a plate of food with green vegetables and red chilli
a plate of food with green vegetables and red chilli

Shisen Hanten’s signature steamed sliced kurobuta pork with chilli

Michelin-Star Singaporean Restaurant – renowned for high levels of food, and a view of Singapore from 35 levels high. LUX checks it out

Muted chandeliers, an almost debonair charm welcome one in – and the lights across night sky waving from fellow tall buildings, silhouetting the Singapore skyline.

a chef with lots of fire

Shisen Hanten’s Executive Chef, Chen Kentaro

We were served what is called the ‘Opulent Menu’ – something that Chef Kentaro likes to nimbly stretch across Szechwan cuisine with an embition menu, celebrating signature flavours of Shisen Hanten – a fusion, if you like – and traditional Cantonese flavours.

A fine Devaux Cuvée to start, to accompany a selection of (particularly succulent) prawn, pork and specially delicious bang bang chicken.

Next a Foie Gras Chawanmushi with Crab Roe soup. And the crab was so fresh that some guests, who didn’t like tripe, enjoyed these just fine.

a bowl with soup in it

Shisen Hanten’s Foie Gras Chawanmushi with Crab Roe Soup

But the freshness of a Wagyu Beef rose above itself, complimented by a glass of Torbreck. Tender, and served across an array of dishes.

a room with mood lighting, a large table and lots of chairs

Shisen Hanten is located on the thirty-fifth floor in Orchard, Singapore

Steamed lobster was cooked confidently, amply seasoned with its Yuzu soya sauce – retaining its juicy tenderness, and matched confidently by an Australian Chardonnay of a calm dry and the stir-fried tofu had a signature Singaporean fire unmatched.

a bowl with a red spicy-looking soup

Chef Chen’s Original Spicy Noodle Soup

Night was closing in, lights were beginning to turn out in the disciplined buildings of Singapore, but time for just one Szechwan jelly with delicious fresh fruit. One last sip of Chardonnay, before descending the many flights to the heart of the city below.

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The greatest wine discoveries on the planet might just be from an Australian brand that has been hiding in plain sight. In a conversation and tasting with Penfolds Chief Winemaker Peter Gago, LUX has a revelation

The world of fine wine is a paradox that make things interesting – sits Penfolds, a one. Some of the greatest wines are household names: who hasn’t heard of Dom Pérignon or Château Lafite? Yet others of the same or even higher stature are almost secret; few outside a tiny circle of collectors know of the wines of Henri Jayer or Château Rayas.

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And even seasoned wine collectors and aficionados could be forgiven for being confused by the “origin paradox”. This is not a story of religion (although, given the fervency of arguments it generates, it could be), but of location. As ever wealthier collectors delve ever deeper into their passions, the specific vineyard sites of specific producers can see their produce sell for a multiple of the price of the vines next door, ostensibly making the same kind of wine from the same type of grapes on the same soil.

man

Chief Winemaker Peter Gago

Within this fascinating collectors’ maelstrom – and with wine, as with people, it’s the paradoxes that make things interesting – sits Penfolds, a producer at once revered for its super-premium collectable wines, and known for its good value everyday bottlings. Penfolds is a latticework of delicious paradoxes – a fine-wine world in itself. For example, it’s quite possible you will find a delicious, easy-drinking Penfolds red wine at a good metropolitan supermarket for the price of four oat chai lattes at Starbucks. Meanwhile, if you wanted to get your hands on a bottle of Penfolds g3, one of the producer’s most revered red wines, wine-searcher.com lists its average global price as around £18,500 (US$23,000) at the time of writing. Only 1,200 bottles were ever made. Even more extreme is Penfolds Ampoule, a glass and precious-metal decanter of one of its most rare wines, the Penfolds (monopole) 2004 Kalimna Block 42 Cabernet Sauvignon, of which only 12 were made, and which currently retails at around £127,000 (US$160,000) – if you can find one.

wines

A line-up of Penfolds classics

Penfolds’ slightly more abundant high-end wines, The Penfolds Collection, are celebrated by connoisseurs around the world: bottles such as Grange and Bin 707 sell for the same prices as the most prized châteaux from Bordeaux. The 2021 Yattarna, a Chardonnay, recently received a 100/100-points score from leading authority on Australian wine Andrew Caillard MW; like a super-luxe white Burgundy – Le Montrachet, say. For us, the most intriguing, and delicious (see tasting notes, opposite) Penfolds paradox is a development of the company’s different way of doing things. Grange, traditionally its most celebrated wine, made mainly of the Shiraz (Syrah) grape, has always been made from multiple vineyard sites across a vast area, in stark contrast to its counterparts in France, which are from tiny, specified vineyard plots.

Now, Penfolds has stretched that logic from Australia across countries and even continents: Penfolds II is a top-end Cabernet-Shiraz from Bordeaux and South Australia (in the same bottle). The company also now makes Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon wines in Napa, as well as making wines (in the Medoc/Bordeaux) with grapes sourced from across the Bordeaux region. Peter Gago, Chief Winemaker at Penfolds, says stretching the brand from the high end to the middle market is a deliberate, democratising strategy. “Luxury has many meanings to many different people – it’s a continuum,” he explains. “We mustn’t forget that this is Penfolds’ 180th year, and what we do at the top end has to permeate all the way down to entry-level wines. This is what sets us apart from other ‘luxury’ wines. I’m not saying I’m a socialist when it comes to luxury, but it’s not just for the chosen few, it’s for everyone to have a taste of. “What makes us unique is affordable luxury at one level, transcending to the 2012 Ampoule launched at the Baccarat Club in Moscow: courage coupled with quality.” Gago makes the point that Penfolds wines have rewarded investors in top-end wines as well as any of the world’s best: the Ampoule was launched at around £87,600 (US$110,000) 12 years ago, and one reportedly recently sold on the secondary market for around £130,400 (US$162,000).

Read more: Lewis Chester on Giacomo Conterno

room

The Grange Tunnel at the Magill Estate, which is just east of Adelaide

UK-born Gago has been Chief Winemaker at Penfolds for 22 years and moves and shakes with rock stars and Hollywood actors who revere the wines; but he is never happier than when talking about the wines. He enthuses about Penfolds’ continuing collaboration with Champagne Thiénot, which has seen the release of some highly acclaimed vintage Champagnes in its first five years, including the 2013 Penfolds X Champagne Thiénot Blanc de Noirs, which last year was awarded Best Blanc de Noirs Champagne in the world by a panel of experts compiled by tastingbook.com founder Pekka Nuikki. (Champagne, of course, can only be made in the Champagne region of France.) He also enjoys the challenges of making a great Pinot Noir to match the best of Burgundy like a great Chambertin or Vosne-Romanée. “Some say that Australian Pinot Noirs lack the complexity of Burgundy. With Cabernet and Shiraz, we’re competing at any level. For Pinot Noir, the journey continues,” says Gago. It’s a journey Penfolds has been taking for nearly two centuries, and one that Gago and his successors will no doubt savour. Meanwhile, the greatest wine discovery you may make this year could just be a wine from a brand that’s been hiding in plain sight.

king charles

King Charles and Queen Camilla (the then Prince Charles and Duchess of Cornwall) taste the 1962 Penfolds Bin 60A with Peter Gago in 2015, Milton Wordley Photography

Tasting notes by LUX

1 Penfolds Grange, 2019, South Australia – £600 (US$740)

The ne plus ultra of Penfolds wines (if you ignore the hyperwines at hyperprices), and often thought the world’s best Shiraz (Syrah). This is a complex philosopher of a wine, which reveals layer upon layer over an evening. This vintage is still at school; try to find one of university-graduation age.

2 Penfolds Bin 707, 2019, South Australia – £450 (US$555)

Bin numbers are essential to an understanding of Penfolds wines, and 707 is an eternally velvety Cabernet Sauvignon that is a world in itself. It
is neither slightly austere, like a Bordeaux, nor open, like many great new-world Cabernets. A restrained lusciousness, like a young Daniel Craig.

3 Penfolds Bin 704, 2019, Napa Valley – £60 (US$75)

A Napa Cabernet by an Australian company? Zut alors! We loved the subtle fanning of flavours – more a refined tap on the shoulder than a knockout punch. More Bogart than Stallone.

4 Penfolds II, 2019, Bordeaux/South Australia – £270 (US$335)

A French-Australian blend! Double zut alors!
This wine has the intensity of Simone de Beauvoir and the persistence and artistry of Shane Warne. And chapeau to Penfolds for even trying.

5 Penfolds Yattarna, 2021, Australia – £135 (US$165)

Garnered a perfect 100/100-point score from wine critic Andrew Caillard MW; rich yet levitatingly fresh, powerful yet delicate, quite unlike anything else – like Margot Fonteyn driving an F1 car.

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beautiful dinner arrangement
beautiful dinner arrangement

Since 1829, Champagne Bollinger has been making gwines, expressing the aromas of the fruit in all its dimensions.

James Bond’s champagne house of choice released the latest iterations of its new top-end champagnes amid glitz and glamour in Paris. Masha Nosova secured an invitation

The evening took place at the Bucherie in the Latin Quarter, originally an amphitheatre for medical students in the 17th century.

The cuvees served were La Grande Annee and La Grande Année Rose 2015. Bollinger uses oak barrels for fermentation, unusually for champagne, which creates richness, weight complexity and depth A tangible connection to this legacy was brought to life as Gaël Chaunut, the in-house head cooper, demonstrated the centuries-old art of barrel-making, a process as intricate as it is timeless.

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man with champagne glas

Charles-Armand de Belenet is the managing director of Maison Bollinger

The themes of ‘wood’ permeated throughout the evening, from the meticulously crafted canopy of 9,500 paper pieces, reminiscent of a forest, to the exquisite gastronomic journey curated by Two Michelin-starred Chef Olivier Nasti, masterfully incorporating elements of nature into his tantalising creations and transporting us on a journey of flavours. His venison tartare with Osciètre caviar and citrus ice with petals complimented effortlessly alongside La Grande Année, while the tender game of Alsatian hunts presented with a colourful quintuplet of sauces, found its perfect match with La Grande Année Rosé 2015. A mystery wine, which later revealed itself as the Grande Annee 1989 was paired with a 28 month aged Comte.

Read more: A tasting of Drouhin’s fine Burgundies

beautiful french house

The Maison Bollinger event took place in a beautiful house in the heart of Paris

Champagne-bollinger.com

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big green vineyard
Beautiful, big house with ah big terrace and garden

Since 1843, six generations of the Krug family have perpetuated this dream, enriching the Joseph Krug’s vision and savoir faire. Today, the Family House welcomes Krug Lovers from around the world to take a sensorial journey around Krug Champagne.

What are the 12 greatest wine estates in the world? A subjective question, surely. Lewis Chester doesn’t think so. The British financier and founder of the Golden Vines awards kicks off a series where he outlines for LUX his golden dozen, the most collectible wine estates from the world’s major regions. For the first instalment, he pays homage to Krug, the revered champagne house owned by LVMH

Why begin my personalised list of the World’s Best 12 Fine Wine Estates with Maison Krug? As a fine wine collector for almost twenty-five years, I have collected more bottles of Krug than any other wine: more than 1,500. More importantly, I drink more bottles of Krug than any other wine – every Friday night with my family at a minimum. My middle daughter, Anoushka, was just twelve years old when she developed a craving for Krug. Maggie Henriquez, at the time the Maison’s President & CEO, found out about Anoushka’s love of Krug and invited her and her friends to celebrate her future eighteenth birthday party at the estate!

