wines produced by my father. Its harmony is close to perfection with a breathtaking intensity and aromatic complexity combining cedar, eucalyptus, mint, roasting and Havana. The whole tannic structure is coated, giving this wine an unexpected sweetness. This vintage remains and will remain a reference.

Château La Mission Haut-Brion red 2003
This is a vintage when the summer was scorching, so we started the red harvest in mid-August, working at sunrise at the coolest time of the day with refrigerated trucks to preserve the freshness until the vat. It is one of the few Mission vintages where there is a majority of Cabernet Sauvignon. The magic of this terroir does the rest with an incredibly fresh wine.

Château Quintus red 2019
This is the latest addition to this beautiful property in Saint-Émilion. After almost a decade of meticulous work, we have succeeded in creating not only a new brand, but also a new wine with its own identity. Over the years, we have patiently drawn the personality of this wine and have achieved our goal with this vintage.

Château Haut-Brion red 1929
Of all the vintages made by my grandfather, this is the greatest. Even today, this wine has an amazing youth. The great density of this wine has allowed it to travel back in time. It has all the characteristics of the great wines that this terroir can produce – an aromatic signature, elegance and inimitable silky touch.

Château La Mission Haut-Brion red 2009
2009 seems to me to be the modern version of the legendary 1989. In this wine, we find all the characteristics of La Mission, with very rich, deep, spherical and coated wines. This wine charms you with its precision, a tannic structure counterbalanced by sweetness akin to velvet.

Find out more: haut-brion.com

This article features in the Autumn Issue, which will be published later this month.

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Reading time: 20 min
vintage ferrari
vintage ferrari car

This 1995 Ferrari F512M Coupé will be on sale at the Bonhams auction in Zoute, Belgium on October 11

Modern classic cars, desirable machines from the 1980s onwards, are hotter than ever, with demand not damped by the pandemic or constraints against driving. So for that reason, LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai says he is reluctantly putting his beloved Ferrari F512M, one of the craziest Ferraris of them all, up at auction with Bonhams

The economic ramifications of the coronavirus across the upper echelons of the collecting market have been unpredictable. Walking home from an emptying office at the start of the lockdown in London in March, I bumped into a gallerist friend, who was in the process of locking up the doors of his famous gallery in Mayfair for a potentially indefinite period. What did he think would happen in the art market, I asked him (this was a time when I naïvely believed that people would knew the answers to questions like this). “Carnage!” he said.

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Last week I was having a drink with another friend, one of the most significant collectors of contemporary art in Britain, and a good client of the same gallerist. My friend was bemoaning the state of his investments – not his stock market investments, which were doing very well, but the companies and people he has invested in directly. The companies are in the hospitality and retail sector, and having to let good people whom he knew and liked go was was eating him up, giving him sleepless nights, he looked drawn, despite his fitness regime and wealth. And how was the art market, I ventured, expecting more sharp intakes of breath, and of single malt. “Brilliant! I’m selling, and the prices are amazing!”

sportscar

2014 Bugatti Veyron 16.4 Grand Sport Vitesse sold for $1,750,000 at the Quail Motor Car Auction in August.

My friend’s observation was evidently a reflection of the specialised part of the top end of the market in which he is selling – abstract expressionism. The art world itself has been hit severely by lockdown. According to one survey, by UBS and Art Basel, art gallery sales fell by 36% in the first half of the year – although falling sales do not equate to falling prices for the most desirable works.

Another part of the collectibles market that could logically have been expected to collapse during the last ten months, but which has not, is that of classic cars. The sector has even more going against it than the art world at the moment. Announcements by governments that the sale of new fossil fuel cars will be banned during ever shorter time spans; ever stricter restrictions on driving in cities; coronavirus-induced road changes in favour of cycles and pedestrians.

vintage green sports car

1956 Lister-Maserati 2.0-Litre Sports-Racing Two-Seater sold by Bonhams for £575,000.

And unlike collectors of Rothkos, the classic car market is not restricted to ultra high net worth individuals who have seen the size of their wealth increase during coronavirus due to a boom in the stock market. Classic cars encompass everything from £5000 MGs to £50m Ferrari GTOs. And the different segments of this market, while separate, are not hermetically sealed. If the price of a Ferrari Daytona drops, then a Ferrari 355, at a tenth of the price, also tends to drop. Yet, despite everything, the classic car market has been doing well across some of its tiers.