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Krug evokes class and sophistication. In 2012, the late, great Paul Pontallier invited me to an 8-hour marathon lunch in the great salon of Château Margaux, one of the five left-bank First Growths. On arrival, Paul – the Château’s estate manager – served me a glass of Krug Grande Cuvée, the multi-wine non-vintage blend that Krug lovers around the world imbibe on a regular basis. At around 7pm, after having consumed six bottles of Margaux and a bottle of cognac, I asked Paul why he had chosen to serve me Krug: “We, at Château Margaux, want our guests to consider our wines as being at the same level as those from Maison Krug”. Wow! What an endorsement. Many years later, I would be told something quite similar by Don Weaver, the estate manager at Harlan Estate in Napa Valley, when he met me at the winery door holding two glasses and a cold bottle of Krug Grande Cuvée.

big green vineyard

Joseph Krug did not believe in hierarchies between his Champagnes, clearly written in his personal notebook in 1848. Today the House offers seven Champagnes, all of the same undisputed quality, each illustrating a different expression of Nature.

Krug ages forever. Along with Grande Cuvée, the ‘cheapest’ wine in the Maison’s range at around £200 per bottle, the Maison produces a vintage bottling in good years, as well as a formidable non-vintage Rosé, and a rare ‘Collection’ version of its vintage champagnes (only available to private clients). For those willing and able to pay thousands of pounds per bottle, they also produce – in miniscule quantities – a single-vineyard Blanc de Blancs (Chardonnay) wine, Clos du Mesnil, and a single-vineyard Blanc de Noirs (Pinot Noir), Clos d’Ambonnay.

Known for having wines that are generous on the palate, with huge complexity helped by ageing in wooden barrels, Krug is somewhat opposite in design to its LVMH stablemate, Dom Pérignon, which is known for its reductive style of champagnes. Unlike Dom Pérignon, Krug makes less than a tenth of the volume of wine, although getting the exact production figures from either Maison is as difficult as getting your hands on Russia’s nuclear launch codes.

Dark wine cellar

Olivier Krug, the sixth generation of the Krug family and Director of the House welcomes Krug Lovers from around the world to the Family House in Reims.

The Maison was established in Reims in 1843, by Joseph Krug, a true visionary non-conformist with an uncompromising philosophy for quality. Joseph’s novel idea was to craft the very best Champagne he could offer, every single year, regardless of annual variations in climate – rather than bottling a wine only in good vintages. He also introduced the idea of building an extensive library of reserve wines from many different years to craft the perfect blend. Six generations of the Krug family have continued Joseph’s work, with Olivier Krug being the latest in a long line of family members to be working at the estate which has been owned by LVMH since 1999.
The most recent innovation at the estate was numbering each bottling of Krug Grande Cuvée with an ‘Edition’ number. In 2016, Edition 163eme was launched, representing the 163rd annual bottling of Grande Cuvée from the time of Joseph Krug’s first vintage in 1844. Krug Rosé edition numbers shortly followed suit. Collectors can use the Krug app to quickly find out what and how many wines comprise any given Edition number, and even what music ensemble to pair with the wine. For instance, the most recent release, 171eme Edition, is blended with 131 wines from 12 different years (2015 all the way back to 2000), made up of 45% Pinot Noir, 37% Chardonnay and 18% Meunier grapes. Julie Cavil, the Chef de Cave, recommends enjoying this Krug with Joseph’s Theme: Dream Variation (composed by Kazu Makino et al).

Read more: A tasting of Drouhin’s fine Burgundies

Lewis’s Best 3 Wines from Maison Krug

Krug, Clos du Mesnil, 1979: the first vintage from this iconic single vineyard, it ranks as one of the best three wines I have ever tasted from any estate. Aromas of roses and petals, and a finish that ran for several minutes in the mouth. Worldclass.

Krug, Clos du Mesnil, 2002: although still a relative puppy, I am convinced that the 2002 vintage will last for another twenty-plus years and be considered alongside the 1979 vintage as a legendary wine.

Krug, Vintage 1988: if you can find a bottle that has been stored well, the wine will be remarkably fresh, vibrant and complex, and I guarantee that it will blow your socks off.

wine bottles laying next to each other

Each year, Krug’s Cellar Master auditions 250 wines of the year and 150 reserve wines when creating a new Édition of Krug Grande Cuvée

The 2024 edition of the Golden Vines awards will take place in Madrid between October 25-27 2024. liquidicons.com

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Jacquesson Managing Director Jean Garandeau approaches the house on the Jacquesson estate

François Pinault, the French luxury titan, recently purchased champagne Jacquesson, one of the country’s hidden gems and a favourite of Napoleon Bonaparte. Darius Sanai pays a visit and speaks to the team

Champagne is an interesting phenomenon in the world of luxury drinks. For some, it is still an aperitif to be sipped before the real wine begins. For many others, a great champagne is a drink to be savoured and deliberated over. The production of champagne is more complex than that of still wine, giving ample opportunity for connoisseurs to debate and be fascinated. And a changing climate and more sophisticated farming and winemaking techniques mean that the best champagnes now are, arguably, the best champagnes that have ever been.

Into this mix, add the recent arrival of fevered discussions among collectors about size. Not size of bottle, which is still important (the common agreement is that a magnum has the perfect ratio of liquid to gas within the bottle for perfect ageing), but of producer. Unlike other fine wines, great champagnes can be produced by large corporate brands, but also by tiny farmers with small plots of land – the latter recently coming to the fore in public consciousness.

A view across the vineyards of what is one of France’s oldest champagne houses

Sitting amid this magnificent landscape (both figuratively and literally) is Jacquesson, an intriguing champagne house that has, for the past few decades, been a cornerstone of the cellars of many connoisseurs and collectors. Not big enough to be known as a Grande Marque, but not small enough to be a small grower, it made its modern-day fame by pioneering the creation of numbered, non vintage champagne (see The 700s below) and some incredibly complex single-vineyard cuvées made in tiny quantities (see The Tasting).

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One of the oldest of all the champagne houses, with one of the richest of what the French call patrimoines (roughly translated as “heritage”, but, in fact, meaning much more), Jacquesson is often cited as having been a favourite of the Emperor Napoleon. After its founding by the eponymous family in 1798, and what was probably the most significant celebrity endorsement in the world to date by the Europe-conquering emperor, who awarded the maison a gold medal in 1810, it lost its way a bit after the family sold it in the late 19th century, and through much of the 20th, before it was bought by Jean Chiquet in 1974 and handed down in 1990 to his sons, Jean-Hervé and Laurent, who began its revival. The brothers rationalised the range, focused on quality, reduced the quantity produced, introduced single-vineyard cuvées (ahead of the current trend for such wines)and, finally, led the way in the creation of the numbered cuvées, first released in 2004.

The cellars hold the 700s and the late disgorgements, which are kept for longer

And now, Jacquesson is just entering a new and extremely significant chapter in its patrimoine. The house was acquired in 2022 by François Pinault’s Artémis Domaines, a division of Groupe Artémis. The Groupe also owns Christie’s auction house, and Kering, which includes Gucci and Balenciaga. Artémis Domaines also takes care of Château Latour and a small selection of jewel-in-the-crown wine estates in France and California. Upholding the promise of its imperial birth, Jacquesson is now firmly a member of a new French empire – that of high luxury.

Frédéric Engerer is the straight-talking Managing Director of Artémis Domaines; having first managed Château Latour on its acquisition by Artémis Domaines, and subsequently other estates including the celebrated Clos du Tartin Burgundy, acquired in 2018. Engerer is also something of an unspoken sustainability pioneer: Latour was the first of the First Growth Bordeaux estates – the most exclusive club, comprising Châteaux Latour, Lafite Rothschild, Margaux, Mouton-Rothschild and Haut-Brion – to be certified 100 per cent organic, in 2019. Engerer is, understandably, proud of the acquisition.

Jean Garandeau

“We have been following Jacquesson for many years,” he says. “The way the Chiquet brothers, Jean-Hervé and Laurent, modernised the brand and increased the quality level of each cuvée in such a short time is tour de force.

“Creating the Cuvée 700 was based on a very simple and understandable concept with a very recognisable label; and at the same time, focusing on quality rather than quantity of crops, keeping very traditional vinification methods, increasing the ageing of each cuvée and reducing– if not eliminating totally – the level of dosage [added sugar]. This led to cuvées 700 that are very balanced, elegant, refined and with very distinctive styles for each of the fourlieux-dits [single vineyards].

The antique estate doors

“Moreover, Jacquesson’s small size as a maison producing 250,000 bottles per year, its strong vigneron culture and its image as “champagne for the wine connoisseur” are all elements very much aligned with our philosophy at Artémis Domaines and are very compatible with our other domaines.”

“So these are Pinot Noir grapes,” I say, knowledgeably, looking at some hopeful young bunches on a vine on a slope with a spectacular view of what seems like the whole of the Champagne region. Above us is a thick forest, packed with dozens of different types of trees, bushes and other vegetation. Below us, in a bread bowl, are swathes of vineyards, dropping down into a series of villages, leading to the town of Épernay, centre of the Champagne region. Beyond, the vineyards rise, once again to forests, beyond which land stretches to the endless undulations of la France Profonde

A progress check on a batch of 2018 Dizy Terres Rouge

I am with Jean Garandeau, appointed Managing Director of Jacquesson in 2022, and Vineyard Manager Mathilde Prier. “No, they are Chardonnay grapes,” Prier replies with a smile. I raise an eyebrow. This hillside, above the village of Dizy, is famous among wine lovers for producing some of the best Pinot Noir wines to go into the greatest champagnes. “It’s true that most of this area is Pinot Noir,” says Garandeau, sensing my confusion. “But it just shows that very special grapes can grow where you don’t expect them to.”

The Chardonnay from this vineyard makes Corne Bautray, a tiny production wine that has become one of the estate’s most celebrated, and which we will taste later. We continue on our tour of the panoramic vineyard area, ducking down one bumpy unmade track after another until we get to another vineyard. “This is all Pinot Noir,” says Garandeau, pointing around an area around the size of a couple of tennis courts.

The vineyards stretching to the forested hillsides

Jacquesson is a rare producer in several ways. It produces very small quantities of these single-vineyard wines – to the extent that they are not so much cult wines as secret wines, each market just getting a few cases to be fought over by collectors. The maison also does not make a rosé wine, nor a standard vintage champagne, which typically is a blended champagne made out of grapes of a single year. Apart from the single vineyards, the accent is very much on the numbered releases, or 700s, and their distinguished cousins, the late disgorgements, which are simply the same wines but held in the cellar, maturing in their live creative process for years longer.

The Jacquesson estate itself is in Dizy, one of the villages we saw from the hillside up above. There is a handsome house with a lawn and a small vineyard next door, and a tasting room with a vaulted ceiling. The cellars, like that of any champagne house, are extensive. Sitting in the tasting room, Garandeau tells me there is no plan to make dramatic changes at Jacquesson. “We are starting at a very high level, but we can fine-tune. We are very focused on understanding the terroir of each vineyard and, if possible, sourcing some additional great grapes to complement what we have. We can invest in facilities, improve parts of the process and, after one or two vintages, be confident to take decisions because we know the process a little better. We can also work to increase awareness among international wine lovers.

The spectacularly situated vineyards contain Chardonnay as well as Pinot Noir grapes

”There are no plans to turn the boutique grower into a giant, along the lines of more famous houses. “We have a boutique approach at Artémis Domaines, which is part of our culture, and which helps build on the future for Jacquesson,” says Garandeau. “Boutique is the future as well as the past.” There are, he adds, no plans to bring in additional ranges, or a rosé (the latter was discontinued by the previous owners) – a shame, as I am sure Jacquesson would make a rosé to rival Dom Pérignon’s powerful offering and the curiously (in the context of its other wines) delicate offering by Krug, both from houses owned by LVMH (majority-owned, in the case of Krug).

Read more: A tasting of Schrader’s legendary Napa wines

Garandeau also points out that tastes for champagne are changing. “In the past, people would go into a restaurant and want to start with a bit of champagne, and take whatever was served by the glass and not really question it,” he says. “Now, people are focusing increasingly on taste. People will get the full wine list and choose a bottle of champagne to share before the meal. And even when you see the selection of champagnes by the glass in many places, where 20 years ago you would just have the big brands, now it’s changing and there is much more variety. Champagne is being treated much more like wine.”

Vineyard Manager Mathilde Prier

With that, the first cork is slowly released from its bottle by Cellarmaster Yann Le Gall, and our tasting begins – although not before I reflect that one of France’s most sophisticated luxury brands is beginning a new phase in its patrimoine that could be just as interesting as those of its first decades.

The 700s

Jacquesson gained instant credibility among wine geeks, many of whom had previously considered champagne a second-class drink, when it replaced its entry-level non-vintage champagne with its numbered Cuvées 700 in 2004. Almost all champagne houses had, until then, produced a “non-vintage” champagne as their primary offering, blending wines of different years together without indicating which – most still do. The 700s were different, declaring by their numbering exactly which year the wine in the bottles was based on. This arcane detail immediately transformed perceptions: a champagne house that was not trying to make a generic non-vintage blend, like a whisky, each year, but instead proud that different years produced different types of wine, and saying so on the label. The fact that the wines, starting with Cuvee 728 in 2004 and proceeding up by one number each year, were of such high quality, also helped.

Jean Garandeau and Cellarmaster Yann Le Gall at the tasting

The Tasting: Notes by Darius Sanai

Cuvee 746

The latest of the 700 series. A sultry, thought-provoking and sophisticated wine: Catherine Deneuve in a 1958 Lancia Flaminia Sport Zagato.

the Jacquesson estate house, which dates back to 1798, when the maison was founded

 

 

Cuvee 741 Dégorgement Tardif

Released after extended ageing on its yeast in the cellars. A serious champagne to be enjoyed over an extended meal at your riverside château in central France, with Jacques Brel playing on your turntable.

The process of making champagne is more complex than that of still wine

Champ Caïn 2013

Recently released after 10 years maturing in the cellars. All Chardonnay: pretty yet powerful at the same time, like Béatrice Dalle in vintage Balenciaga.

Corne Bautray 2013

Another Chardonnay-based single-vineyard wine, this is intense, deep, thought-provoking and quite serious, like sitting with Simone de Beauvoir in Les Deux Magots.

A bottle of Cuvée 746, the latest of the estate’s treasured 700 series

Terres Rouges 2013

Exclusively Pinot Noir, and with something complex and not yet fully detectable emerging under its perfectly polite manner, like the first part of a meal with Jean-Paul Belmondo.

Vauzelle Terme 2013

If any of the Jacquesson champagnes resembles the maison’s most famous advocate, it is this, tiny production label. You take a sip and think you have mastered it, then it comes back at you from different directions. Like Napoleon, this will get ever better with age.

Photography by Brice Brastaad

Find out more: www.champagnejacquesson.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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A house in a green field
A chef with a basket picking vegetables in a garden

Chef Davide Guidara in the garden of Veuve Clicquot

The champagne house Veuve Clicquot hosted a lunch in Paris in which eight chefs, hailing from Switzerland, France, Italy, Japan and the UK created dishes using only the produce from Veuve Clicquot’s garden in Reims to perfectly match La Grande Dame, its prestige champagne. The results were anything but expected. Candice Tucker reports

Over 200 years ago Madame Clicquot, the founder of Veuve Cliquot is said to have said, “If, in the search for perfection, we can take two steps at a time, why be content with just one?” This single statement was the inspiration behind Veuve Clicquot’s plan to gather some of the world’s greatest chefs to create a fine dining meal solely using produce from the estate’s garden, where “Grand Cru” vegetables mix with Grand Cru grapes. The event was intended to show that La Grande Dame, is a champagne to be enjoyed at the heart of any meal to compliment the fine food.

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The participating chefs were picked from regions renowned for their culinary traditions. Representing France were esteemed chefs Amélie Darvas and Emmanuel Renaut. From Italy, Domingo Schingaro, Enrico Crippa and Alberto Toè. Sally Abé represented the UK and Dario Cadonau, Switzerland. Japanese culinary excellence was demonstrated by Kanji Kobayashi.

A group chefs standing next to eachother

Left to right: Emmanuel Renaut, Sally Abé, Kanji Kobayashi, Alberto Toé, Dario Cadonau, Enrico Crippa, Amélie Darvas, Domingo Schingaro

What made this event so extraordinary was not just the culinary talent on display, but the unique constraint faced by each of the chefs: dishes had to be crafted using only products from Veuve Clicquot’s garden, while perfectly matching La Grande Dame champagne.

A table with yellow and wood chairs set

The Garden of Gastronomy event in Paris

The dishes that emerged from this culinary challenge were nothing short of spectacular. Among them were Cadonau’s garden herbs and yellow beets presented with an intricate lace pattern detailing framing the plate, constructed using herbs to adorn the dish with edible flowers, resembling the picture of a garden.

A dish with green lace herb detailing framing a plate of beetroots in a white source with herbs and edible flowers

Dario Cadonau’s Garden herbs with yellow beets

Domingo Schingaro created a dish based on lettuce with almond and anchovies; whilst anchovies might normally be the focal taste of a dish, they were simply used as a condiment in this case, not taking any attention away from the star of the show, the lettuce cooked to crunchy perfection in a yuzu sauce.

A chef preparing ravioli in green leaves

Amélie Darvas working on her Marigold ravioli, Hungarian Blue Squash, tomato water and fig leaf maceration

The champagne’s complexity, with its layers of citrus, floral, and fruity notes, found its perfect companions in the carefully composed dishes. The result was a symphony of flavours that danced on the palate, highlighting the quality of both the champagne and the garden produce.

Read more: Veuve Clicquot CEO Jean-Marc Gallot on the spirit of the iconic brand

The champagne was also poured into both narrow and wide glasses, depending on the meal, changing both its taste and texture to match the food being eaten.

A chef wearing a long white hat and uniform holding a bottle of champagne in a field

Chef Tadayoshi Kimura in the Veuve Clicquot garden finding produce to match La Grande Dame

Veuve Clicquot’s Garden of Gastronomy event in Paris was a celebration of culinary creativity. This event highlighted the versatility of prestige champagne in fine dining  and showed how a delicate complex and multi-layered champagne like La Grande Dame can be a brilliant match to an astonishing variety of food.

Find out more: veuveclicquot.com

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case-study-01

Advisory / Champagne

LUX x Deutsche Bank

As global content and marketing partner for Deutsche Bank, we create content, virtual and real life events, business, academic, institutional and individual introductions, and collaborate on ESG strategy.

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Photo by Andy Mann

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Photo by Ben Thourad

Case Study

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Deutsche Bank x LUX ESG Strategy

The Mission

To help Deutsche Bank position themselves as the lead banking institution to be pioneering ocean conservation and the blue economy.

Execution

Sourcing and securing key leaders to participate in events and conferences around sustainability and in particular ocean conservation and the blue economy.


Thought leadership content streams created for Deutsche Bank over multiple channels.


16 page section in LUX magazine and online featuring leaders in the ocean economy, investors and philanthropists developed over several years with a special edition dedicated to the conference.


Introductions to partners who can enhance Deutsche Bank’s involvement in the ocean conservation space.


Direct Introductions to potential clients who are interested in investing in the blue economy or philanthropically towards the Deutsche Bank Ocean Resilience Philanthropy Fund.

Result

Created high engaging, original and successful events conference connecting ideas, entrepreneurs, thinkers and leaders.


Formed long term-partners and clients in the ocean conservation space.


Produced content for the intended audience showing Deutsche Bank’s commitment to ocean conservation.

Case Study

strip

Deutsche Bank x LUX ESG Strategy

The Mission

To help Deutsche Bank position themselves as the lead banking institution to be pioneering ocean conservation and the blue economy.

Execution

Sourcing and securing key leaders to participate in events and conferences around sustainability and in particular ocean conservation and the blue economy.


Thought leadership content streams created for Deutsche Bank over multiple channels.


16 page section in LUX magazine and online featuring leaders in the ocean economy, investors and philanthropists developed over several years with a special edition dedicated to the conference.


Introductions to partners who can enhance Deutsche Bank’s involvement in the ocean conservation space.


Direct Introductions to potential clients who are interested in investing in the blue economy or philanthropically towards the Deutsche Bank Ocean Resilience Philanthropy Fund.

Result

Created high engaging, original and successful events conference connecting ideas, entrepreneurs, thinkers and leaders.


Formed long term-partners and clients in the ocean conservation space.


Produced content for the intended audience showing Deutsche Bank’s commitment to ocean conservation.

ben-thourad-02b(1)

Photo by Ben Thourad

ben-thourad-02

Photo by Ben Thourad

ben-thourad-02a

Photo by Ben Thourad

Case Study

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Deutsche Bank x Frieze Art Fair x LUX

The Mission

Amplified Deutsche Bank’s leadership role as a bank in the art world, produced content for the intended audience showing Deutsche Bank’s commitment to art, and formed partnerships and client relationships.

Execution

Year round content creation and coverage in print, online, social media
and video.


Introductions to collectors and artists.


Exclusive events at Deutsche Bank, Frieze lounge and collectors’ homes.


Interviews and interactions with artists and collectors.


Special issues of LUX devoted to Deutsche Bank x Frieze.

Result

Amplified Deutsche Bank’s leadership role as a bank in the art world.


Produced content for the intended audience showing Deutsche Bank’s commitment to art.


Formed partnerships and client relationships.

Case Study

strip

Deutsche Bank x Frieze Art Fair x LUX

The Mission

Amplified Deutsche Bank’s leadership role as a bank in the art world, produced content for the intended audience showing Deutsche Bank’s commitment to art, and formed partnerships and client relationships.

Execution

Year round content creation and coverage in print, online, social media
and video.


Introductions to collectors and artists.


Exclusive events at Deutsche Bank, Frieze lounge and collectors’ homes.


Interviews and interactions with artists and collectors.


Special issues of LUX devoted to Deutsche Bank x Frieze.

Result

Amplified Deutsche Bank’s leadership role as a bank in the art world.


Produced content for the intended audience showing Deutsche Bank’s commitment to art.


Formed partnerships and client relationships.