Read more: British artist Marc Quinn on history in the making

“Despite the challenging circumstance, the collectors’ car market has fared better than other sectors,” says James Knight, Executive Director at auction house Bonhams. “Although some sellers were initially concerned that the timing was right for selling a valuable collectors’ motor car, our (online live auction) system has been successful. We have sold cars and have sold them well – many at pre-COVID level prices. This success has given others confidence and we’re seeing healthy volumes come to market and being sold for market-correct prices.”

Knight says the market has been doing particularly well in the “hot” area of modern classics, cars desired by the latest generation of collector. “We are seeing a trend towards more modern classics and supercars becoming ever more popular. The demographic of buyers is changing – younger buyers are entering the classic market and they are looking at the ‘poster’ cars of the 1980s, 90s and even of this century.”

Vintage red sports car

The Ferrari F512M had the final development of Ferrari’s famous “Flat V12” engine.

So, with this in mind, I have entrusted my beloved “modern classic” Ferrari F512M for sale at Bonhams auction in the swanky silver seaside resort of Zoute in Belgium on October 11.

After I bought it, in 2015, and drove it across southern England for the first time, I saw it as the last car in my small collection that I would sell. The F512M has all the elements of a true collectable. It is rare: only 500 were made, in 1994 and 1995. It looks striking, with the celebrated cats claw scratches down the sides, and a wide, flat rear straight out of an arcade game. It is the ultimate iteration, and technical pinnacle, of a famous model: the Testarossa, which was launched in a nightclub in Paris in 1984.

Read more: Four leading designers on the future of design

The Testarossa (Redhead) gained fame in Miami Vice, and was improved into the 512TR in 1991. Three years later, this evolved into my car, the F512M (“M” standing for “Modified” in Ferrari-speak). As well as a modernised front and rear (which does divide opinion – some found the original rear treatment more classic), it was the pinnacle of development of Ferrari engine and suspension of its time. The engine’s internal parts were made lighter by the use of rare metals, the suspension was modified for even racier handling, and the car in general was given the performance needed to be at the top of the Ferrari tree in the mid 1990s. The F512M was the fastest road car in the world, until the appearance of the special edition Ferrari F50, costing a multiple of the price, in 1996.

It is a quite astonishing thing to drive. The F512M has no power steering, And while it is a lighter car than its replacement, the 550 Maranello, it does as a consequence need quite an effort to haul it around corners in town. The flipside is there is nothing interfering with the communication of the road surface to your fingers, when you get out on to faster roads and the steering becomes both manageable and responsive. Power-assisted steering systems, and particularly the latest electronic power assisted systems, cannot compete in terms of pure road feel. And the F512M’s manual gearbox (newer Ferraris have the easier-but-less-exciting paddleshift) is such a thing that a senior Ferrari executive drove my F512M and tweeted about it in delight.

red sports car

Ferrari steering wheel

Bonhams director James Knight says this particular example has the “holy trinity” of superb condition, perfect provenance and low mileage.

The subsequent 550, and later V12 Ferraris, were tuned more towards comfort and cruising, attracting a broader selection of buyers than the hardcore purchasers of a F512M. And the focussed and rare nature of the 512 is reflected in its price: good examples retail for two to three times the price of its more modern, comfortable 550 Maranello successor. Indeed, the F512M is the the last of a monstrous line that began with the 365 Berlinetta boxer in 1973, a family of Ferraris with a 12 cylinder engine placed not under the bonnet, but right behind the driver and passenger’s head. The sound, from centimetres away from your ears, when accelerating at full spate, is quite frightening – as if you are inside the jaws of a ravenous Tyrannosaurus Rex.

There is something else quite special about the F512M. Every Ferrari made afterwards was equipped with safety devices like stability and traction control, which meant that if you were about to lose control of the car by accelerating too fast around a corner, the car would notice, and stop you from doing so, electronically.

vintage ferrari

The F512M being sold by our Editor-in-Chief was previously owned by one of Spain’s most prominent collectors, who kept it alongside the rest of his Ferrari collection in a heated underground garage. When we bought it, we put it though Ferrari’s official 101 point Approved car check, which it passed with flying colours

Not only does the F512M not have any kind of safety control “nanny”: it is also the most powerful-ever general production Ferrari with a V12 engine placed behind the driver. On the one hand, this means for thrilling handling: turn the feelsome steering wheel, and there is no engine weight over the front wheels to create inertia by creating momentum through its mass and resist the turn. It just turns.