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Read Deutsche Bank
special edition

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Read Deutsche Bank
special edition

Contact us

For partnership, event and advertising enquiries
please contact
[email protected]

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Contact us

For partnership, event and advertising enquiries
please contact
[email protected]

Follows us on Instagram

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Reading time: 19 min
A grey sports car outside a vineyard
A grey sports car outside a vineyard

The Aston takes in the Clos de la Roche vineyards in Burgundy, France

In the second part of our Great Drives series, Darius Sanai travels, in an Aston Martin DB11 V8 Coupe, from the Jura Mountains, Switzerland to London, UK via Burgundy and Champagne, France for a quick tasting of Amour de Deutz, 2008

In the Vallée de Joux in the Jura Mountains in Switzerland, signs for watch manufactures (factories) come as thick and fast as signposts for whisky distilleries on Speyside. Tempting though it was to make a stop (we at LUX know the watch manufactures well, but they require a little planning to visit), we dropped down a gear in our xenon-grey Aston Martin DB11 and zoomed out of the valley along snaking roads through deep forests. Every mile or so, the trees dropped away to reveal a lake or another valley. We opened the windows to hear the thrumming of the Aston’s V8 engine, a low, mellow but not over-loud rumble, bouncing off the slopes on either side of the road. This was a joyous drive.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The DB11 Coupe is a piece of automotive architecture, sculpted, so it seems, from a block of granite. It feels satisfying to drive, even if you are not moving. It is very satisfying, and not a little fun, to drive when you are. The empty French roads allowed us to accelerate a little faster and farther than perhaps we would have done in Switzerland, where we had started that morning, or back in England, our final destination. It’s not overly challenging, but it is nicely weighted to give you a sense of Aston Martins of old, which were slightly macho and brutish as well as beautiful, like Sean Connery as James Bond, or perhaps a young Marlon Brando. Fortunately, too, it does not succumb to the latest trend of making extremely fast cars too easy to drive.

the black leather interior of a car

A peek inside the Aston Martin DB11

You would not buy the DB11 if you just wanted a very fast car, we mused, as the road, having descended down through the north side of the mountains, straightened out along a plain lined with wheat fields. These days, almost any electric car – and there seems to be a new one every day – can be programmed to go as fast as a moon rocket, but where’s the fun in that? This Aston, with its masterpiece of an exterior and equally chiselled interior, and lovely waffles of leather all around inside, is an event to be in and to arrive in. The hotel we were staying at that night in Burgundy, Hostellerie Cèdre & Spa Beaune, gave it pride of place in its car park.

A car behind an arched gate

The Aston Martin DB11 V8 Coupe in the courtyard of the Deutz champagne house, France

The Cèdre is exactly the kind of place you want to arrive at when touring France. A little palace or big mansion (take your pick), on the edge of the old walled town of Beaune in the centre of Burgundy’s wine country, it has a driveway lined with very smart cars that show the measure of its clientele, who travel from all over the world to stay and taste wines here. There is a maze of a garden with ornamental ponds and seating dotted around the foliage. We sat there that evening and enjoyed a glass of poignant 2019 Château de Meursault, salty and nutty and balanced, from a small producer just a couple of miles away. The air smelled like the wine. Inside, the Cèdre is traditional and rich, like the home of a wealthy merchant. By the bar, an Enomatic machine, which preserves open bottles of wine, serves a selection of the great vintages of Burgundy – no need to visit a wine estate, just stay here and taste.

the outside of a white hotel with tables and parasols in a garden

Garden dining by night at the Hostellerie Cèdre & Spa Beaune, Burgundy

Our room was characterful and split-level, with bedroom and bathroom on one floor and a living area in a gallery above, big enough for a group of four to stretch out on the sofa and chairs, fine wines in front of them, and chat into the night. The room didn’t have a big view but it had an interesting one, across the outskirts of Beaune to the vineyard slopes creating its eponymous, and delicious, red wine. One of the world’s most ancient vineyard sites, its history can be traced back 1,000 years. This is a soulful hotel.

A massage chair with a brown towel on it surrounded by stone and glass walls

The stylish Nuxe Spa in the vaults of the Cèdre

Our focus the next day was a drive across the countryside of central France, from one of its great winegrowing regions, Burgundy, to another, Champagne. These are connected by an autoroute, and getting there can take fewer than three hours. But that would not do justice to a car like this, so we took the back roads instead. First, we wound our way up the low, but very definite ridge of the Côte-d’Or, where we saw the same Burgundy vineyards we had seen from our hotel room, and then through forests, glades and ancient villages on the Plateau de Langres. This is Charlemagne territory, one of the most historic but unexplored parts of France. In each village there were at least a few grand houses, hundreds of years old, that wanted to tell a story.

A lounge with a fireplace and leather brown chairs

A cosy ambience at the Cèdre Lounge Bar,

The Aston ambled happily through them, like a big dog strolling with its mistress, then roared down the empty byways when the countryside emptied out a little. After a couple of hours, wanting to make it to Champagne for our next meeting, we headed back towards the autoroute, joining it near Charles de Gaulle’s home village of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises. On the smooth French highway, the Aston reverted to its alter ego of relaxed grand touring car, purring quietly.

Champagne bottles lined up

The sublime tasting at the Deutz champagne house, France

Deutz is not a champagne house that is familiar to so many international wine collectors. It doesn’t market itself like the region’s more famous names. Perhaps it doesn’t need to, we reflected, as our taxi dropped us at the maison’s cobbled courtyard (the Aston having been parked safely at our hotel for the night). After a tour of the massive underground cellars, we were shown into a beautiful historical house, its decor preserved as the Deutz family created it in the late 19th century. The tasting room was really a garden room, looking out onto lawns and intricately planted borders.

A window with flowers behind it

Window views from the garden room at the Deutz champagne house

Deutz is about quality more than marketing – more than anything, we thought, as we were guided through a selection of the maison’s champagnes. The vintage rosé, 2013, was delicate, balanced, floral and beautiful. They only got better. The prestige cuvée, Cuvée William Deutz, had a power, a richness and a kind of nobility to it – the sort of champagne you would serve at the coronation of a king (a shame the French got rid of theirs), or perhaps at a dinner to mark the 200th anniversary of your watch manufacture. But it was another one of their champagnes that really got into our souls.

three wine glasses on a table

Tasting of Cuvée William Deutz and Amour de Deutz

Amour de Deutz is made from 100 per cent Chardonnay, the best picks of the white grape that the maison gets its hands on every vintage. We tasted the 2013, 2009 and 2008. They were sublime: complex nutty creaminess, a savoury edge, richness yet ethereal lightness and a kind of golden flavour. Each was more powerful than the last, yet as gentle as a butterfly. Featherlight yet eternal.

Read more: Great Drive: Santa Monica to Napa Valley, Califonia

The next day, powered by memories of the Amour de Deutz, we cruised back to the UK in the beautiful, purring Aston, a case of golden champagne treasure in its (small but adequate) luggage compartment. The perfect little grand tour in the perfect grand tourer.

Find out more:

astonmartin.com

cedrebeaune.com

champagne-deutz.com

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

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chalk and soil in the shape of a leaf with the Louis Roederer logo in the middle
chalk and soil in the shape of a leaf with the Louis Roederer logo in the middle

LUX attends an exclusive masterclass with Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, Cellar Master at Louis Roederer, to try the never tasted before cuvées of Collection 244

Louis Roederer was very quick to notice the challenges that climate change was going to bring to the champagne market. Thus, ten years ago they founded the concept of Collection, to evolve their wines with the ever changing natural landscape. Lécaillon explains that instead of surrendering to the effects of climate change, we need to work alongside them.

A horse in a field
A bottle of champagne surrounded by soil and chalk
A bunch of black grapes

Dramatic changes to our climate leads to powerful changes in the wines we consume. 2019 was a year of record-breaking high temperatures from intense heat waves. However, the 2019 harvest was highly successful, delivering wines that were dense and fresh and forming the basis of Collection 244.

A horse in a vineyard

The blend consists of all the the champagne house’s origins: 1/3 from “La Rivière” Estate, 1/3 from “La Montagne” Estate and 1/3 from “La Côte” Estate. The Collection is made up of 54% of the 2019 harvest and 36% from the wines of the Perpetual Reserve.

On the future of the wine industry and its priorities, Lécaillon said, “after the fight for freshness, we are more in pursuit of finesse, because the wine of tomorrow is the wine of finesse.” 

Two men wearing brown jackets and shirts
branches stood up around a bottle of champagne
A man wearing a suit holding a bottle of champagne

Whilst tasting through the vintage for the very first time, Lécaillon said “it is ripe with high sugar but elegant and precise…expressive & fruity. [The vintage is] still young with a reductive bouquet. Some fine citrus. Hazelnut from Reserve Perpetuelle. Concentrated and fleshly texture. Creamy but fresh and alive. Almost a Blanc de Blancs definition. Elegant, precise and transparent. Round, textured but fresh and light, chalky. Seamless, dense, precise and perfectly integrated. The finish is even more salivating.”

Find out more: www.louis-roederer.com/collection244

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Reading time: 5 min
A woman wearing leaves
women in purple dresses playing violins outside an old Italian building in a courtyard

Black Rabbit Projects perform during the Golden Vines Awards Ceremony and Closing Gala Dinner. Photo by Pietro S. D’Aprano

British businessman Lewis Chester created the most glamorous event in the wine world. He reveals the history and inspiration for the Golden Vines awards
A man wearing a white shirt and necklace standing in front of bottles of wine on shelves

Lewis Chester. Photo by Murray Ballard

My wife, Natalie, hates going to wine events. She finds them boring. Stiff, average food, staid surroundings, too much wine talk, too little fun. For me, as a self-professed wine geek, and longtime collector and lover of all things wine, there was only one way of getting Natalie to a wine event: create one for her. Incredible venues, world-class entertainment, classy crowd, elevated but fun atmosphere – and amazing food and wine.

So it is because of my love for Natalie that Golden Vines, which I started in 2021, is now widely regarded as the world’s best fine wine event. For me, topping last year’s second edition in Florence will be no easy task, given the incredible locations like Palazzo Vecchio, wines like Château Cheval Blanc and Dom Pérignon P2 and entertainment including Celeste. But this is no frivolous activity: we raised over £1 million for the Gérard Basset Foundation to fund educational programmes around diversity and inclusivity in the wine, spirits and hospitality sectors.

Someone pouring a green bottle of wine into a glass with a man sitting at the table

Dom Pérignon held a Masterclass event around the award ceremony

Wine has been an interesting life journey for me. I grew up in a teetotal household in North London. As an undergraduate at Oxford University, to my surprise, no one offered me drugs and I couldn’t find someone to sell me any. So, I created a wine club and never looked back. Then, while studying for an MBA at Harvard Business School, I founded The Churchill Club, a wine, whisky and cigar club.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

We were the first American university to be sponsored by the Cuban Government to learn about cigars, even though we had to fly from Montreal to Havana as travel from the United States was banned. Post-graduation, I returned to London and started collecting fine wine and rare whisky. My best friend, Jay, is a huge wine collector, and he got me interested in Burgundy wines which is still my favourite wine region. As I like to say, ‘all roads lead to Burgundy’.

People standing by a bar next to a vineyard

The Marchesi Antorini private visit and lunch that took place around the awards

In the late 2000s, I read an article about Gérard Basset, the only man to hold both the Master of Wine and Master Sommelier qualifications. Gérard had also won the World’s Best Sommelier Championships at his sixth attempt and founded the wine-inspired hotel group, Hotel du Vin. (He had also mentored many of the most prominent sommeliers, restaurateurs and hoteliers working in the UK and France today.) I decided to cold-call Gérard who, to my surprise, answered the phone and invited me down to his hotel, TerraVina in the New Forest. From that moment on, we became close friends and began travelling the world of wine together. Gérard took me to Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, Piedmont and Tuscany. The doors always opened for Gérard, which gave me unique access and insight into the wine world.

A dinner table with candles and a large chandelier hanging above it

The Marchesi Antinori dinner

Gérard had more wine qualifications than anyone else on the planet. So, after much prodding and encouragement, he convinced me to study wine. “If you want to become one of the world’s great wine collectors”, he told me, “you need to study wine”. I passed my WSET Diploma, won a number of scholarships along the way, and then he pushed me to study for the Master of Wine. At that point, my wife, Natalie, told me “no way”. (Having later read an article showing that there was an usually high divorce rate among those who study for the Master of Wine, she was probably right.)

Gérard was disappointed, but he suggested we start Liquid Icons together as “my alternative MW”. We had no idea what we would do with the company, but thought we would figure it out as we went along. Sasha Lushnikov had been introduced to me by a school friend as a super smart, young entrepreneur and I had brought him into one of my other businesses. I asked Sasha – who, at the time, had no wine knowledge or experience – if he would be interested in being involved in a wine venture with no business plan, no business model and no idea as to what we would be doing. He eagerly accepted!

A lit up red room

The Taylor’s Port Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships awarded £55,000 each to three BAME/BIPOC students studying for the Master of Wine or Master Sommelier programmes

The journey began, as it usually does for me, over a drunken long lunch. I had been hosting an annual La Paulée (after-harvest) lunch party for my friends in the wine industry. We decided to poll them on who they thought was making the best fine wine in the world, as well as their views as to future industry trends. Sasha and I then wrote a report called The Global Fine Wine Report based on the poll findings which we distributed for free – another consistent theme of Liquid Icons’ business dealings!

At around this time, Gérard had called me to complain about various ailments, including continuous back pain. After undergoing various tests, he rang to give me the bad news. He had esophageal cancer. I knew enough about this horrible disease to know the story wasn’t likely to end well. And so did Gérard.

people standing outside a conservatory in uniform

The Dress to Party Charity Gala Dinner took place at Tepidarium Giacomo Roster

Over the next two years’, the renamed Gérard Basset Global Fine Wine Report grew and grew. Hundreds of fine wine professionals – Masters of Wine, Master Sommeliers, merchants, brokers, sommeliers, media and press – contributed to the Report’s findings. Unfortunately, Gérard’s condition – after a brief period of remission in mid-2018 celebrated with a wine dinner at my house on a lovely June evening – continued to worsen.

cases of wine and a red wheel

Wines and champagne served at the event include those from Château d’Yquem, Dom Pérignon, Dom Pérignon P2, Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux Echézeaux Grand Cru, Harlan Estate, Krug Grande Cuvée, Krug Vintage, Liber Pater, Taylor’s Port 50-year old Tawny and many others

In early January 2019, Gérard asked me to come down to see him at the hospital in Southampton, knowing it would be the last time that we saw each other. After a few hours of reminiscing, he motioned to his wife, Nina, to leave the room so we could chat. As he asked me to keep the conversation confidential, I have never disclosed it to anyone, other than to say that it was Gérard who was the inspiration behind the Golden Vines and the Gérard Basset Foundation. Gérard passed away on Wednesday 16 January 2019. He was 61 years’ old. His passing was greatly mourned by the entire global wine and hospitality industry.

four men and a woman holding awards

The 2022 Taylor’s Port Golden Vines Diversity Scholarships was awarded to Jarret Buffington, Sandeep Ghaey and Carrie Rau

From that point on, I was on a mission to create a lasting legacy for Gérard, and one that would involve Nina and his son, Romané. I just didn’t know what it was going to be. Sasha and I had many ideas. But none of them stuck. Then, in early June 2020, we went to lunch with my friend, Clément Robert MS, who was running the vast fine wine programme for the Birley Clubs and Annabel’s. Getting mildly drunk over a vertical of Trimbach’s legendary dry Riesling, Clos Sainte Hune, I started to pitch the outline idea for the Golden Vines. “Dude, why don’t we take the winners in the Gérard Basset Global Fine Wine Report, and create the Oscars of Fine Wine? It’s never been done before. And let’s do it in a way that Natalie will want to come”. Sasha then suggested we raise money for charity in Gérard’s name, which was the hook that took this from a drunken thought to the exciting idea that we had both been looking for since Gérard’s passing.

A woman wearing leaves

The Gérard Basset Foundation was set up to honour the legacy and memory of Gérard Basset OBE MW MS by addressing the wine industry’s most pressing issues of diversity and inclusion

Clément loved the project and introduced me to Richard Caring, the billionaire tycoon of Annabel’s Private Members Club in Mayfair. Richard agreed to give us use of the Club pro bono for the new charity. Simultaneously, Nina and Romané agreed to get the paperwork started to form the Gérard Basset Foundation.

Read more: A tasting of Vérité wines with Hélène Seillan

We chose educational programmes aimed at diversity and inclusion in the wine (and later, spirits and hospitality) sector as we thought that it was a huge problem in the industry and one that Gérard would have keenly supported. Nina reached out to Jancis Robinson and Ian Harris, CEO of the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust, and soon the Foundation was formed with a great group of Trustees who all knew and loved Gérard; and the rest is history.

A man holding a cocktail to his lips

Gérard Basset © Liquid Icons

The third edition of Golden Vines will be held in Paris in October this year. Like most of the best things in life, entry is expensive, but the £10,000 ticket price will be covered alone by the pouring of Liber Pater, the world’s most expensive red wine on release (€30,000 per bottle).

A woman in a pink dress singing on a stage whilst people sit at tables around the stage

Celeste’s performs during the Golden Vines Awards Ceremony And Closing Gala Dinner at Palazzo Vecchio, 2022. Photo by Pietro S. D’Aprano

Culinary creations will be provided by a collaborative ‘Four-Hands’ partnership of legendary three Michelin star chef Alain Ducasse and two Michelin star chef Akrame Benallal, one of the rising stars of the global fine dining scene. Interestingly, Ducasse will actually be cooking, a rarity for the man with more Michelin Stars in front of his name than anyone else. Family-owned cognac house, Camus, have created an exclusive old cognac blended by the other half of the chef duo, Akrame, only available for those attending the event.

There are two galas, taking place at the marvellously exotic Musée des Arts Forains (Museum of Fairground Arts), Les Pavillons de Bercy and the Opéra Garnier. There will also be masterclasses from some of the biggest names in the wine world.

Find out more: liquidicons.com

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Yayoi Kusama Statue at the Veuve Clicquot Exhibition. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

Maison Veuve Clicquot has brought its travelling exhibition to London this May. Trudy Ross stepped out to Piccadilly Circus to interview CEO Jean-Marc Gallot amidst sunflowers, paintings, sculptures, and that iconic gleaming yellow 

LUX: Queen Victoria was the first British royal to order a direct shipment of Veuve Clicquot in the 19th century. Now in 2023, with a new monarch having just been crowned, the brand still has this presence in the heart of London. Can you speak to the brand’s long history with the Royal Family?

Jean-Marc Gallot: It is a very, very, long history. I think the first shipment for the royal family was in 1868. In one of the exhibition rooms upstairs we have a menu made especially for Queen Victoria’s son, Edward the 7th Prince of Wales. He gave us the Royal Warrant in 1905, so, I would say, we have a very strong link and history with the UK.

The Maison was created in 1722, so we celebrated 250 years last year. The first shipment to the UK was in 1773, 250 years ago. So there is a long, long story between Veuve Clicquot and the UK. Out of the nine female artists we have here, two are British. We have Cece Philips and Rosie McGuinness, who have created their own portraits and interpretations of Madame Clicquot.

LUX: Throughout these 250 years, what do you think has changed about the brand and what has remained the same?

JMG: What remains today and will continue to remain, is the fact that we have an incredibly inspiring woman at the centre of our history. Madame Clicquot at her time was so courageous, determined, and audacious. She was a widow at 27 years old but her spirit, her audacity, and also this idea of being solaire, being radiant, is what remains in everything we do. It is a state of mind. Everyone from myself, the CEO, to my team, to everyone you will see here today from Maison Veuve Clicquot, works with this state of mind. I think it’s super important to have this spirit of being solaire, audacious and always surprising people. That is not going to change.

Display of Veuve Clicquot’s iconic designs through the years. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

What has changed? I would say that when you are so linked with the contemporary and the people around you, you also have to be very curious and try to evolve. So an example is right here: you have the very first ice jacket made by Veuve Clicquot. This first one was made 20 years ago out of diving costumes, but the ones we make now are made by the Saint Martins School of Business of 100% recycled plastic and this mono-material approach uses on average 30% less material than regular production. You can look at things we made 20 years ago and think, yes, this is nice, but we must continue to innovate, to respond to the times and move forward. Every single box that we make now in Veuve Clicquot is made out of 50% recycled paper and 50% hemp (not the hemp that people smoke!).

What we want to show here is that we have some duties to the world we live in. Not everyone is aware of the need for these things, so as a major brand we can help to act as an exemplar. This is what I am hoping to build with my team.

LUX: Your champagnes are offered at a range of price points. How do you balance keeping its luxurious and exclusive reputation whilst also ensuring it is accessible to a wider audience?

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JMG: I have been working for 34 years in the luxury world. I worked at companies like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Fendi, wonderful luxury names, and I know that luxury, for some people, means something that is not easy to get or seems unapproachable.

I don’t agree with that viewpoint at all. We have a collection of products, starting with the iconic yellow label, Brut, which is the most famous bottle of Veuve Clicquot, then you go to La Grande Dame which is at a much higher price point. Both of them however, embody the spirit of Clicquot, so it’s not a matter of price, it’s a matter of how desirable your brand is and how much you have built around the brand.

Take an exhibition like this, running for 3 weeks in the heart of central London. Some people in this area are on their way to very nice upmarket restaurants, and some are on their way to Tesco. Both will pass the exhibition, they will see these artists and learn about Madam Clicquot’s story, and then they will understand the dream, the spirit and the history of Veuve Clicquot.

Outside the Veuve Clicquot exhibition in Picadilly Square. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Can you tell us about the importance of art and the art world to Veuve Clicquot?

JMG: Actually, we are not really in the art world; I would say that we are in the design world. Design is not art, it is the way of making a beautiful object which is also functional, or building something beautiful around an object. When you sell bottles of champagne you have to build something really extraordinary. We love the beauty of objects and we believe that in champagne, since you have something precious inside the bottle, you have to make the outside of the bottle exciting as well. So we constantly are looking for the next idea, and there is no set recipe. It has to be a surprise, because more than anything else, we love the element of surprise.

LUX: Beyond this all female exhibition, Veuve Clicquot has many initiatives supporting gender equality, including supporting women entrepreneurs through your Bold Woman Award. Can you tell us more about this aspect of the brand?

JMG: This is the spirit of Veuve Clicquot. Fifty-one years ago one of my predecessors thought, what can we do for the 200 year anniversary of Maison Clicquot? They had an incredible inspiration and vision and said, why don’t we celebrate the spirit of woman entrepreneurs, why don’t we shine light on some inspiring women?

What we found out through running the Bold Woman Award was that for women there are many social barriers standing in the way of them running their own company or being independent. Veuve Clicquot is trying to fight against this because we believe there should be as many women entrepreneurs as men entrepreneurs.

The statistic is the following: 92% of women entrepreneurs believe and admit that they would love to have a role model, and only 15% of them can name one off the top of their head. We want to change this and help to inspire women. The first very inspiring woman entrepreneur was Madame Clicquot, and for the last 220 or 230 years, there have been many more women entrepreneurs that we want to shine a light on. It’s about sharing, inspiring and making the world more balanced between men and women.

Cece Phillips, Window Clicquot, 2022.Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: What is Madame Clicquot’s story and why is it so important to the brand?

JMG: You are in 1805 in France, in a very traditional, even noble family. You have faced a lot of challenges because twenty years ago was the French Revolution. You have a very nice husband who you love and a very severe and traditional father in law. Then you become a window overnight. Imagine: you basically don’t exist anymore. What are your options?

You could find another  husband, but instead you say “no, I’m going to take over the company. I’m going to run the company.” Everyone tells you not to, starting with your father-in-law. He says you are not capable of it, you cannot do it, you will not succeed at it. So, you are stuck.

If I had to describe Madame Clicquot, I would say she was  incredibly courageous, incredibly audacious and took huge risks. She teaches us that if you want to do something, just go for it. Never surrender.