The corollary of this is that when the back of the car also turns, a nanosecond later, the mass of the engine turns with it, and if you get your cornering wrong, will wish to continue turning, American-cop-car-in-street-chase-style, until you go round in a circle. Keeping this under control at high speed would be both a challenge and a delight – although to be fair, the advanced suspension and huge rear tyres mean breaking traction only really happens when you want it to. I’ve never done it.

Read more: How Chelsea Barracks is celebrating contemporary British craft

So why am I selling it? Firstly, I simply do not have the opportunity to take it out onto the road where it can be driven properly. This is a car that needs to be driven from London to Tuscany at high speed. I barely have time on a weekend to get from London to Oxford.

Also, in the little leisure driving time I have, I have become an increasing cultural fascist about convertibles. I believe cars with open tops are right, and everything else is wrong. Or something like that.

Vintage sports car

1959 Porsche 718 RSK Spyder, sold for $2,232,500 at Bonhams Quail Motorcar Auction in August.

Sadly, they did not make an open top version of the F512M. So, I want to sell it and put the money towards an open-topped V12 Ferrari. You will find full details of my magnificent F512M, which I purchased from one of the most prominent collectors in Spain, here.

As Knight himself says about this car: “The Testarossa is one of the modern Ferrari icons and the F512M was the final and the rarest version with just 501 examples produced. This is a very special motor car as it represents the ‘holy trinity’. It is offered in superb condition, having been exceptionally well-cared for; it has covered fewer than 20,000 kms and has the all-important provenance, which includes full Ferrari service history.”

If you’re the lucky buyer, please promise me a ride. I will miss her. And meanwhile, long may the market for collectibles thrive – after all, driving a two-seater Ferrari, you and your passenger are in glorious self-isolation as you hurtle towards your destination, enjoying every second.

For more information visit: bonhams.com

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Reading time: 9 min
wine bottles
wine bottles

Ornellaia 2017 Solare Vendemmia d’Artista 6 litre with label designs by Tomás Saraceno

This week, Italian wine producer Ornellaia opened its 12th annual online benefit auction in collaboration with Sotheby’s and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, featuring vintages with label designs by Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno. Chloe Frost Smith takes a closer look at the available lots
artist signing work

© Photography by Studio Tomás Saraceno, 2019

This year’s auction continues Ornellaia’s Vendemmia d’Artista project, which commissions a different contemporary artist each year to create an artwork for a series of limited-edition labels. The artist is given a single word description of that year’s harvest by the estate director, Axel Heinz, as inspiration. Last year, Iranian artist Shirin Neshat responded to ‘La Tensione’ with a series of monochrome photographs, and this year, Argentinian artist Tomás Saraceno has incorporated ‘Solare’ (‘radiant’ in English) into several aspects of his designs.

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Renowned for his interactive installations that allude to new sustainable ways of living, Saraceno has created a striking set of labels which depict various phases of a solar eclipse for nine lots of Imperials, to be sold individually or in pairs. The auction’s most prestigious lot comes in the form of the Salmanazar sculpture, titled “PNEUMA 4.21×105”, an impressive 9-litre bottle of Ornellaia 2017 topped with a floating sphere anchored to the neck of the bottle. Reminiscent of the artist’s previous work on untethered flight, this celestial sculpture highlights the importance of the relationship between the Sun and the Earth, and of renewable resources more generally.

three wine bottles

Ornellaia 2017 Solare Vendemmia D’Artista, with various designs by Tomás Saraceno including the Salmanazar sculpture (centre)

Not only embodying ‘Solare’ visually, the labels are a tangible take on the concept – made from thermochromic paper, which changes colour according to the heat of a person’s hand. This sensory detail invites reflection on the impact of humanity on the planet, in keeping with the wider issue of environmental sustainability which is at the heart of both Saraceno’s artistic ethos and Ornellaia’s production philosophy, which has long focused on self-sustaining ecosystems and precision agriculture.

Bringing a sense of completion to the auction, a unique vertical of the last six years of Ornellaia is available, in twelve 750ml bottles featuring the customised labels in a celebratory wooden case, alongside six Ornellaia Bianco magnums from the last three vintages.

The auction ends on 9 September 2020. Register via: sothebys.com/ornellaia 

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