LUX: The artworks that are on show here are reimagined portraits of Madame Clicquot. Can you tell me a little bit more about which ones are your favourite, and which one you think speaks to the values of Veuve Clicquot?

JMG: I have to say that I have a love for the Cece Phillips portrait in particular. You have the whole story there. You have a young woman sitting at her table, you see the vineyards through the window, you see that she is studying, very focussed but also very determined. She was writing a lot at the time, writing ideas, writing about the company. She was not travelling, but she was sending letters to all the customers around the world. This and the light, the vibrant, sunny appearance of it all, this is Clicquot.

I have to say, the portrait we have of Clicquot was taken when she was 84 years old and she looks a little bit severe! With all do respect to 80-year-old women, this was maybe not Madame Clicquot at her strongest period of life. Cece Phillips gets it all in one painting, you have the whole story in one, so it’s better than words.

Ines Longevial, Ghost Guest, 2022. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Beyond the artworks, what else interests you about the exhibition?

JMG: The statue of Yayoi Kusama is pretty impressive, but my favourite piece today here in London, which is not really in touch with the exhibition itself; it is the Sunny Side Cafe. I love it because this is actually when Clicquot meets British tradition and British culture.

LUX: The exhibition has been in Tokyo, Los Angeles, and now London. Where is next?

JMG: We started in Tokyo in June last year, and then we did three weeks in Los Angeles, and now it’s three weeks in London. Next year, we might go somewhere else, perhaps a continent we have not been to yet, perhaps South Africa.

LUX: What was the decision-making process behind choosing these three cities?

JMG: These are the three most important market places for Veuve Clicquot. I loved the idea of being in Tokyo because Japanese people are so refined. Then we went to the US and we didn’t want to go to New York because we thought we were going to be lost, and we love the vibes of LA so we went there. When we went to Europe we didn’t look for France – can you imagine me, a French guy, saying that! – but we decided to take it to London.

Yayoi Kusama, Twist with Madam Clicquot! Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Would you take it to France and if not why?

JMG: No, for a few reasons, actually. First we love to speak about our brand outside of our own country, and second because the UK is very important to us, and also because there are some legal constraints in France which wouldn’t allow us to make such an impression in an exhibition like we have here.

LUX: You have a lot of tradition and history behind you. In today’s market, with the younger generation coming up, what do you think are the key changes and the key ways that you’re going to have to adapt as a brand to appeal to these younger consumers?

JMG: We are a luxury maison, and I’m a strong believer that luxury is about what you offer rather than just marketing fast-moving consumer goods. We talked about how to surprise people, how to make people dream and feel that they are getting something that they are really inspired by. My point is that if we keep on being ourselves, being super creative and bringing excitement, I think that we can offer things that people will discover and appreciate, even if they are not tailored to their tastes.

Read more: Visual art and music meet in Shezad Dawood’s latest exhibition

If we start to do it the other way round and try to anticipate what it is that people expect, what they want or think they need, we lose our spirit and our soul. Of course, we need to listen to the younger generation, look at what they do, and how they behave to a certain extent. However, I don’t want to be obsessed with creating something that people will expect.

Find out more: solaireculture.veuveclicquot.com

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people standing together in different coloured outfits gathering for a photo with a pink champagne case
people standing together in different coloured outfits gathering for a photo with a pink champagne case

Left to right: Darius Sanai, Audrey bazin, Maria Sukkar, Frédéric Rouzaud, Rita Kamale, Nadja Swarovski and Brandei Estes

A crowd of the leading movers and shakers from the worlds of art and sustainability gathered at the Nobu Hotel in Portman Square to celebrate the Louis Roederer Photography Prize 2023, created by our sister company Quartet Consulting. High-profile guests included Guy Weston, Ina Sarikhani, Brandei Estes, Jessica Hodges, Maria Sukkar and Nadja Swarovski, among many others

A woman wearing a blue blazer and white t shirt holding a glass of champagne

Carrie Scott

A man wearing a hat with a beard on a screen next to a pink case of champagne

M’hammed Kilito giving his video message to the audience having won the award

A woman wearing a red top standing next to a woman wearing a black top

Left to right: Maria Sukkar and Ina Sarikhani

The Prize, now in its second instalment, was established by LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai and Louis Roederer CEO Frédéric Rouzaud under Quartet Consulting, to recognise outstanding contemporary photographers with a focus on sustainability and environmental issues.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Thirteen art world luminaries from across the globe were each asked to nominate three photographers to submit their works. An esteemed panel of judges including Maria Sukkar, Maryam Eisler, Brandei Estes, Alan Lo, Audrey Bazin, Nadja Swarovski, Sophie Neuendorf, Azu Nwagbogu and the Chair, Darius Sanai, then selected six entrants to make up the shortlist, which was then narrowed down to three finalists.

Three men wearing suits and the man in the middle holding a pink case of champagne

Left to right: Darius Sanai, runner up, Yasuhiro Ogawa and Frédéric Rouzaud

Three women standing together with two on either side holding champagne glasses

Left to right: Brandei Estes, Nadja Swarovski and Carrie Scott

three women standing with a man for a photograph

Left to right: Ilaria Ferragamo, Maria Sukkar, Franck Namy and Véronique Namy

This year’s finalists were the exceptional Hengki Koentjoro, M’Hammed Kilito and Yasuhiro Ogawa, each with a unique take on the awe-inspiring landscapes and tender humanity surrounding the issue of sustainability. They all received a magnum of Cristal, made by Louis Roederer from 100% biodynamically farmed grapes, and their work will be displayed at the White Box, Nobu Hotel Portman Square, London, from 11th May until 1st June.

M’Hammed Kilito was announced as the winner by Frédéric Rouzaud in the Nobu Bar to an excited throng of guests for his series ‘Before It’s Gone’, a meditation on the issue of oases degradation currently taking place in Kilito’s home country, Morocco.

an art gallery with photographs on the wall

The works of the finalists on display at the White Box Gallery at the Nobu Hotel London, Portman Square

champagne bottles in an art gallery

The Prize is run by the Fondation Louis Roederer to raise awareness around sustainability issues through photography

Upon receiving the award, Kilito commented: “I would like to say how absolutely honoured to receive the Louis Roederer Prize for Sustainability. I am so honoured to receive the Prize because I believe it is a very important one, highlighting the work of visual storytellers, and the issues of climate change and sustainability which are very close to my heart.”

 

Read more: Rock legend Graham Nash on collecting photography

Two men standing next to women wearing pink and red

Left to right: Durjoy Rahman, Darius Sanai, Audrey Bazin and Maria Sukkar

A woman wearing a red coat holding a glass of champagne standing next to two men in shirts and blazers

Left to right: Nadja Swarovski, Frédéric Rouzaud, Darius Sanai

A bald man wearing a scarf standing next to a women with her hair in a bun wearing a purple floral top

Left to right: Michel Ghatan and Helen Ho

The exhibition of the works of  M’hammed Kilito, Hengki Koentjoro and Yasuhiro Ogawa are on display at the Nobu Hotel London Portman Square until 1st June

 
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Reading time: 8 min
two chefs and a man in a suit holding glasses of champagne smiling at the camera
A bottle of champagne with flowers and butterflies on it

Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque 2013

Champagne house Perrier-Jouët teamed up with the Rosewood Crillon and legendary chef Pierre Gagnaire in Paris for a series of evenings to remember on its 120th anniversary. You could almost smell the scent of the engraved wildflowers on the art nouveau bottles, says Samantha Welsh

In a world where luxury brands are digging up whatever tenuous historical links they can find to burnish their heritage, it was both reviving and exhilarating to be at the 120th anniversary of something very tangible. In 1902, botanist and artist Emile Gallé decorated a magnum of Perrier-Jouët champagne with a spray of Japanese anemones, to symbolise the stylish, floral freshness of the wine inside.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The anemones became both the calling card of the champagne house, and a lasting symbol of the art nouveau influence on the flourishing Paris of the Belle Epoque, the first decade of the 20th century, when art and culture and gastronomy flourished in the French capital. In due course, Perrier-Jouët created its prestige cuvée – its luxury champagne – carrying the Belle Epoque name and the anemone engraving, and the rest is history, particularly for lovers of its poetic, natural, and complex yet subtle style.

A dinner table in a white and gold room with flowers along the tables

Nature is at the heart of the champagne house’s narrative

Now, 120 years after Gallé first created his design, Paris is once again flourishing as a centre of arts, catalysed in part by London’s exit from the European single market. And nature is once again at the centre of the luxury narrative, as the value of natural capital and the importance of nature-based initiatives become increasingly apparent in an era of climate change.

Meanwhile, two things haven’t changed: Paris is still the world’s centre of gastronomy, and the Crillon, now the Rosewood Hotel Le Crillon and run by the sophisticated, Hong Kong based luxury hotel group headed by aesthete and entrepreneur Sonia Cheng, is still its most spectacular address.

two chefs working in a kitchen with beige aprons

Pierre Gagnaire and Boris Campanella

So it was apposite that we – champagne connoisseurs, art collectors, thought leaders and media – gathered together at the Rosewood Le Crillon to celebrate the 120th anniversary last week. At a dinner cooked jointly by Gagnaire and Rosewood Le Crillon chef Boris Campanella, we started by selecting our own, personal, Belle Epoque era glass from an array of beautiful vintage glassware arranged on a table. We then bespoked the engraving on our own personalised bottle of Belle Epoque, from a choice of anemones, petals, butterflies and bees. In terms of the celebration of biodiversity, Perrier-Jouët was exactly 120 years ahead of time. (It also owns the largest private collection of Art Nouveau furniture and collectibles in Europe.)

people sitting around a table, having dinner with flowers in the middle

Celebrating the 120th Anniversary of Perrier-Jouët

The maison is very current as well, as the artist it collaborates with this year, Garrance Vallée, has created works showing the diversity and importance of nature, “Planted Air”, exhibited at a nomadic exhibition in Paris this month.

Read more: Thought leadership at the Cliveden Festival

None of this would have mattered had the champagne itself not been of the highest quality. But it was sublime, and the only challenge was – which do you prefer? As a standalone, one could only admire the purity, freshness, and breadth of the 2012 Blanc de Blancs Belle Epoque. But as a collaboration, when you have Gagnaire and Campanella in the kitchen, the pairing of the 2012 Belle Epoque Rose with dessert was, well, art.

Find out more: perrier-jouet.com

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A man in a blue jacket jumping over small hedges in front of a house
 A man standing next to a bleu canvas and a speech bubble on top of his with words in it

Jeppe Hein before a speech-bubble message and chalk panel, elements of the artist’s multimedia, interactive project for Ruinart Carte Blanche 2022, ‘Right Here, Right Now’

When Danish artist Jeppe Hein was given the coveted Carte Blanche commission by champagne house Ruinart, he was determined to create something quite different, by taking art-fair visitors back to nature and making an appeal to the senses. Candice Tucker reports

We are lying on the ground surrounded by by trees, breathing slowly, ever more slowly. The silence and peace is palpable. Stress ebbs away, nature flows through us. There is a gentle waft of incense and the sounds of the countryside.

It is a comforting, uplifting experience, probably about as far from the hubbub and glamour of an art fair as conceivable. And that is just what the Danish artist Jeppe Hein had in mind, when he took us on an excursion as part of his Ruinart Carte Blanche commission.

A man in a blue jacket jumping over small hedges in front of a house

The artist experiencing the Ruinart estate through the senses, part of the responsive idea of his Carte Blanche work

Carte Blanche is Ruinart’s annual series, begun in 2017, in which leading global artists are given, well, carte blanche, to create what they like (well, almost – there are some limits, we imagine), as a tribute to the historic champagne house. The artists’ resulting work, in this case Hein’s ‘Right Here, Right Now’, and a rolling associated art programme (of which we were part in this moment) then travel the globe to be showcased at the world’s greatest art fairs, including Frieze in London and New York, Art Week Tokyo and Art Basel Miami.

A smiley face drawn in white chalk on a blue panel

A chalk face drawn on another panel

At this point, as part of his project, Hein was taking us, an assembled group of the world’s art media, back to nature. We were at the Royal Pavilion at the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, a peaceful setting in a huge park on the edge of one of the world’s great metropolises.

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In that moment, he succeeded, and again, as the nature vibe continued over a meditative lunch in the Pavilion (vegetarian because, of course, the artist wanted us to commune with the world of plants and trees). By extension, the concept of sustainability continued with it.

A man in a white tshirt with a blue picture on it, looking into a mirror as he puts his hand into a hole in the wall

The artist at the exhibition

Nature, and a return to it, is a common theme in both Hein’s life and his often playful experiential art. He was raised on a biodynamic farm in Denmark, and his art has long explored the space between the natural world and what we make of it and from it. He famously declared burnout in 2009 and said he was going to slow down and reconnect with nature. He now lives by the Grunewald forest, a kind of equivalent to the Bois de Boulogne on the edge of Berlin.

People drawing on canvases in an exhibition

visitors contribute to the artwork with chalk drawings

Champagne, meanwhile, is a product of nature, but one that also needs the careful craftsmanship of humans. Unlike wine, it could not occur naturally, as it needs a painstaking second fermentation process in the bottle to become what it is. Ruinart is a champagne beloved of the world’s art collectors. On any collector’s yacht, you are likely to be served its Blanc de Blancs, an ethereal, delicate yet richly seamed creation made of Chardonnay grapes. At a soirée, you will likely be drinking Ruinart Rosé, with its undercurrent of summer berries and autumn woodlands from the combination of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.

A man in white t shirt drawing with chalk on a blue panel

Jeppe Hein makes his own mark on a chalk panel

Hein’s ‘Right Here, Right Now’ considers peace, the senses and interactivity in response to the world of Ruinart. At the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, 10 minutes from our lunch, installations included a column with a hole. Put your hand in and a raisin comes out: you must eat the raisin following specific instructions to ensure you appreciate each of your senses. In another column hole, there is a spray of perfume. There are also installations on a wall on which you can draw faces in chalk, so your own marks become part of the artwork – chalk makes up the underlying soil of much of the Champagne region, and is intimately associated with Ruinart. Further artworks feature speech bubbles that carry messages of mindfulness. There is an appeal to all five senses and all four elements.

A mirror speech bubble that says 'Be aware of your small sensations"

a speech-bubble message invites consideration of sensorial responses

The gastronomic side is equally important for Hein. And, we imagine, for Ruinart, as there can be few better accompaniments to very pure cuisine of the highest level than the highest quality champagne, with its clean direction and precision. Five leading chefs are creating a “gastronomic dialogue” with Hein as part of this “nomadic artistic adventure”, travelling during 2022 from Paris to London to Miami, and points in-between. “We invite people to experience Ruinart champagne, the chefs’ food and my art, at a totally new level,” says Hein.

A man wearing a blue jacket smelling a plant

The artist considers the scents of plant life on the Ruinart estate. Opposite page: work from previous Ruinart Carte Blanche projects

What does the artist himself think about what he is creating? “I was very inspired to go to Champagne and see so much creativity, precision and inspiration. There was a link to my own studio, to how I get an idea, or work around an idea and try to make models and express it and, in the end, it comes out. I fell in love with the champagne cellars – they have 11km of them. We walked along them, there was a yellow light and it was eight degrees or something. If you touch the walls they are wet. All these physical experiences got me totally engaged into trying to bring that feel to the art fair, to the experience of people there.”

Read more: An Interview With KAWS

‘Right Here, Right Now’ is, he says, “about the moment of being here. When you take the chalk in the interactive installations and start to draw, you are in the moment, not thinking too much. I’m trying a few things with the sense of smell, which goes straight to the brain and can reflect on something you smelt when you were five. Smell is always activating old memories, which I think is beautiful. When you’re working with all the senses, you can activate a lot of feelings. In my work, I’m not trying to be in your head, I’m trying to bring you into your body.”

It is a quite different experience to the usual art-fair hubbub; one perfectly enjoyed over a creamy, delicate glass of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs.

Past Masters

Since 2017, leading contemporary artists have responded to Ruinart via the champagne house’s annual Carte Blanche initiative. Here is a glimpse of some of the works

People made out of leaves in a field

Lui Bolin, 2018
In ‘Reveal the Invisible’, the Chinese artist created eight almost hidden works that considered the quiet tasks undertaken by workers to create Ruinart champagne.

 

A drawing of a blue bird with a red grape in its mouth

David Shrigley, 2020-21
Across 42 artworks, in ‘Unconventional Bubbles’ the British artist provoked witty debate about nature and raised awareness of the environmental challenges that motivate Ruinart

 

A green and yellow leaf

Vik Muniz, 2019
In ‘Shared Roots’, the Brazilian artist made a series of pieces using Chardonnay vines and other raw materials that form part of Ruinart’s transformative work

 

Find out more: ruinart.com/carte-blanche

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

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Reading time: 6 min
a fire coming out of a crater

Chloe Dewe Mathews, The Door to Hell, Turkmenistan 2012, from the series Caspian: the Elements

Our sister company, Quartet Consulting, has launched a new photography prize to highlight important issues in sustainability. We live in an era in which we are becoming increasingly aware that we can’t get something out of our planet without affecting something else – usually negatively. Farming is affected, as are many other sectors, and wine (and champagne) is a product of farming. Pesticides poison the ecosystem and threaten biodiversity, as does overcropping, exhausting the soil.

For more than 20 years the redoubtable Champagne house Louis Roederer has been engaged in a “renaissance viticulture’. This allows all the nuances of the Champagne terroir to be fully expressed, through massal selection, gentle pruning, and daily practices that respect the living environment. It also uses virtuous practices inspired by the permaculture model, which allow the ecosystem to self-regulate. These include the use of biodynamic composts, allowing the land to lie fallow for long periods, maintaining hedgerows and low stone walls, growing fruit trees and installing beehives.

mountains and a lake

Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah, Point In Time [Santa Inés Glacier, Seno Ballena]

Cristal, the House’s famed flagship label, has been produced biodynamically since 2012. And, in fact, Louis Roederer is considered a pioneer of sustainability in the region. However, they haven’t shouted about it: there’s no biodynamic label on Cristal.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Meanwhile, the family’s Louis Roederer Foundation in Paris has, since it was founded in 2003, supported emerging artistic photographers. So, it seems only natural that these two strands have come together in the inaugural Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability, launched in London this season by LUX’s sister company, Quartet Consulting. The prize brings together some of the most important art-world names. Among the judges are Azu Nwagbogu, the founder and director of both African Artists’ Foundation (AAF) and the Lagos Photo Festival; Maria Sukkar, an uber collector, whose ISelf Collection was on show at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2017; Brandei Estes, the director and head of the Photographs Department at Sotheby’s; and Darius Sanai, the editor-in-chief of LUX.

lit up trees and wheat in a field

Emergence (from Twilight Series)

The nominators, who selected the photographers for the judges, read like a hall of fame of the art and photography world, including the artist Shirin Neshat, Photo London founder Fariba Farshad, David Hill of David Hill Gallery in London, and the artist and photography curator Cheryl Newman.

Read more: Professor Nathalie Seddon On Biodiversity And Climate Resilience

The theme of the inaugural prize was Terroir, a French term used to describe how a region’s environmental conditions affect the production of wine – used here to showcase how photographers globally are using their art to capture issues relating to sustainability.

As the spotlight on climate change intensifies, a host of awards have tackled the subject through photography, including the Italian Sustainability Photo Award, among others. In 2017 the Foundation launched its Louis Roederer Discovery Award in conjunction with the eminent Rencontres d’Arles, the first international festival of photography.

yellow car seats behind a wooden steering wheel and a blue painting

Sahab Zaribaf, superannuation

“The Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability has come at the time when ecology, sustainability and a reimagining of our life methods need further interrogation and investigation,” explains Nwagbogu. “Every aspect of our contemporary life is improved or illuminated through photography, and I was glad to see so many talented artists recognised for their contribution to humanity and sustainability through photography.”

Read more: Artist Precious Okoyomon on Nature & Creativity

Sanai says, “it was both wonderful and disconcerting to be chair of the judges and creator of this magnificent prize. Wonderful, because the breadth and depth of creativity and execution in the art of photography was astounding. Disconcerting, because it is impossible to make a quality of judgement around such different but brilliant interpretations of the theme.”

a dog on a lead playing in the grass and flowers

Sian Davey, Untitled/WIP

Of the 26 entrants, we present below the six shortlisted photographers. The winner and two runners-up were announced in late spring. The winner will have their works considered for the Foundation’s collection, alongside a cash prize of £5,000, an exhibition at the Nobu Hotel Portman Square, plus some rather special champagne.

black and white image of a man and woman standing over a barbecue

Elizabeth Bick, Winter light

“The prize celebrates two of my favourite interests: the power of photography and a concern for our planet,” says Maryam Eisler, one of the judges.

Nominator Midge Palley on photographer Chloe Dewe Mathews

a book with pictures of mountains inside it

Chloe Dewe Mathews, Spread from the book In Search of Frankenstein 2018

I first met Chloe in a café in London, while trying to get her to take on a photographic project in Provence with me. She finally relented, despite her full schedule. Shoair Mavlian (a curator at Tate Modern) beautifully describes Chloe’s practice as exploring “ways in which photography can project the past onto the present, allowing for time to be expanded and contracted, and multiple narratives to be explored side by side.” I look at the images again and again to appreciate the beauty and intellectual depths of Chloe’s photography.

Judge Carrie Scott on photographer Elizabeth Bick

children sitting at a table eating strawberries

Elizaebth Bick, Wild Strawberries

It was the eerie familiarity, offset by a hyper-real aesthetic that drew me into Elizabeth’s compositions. Pair that with her mission to study the island of Fårö, and a people who live primarily off the natural resources of the land and sea, in a style that references Ingmar Bergman, and I was sold. Her style, in other words, is singularly cinematic and yet anchored in reality. That’s a place I want photography to take me to.

Nominator David Hill on photographer Jasper Goodall

green trees in a forest

Jasper Goodall, Cedars (from Twighlight Series)

Jasper Goodall’s work carries an elusive magic – his nocturnal images seeming to act like portals to another dimension. His is a very considered approach, not dissimilar to the work of the great American environmentalist photographers of the 20th century, but, here, viewed through the prism of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. The resulting images are strikingly beautiful and utterly contemporary.

Nominator Cheryl Newman on photographer Siân Davey

a girl standing in red underwear in a field

Sian Davey, Untitled/WIP

At a time when our relationship with nature feels increasingly fragile, Siân Davey’s project, ‘The Garden’, offers a space for reconnection and healing. Her portraits are an invitation to share the garden, created with her son Luke, abundant with wildflowers and butterflies. Her series speaks to our humanity, joy and our inherent need to nurture ourselves and our planet.

Judge Maryam Eisler on photographer Sahab Zaribaf

A boy wearing a black t shirt floating in water

Sahab Zaribaf, Inertia

I had never come across Sahab Zaribaf’s work prior to this prize. And I’m a great believer in first impressions when it comes to photography. Sahab’s work punched me to the core. It belongs to the language of visual poetry: ethereal and timeless, beautiful and painterly. It’s a language that seems to be memory-based, one where absence is more present than actual presence.

Nominator Adama Delphine Fawundu on photographer Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah

a close up of a brown plant

Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah, macrocystis pyrifera [Patagonia]

I am thoroughly impressed by Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah’s innovative approach to image-making. I am especially excited that her work fuels discussion and action around pertinent social issues, such as climate change and equity.

By Rebecca Anne Proctor

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 6 min
people gathered for a photo

Left to right: Frédéric Rouzaud, Maria Sukkar, Maryam Eisler, Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah, Carrie Scott, Brandei Estes, Darius Sanai

The Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability was launched in London last week, attracting some stellar names from the two fields to the new Nobu Hotel, for the inaugural awards evening.

The prize was developed by LUX’s sister company Quartet Consulting and Louis Roederer, the acclaimed champagne house behind Cristal, which it makes from 100% organic vineyards. The aim is to raise awareness of the sustainability issues facing the planet, using photography as an artistic medium.

Jasper Goodall and Frédéric Rouzaud

Cheryl Newman

Ina Sandmann Sarikhani, Alexandra Tilling, Richard Billett

Judges’ chair Darius Sanai spoke about the urgency and interconnectedness of the crisis of biodiversity and sustainability, and Frédéric Rouzaud, owner of Louis Roederer, presented the prize of  £5,000 and a magnum of Cristal to the judges’ choice of winner, Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah. Jasper Goodall and Sahab Zaribaf were equal runners up and also received a magnum of Cristal each.

Guests included Sir Guy Weston, Ina Sandmann Sarikhani, Maria Sukkar, and Ola Shobowale. Moving forwards, future editions of the prize will be developed by Quartet Consulting and the Fondation Louis Roederer in Paris.

superannuation by Sahab Zaribaf

a boat in the sea in front of a snowy mountain

Point In Time [Sanata Inés Glacier, Seno Ballena] by Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah

BirchWood (from Twilight Series) by Jasper Goodall

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Emilie Pugh

Booklets created about the Louis Roederer Photography Prize

Darius Sanai

The White Box space at Nobu Hotel London Portman Square

Carrie Scott

The exhibition of the works of Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah, Jasper Goodall and Sahab Zaribaf are on display at the Nobu Hotel London Portman Square until 29th May.

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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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luxury hotel
luxury hotel

The Royal Champagne is built into south-facing vineyards on the Montagne de Reims

In the final part of our luxury travel views series from the Autumn/Winter 2021 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks into Champagne’s newest and most luxurious hotel: the Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa in Épernay

If the devil is in the detail, the Royal Champagne is a devil of a place. In the best possible way. What detail to pick on? The barista-style Italian espresso machine in the room? The pale-leather welcome box containing a bottle of boutique Leclerc Briant champagne in an ice bucket, two champagne glasses and some fruit slices? The delicate mesh on the light wood occasional table? So many.

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In truth, Champagne has been in need of this hotel forever. I have been visiting the region on business and pleasure for years, and the choice has been between a couple of old-school country luxe hotels with little in the way of contemporary pleasures, and an array of functional places wholly out of keeping with champagne (the drink) and its image of indulgence.

From the very start, it’s plain that the Royal Champagne is something else: an indulgent hotel created with extreme love and style (and budget) by deep-pocketed owners wanting the best and hang the cost. (That is my impression, and I challenge them to prove me wrong.)

spa swimming pool

The pool overlooks the champagne vineyards of Épernay

You approach from Reims by driving up the Montagne de Reims, the forest-topped big hill with vineyards on both sides that demarcates the territory between Reims and Épernay, the two capitals of Champagne. Through the forest at the top of the hill, onto a lane through the vineyards, and the hotel entrance appears out of nowhere.

The Royal is built into the hillside, a contemporary building and a feat of engineering beside the historic building that gives it its name.

Read more: LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai on Effective Climate Action

Inside, everything is light, open. The welcome is professional and swift, and our room, like all of them, faced out over the vineyards, with a big balcony and vista down to Épernay and to the hills of the Côte des Blancs beyond. The balcony table shaped as a hollow-sided mini-barrel was particularly cute. Inside, everything was generous, light grey, cream, gold: the big bathroom has a sliding wooden screen to the bedroom so you can bathe with a view.

The temptation to hang out in the beautiful bedrooms is extreme but should be resisted. A couple of levels below, an indoor pool stretches the length of the main building of the hotel, all with picture windows out to the vista; there are beds on pedestals at either end to relax on, as well as more conventional loungers all around, and on an expansive terrace outside there are more chill-out spaces and an outdoor pool, warmed to cope with the north European weather, on the edge of the vines.

luxury hotel bedroom

Then there’s the aptly named Le Bellevue restaurant, with a vast terrace with a view, where you can choose from an array of specialist champagnes and – amazing for the region – choose from a light, modern, organic-based menu. Bulgur and coriander tabbouleh, baked monkfish with chard risotto, that sort of thing. And do yourself a favour and allow the sommelier to choose for you from one of the small-grower champagnes: you may never have heard of them, because they only sell locally and make in tiny amounts.

The Royal Champagne is so good that it could be a destination hotel and resort for someone not interested in drinking champagne. It manages the trick of being desirable for couples, friends or families without overwhelming with one. The service is brilliant without being corporate (it’s not part of a group) and like another LUX favourite, the Alpina Gstaad, it redefines contemporary hôtellerie. It really is that good.

Book your stay: royalchampagne.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

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rooftop dining
rooftop dining
Chef Alain Ducasse, who currently holds twenty-one Michelin stars, has teamed up with Dom Pérignon and renowned chefs Albert Adrià (one Michelin star), Romain Meder (3 Michelin stars) and Jessica Préalpato to create ADMO, an exclusive dining experience on a roof terrace overlooking the Eiffel Tower. Candice Tucker travelled to Paris to find out more

ADMO bills itself as an ephemeral restaurant experience due to the fact that it’s open for 100 days only, but it doesn’t really seem the right way to describe a fourteen course, multi-sensory menu, created by five of the world’s best chefs and paired with Dom Pérignon Rosé 2008. Decadent is the word that comes to mind and perhaps, a touch hedonistic.

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Situated on the top floor of Musée du Quai Branly, the restaurant has a prime position overlooking the Eiffel Tower, which as the clock strikes the hour, is illuminated by brilliant lights. Cynics might pass it off as naff, but it feels suitably sparkly for a champagne feast.

fine dining

The fusion of philosophy and food makes ADMO stand out from other gastronomic experiences. The menu specifically excluded meat products, to emphasise its green credentials. Being presented in a minimalist fashion, it further highlighted the importance for people to appreciate food for its refined quality whilst fully satisfying one’s appetite.

Read more: Standard Chartered’s Eugenia Koh on Next Gen Investors

The small tables and dim lighting, made the grand culinary experience, warm and intimate. Between each course, there was lively conversation amongst the journalists, food and champagne connoisseurs, but as each course was placed in front of the guests, the room fell silent. Every plate – notably, the crispy pastry sheet with red mullet and fried scales – provided an explosion of perfectly balanced, fresh flavours that were enhanced by the champagne pairing.

rooftop dining

© François Goizé

Speaking at the launch event, Alain Ducasse explained how each dish at ADMO aims to encapsulate a philosophy of sustainability (all ingredients are locally sourced except the caviar which comes from the north of Shanghai), suggesting that this will, increasingly, define the future of fine dining. “There will be more of these types of projects. There will be more attention on better food, thinking more about the food we can eat and food that is better for the planet,” he said. “I believe this is the roadmap [for the future] and it will not end.”

Vincent Chaperon, Dom Pérignon’s Chef de Cave, also commented on the importance of taking a sustainable approach: “I believe that if we focus on [sustainability], more people will embrace this approach. More doesn’t mean quantitative, it’s qualitative. This kind of project encourages people to recognise a new art of living [that centres around] our relationship with nature. We have to preserve and not only interact.”

If ADMO is a taste of what the future will bring, we’re very much on board.

ADMO is open from Tuesday to Sunday for lunch and dinner at Les Ombres au Musée du quai Branly. For more information, visit: admo.lesombres-restaurant.com

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Reading time: 2 min
vineyard on hillside
man in suit sitting on edge of table
Utsava Kasera is a next-gen portfolio entrepreneur who has put his faith in his latest investment: a premium Prosecco, aimed at shaking up the drink market in the UK and US. The Indian-born, UK-educated citizen of the world speaks to Anna Tyzack about his business portfolio across tech, fashion and hospitality, and his new direction in sustainability

Portrait photography by Charlie Gray

It was Phantom, Mandrake and Tintin comics, or rather the lack of them in India, that drove Utsava Kasera to start his first business at the age of 12. His group of friends were as obsessed with comics as he was, and as there weren’t many available locally, he started a small library. “When my father travelled to the big cities like Delhi and Bombay [Mumbai], he’d bring one back for me; if I did well in my exams, he might bring back two, and I’d rent them out to my friends,” he explains. “The library was a good lesson in entrepreneurship: where demand exceeds supply, there is always the chance to start an exciting business.”

It is this entrepreneurial spirit that has driven him towards his venture, an intriguing attempt to shake up the drinks market. While prestige champagnes have proliferated, and the market for the cheaper Italian sparkling wine, prosecco, has expanded, there has been no crossover between the two categories. Until now: Kasera has invested in a premium prosecco as a rival to champagne.

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The rollout of Ombra Di Pantera is now being driven in the UK. “The UK is one of the biggest markets for prosecco – more people drink it than champagne. And yet there are few luxury options, few competitors to grande marque, non-vintage champagnes like Moët et Chandon or Veuve Clicquot,” he says.

Ombra Di Pantera is the answer to this gap in the market – it’s the finest quality prosecco and will soon be available online and then in a select number of London’s bars and restaurants. “Our vineyards produce the most refined Glera grapes, used in the best proseccos, and the family in charge is passionate about production and cultivating and harvesting the grapes, and they have passed this passion and their techniques down through the generations,” he explains. The name pays homage to the Venetian term for prosecco, ombra de vin, ‘wine’s shadow’ – it is said that in ancient times the traders in Piazza San Marco kept the wine cool by storing it in the shadow of the Campanile. “Prosecco is faster to produce than champagne and it is drunk when it’s younger, but the best ones are exceptional,” Kasera says. “I’ve learnt from whisky that age doesn’t necessarily define the quality – it’s about the vintage and the methods of production.”

vineyard on hillside

The winery at Conegliano Valdobbiadene, Veneto

As with all Kasera’s investments and business ventures, the opportunity to create Ombra Di Pantera was a case of right place, right time. He was introduced to the Italian family who had been cultivating the beautiful Ombra Di Pantera vineyards for many generations and he immediately saw the potential. He had similar good fortune, he says, when he met Kevin Pietersen for coffee and soon signed up to invest in the cricketer’s ethical fashion label, SORAI, set up to preserve and protect endangered species; and when he met the founders of the Singapore private members club, 1880, in which he is now an investor and advisor.

Read more: Olivia Muniak on how collective dining brings us together

Kasera says his own father drilled into him early on that you make your own luck in life. From nothing his father built up a successful chemical company supplying the chemicals to manufacturers of a detergent that is now a well-known name in northern and eastern India, a market of hundreds of millions of consumers. As a boy, Kasera used to love hearing his father talk about his world travels and the people he met along the way. “In 1972 he flew to Afghanistan and hitchhiked to the Munich Olympics; in Munich he met a guy on a bus who he stayed with for the next three months; they stayed in touch and that same guy went to my sister’s wedding in India,” he says. “It’s stories like these that showed me how small the world is if you take the time to explore it. I knew from the start that a 9-to-5 job wasn’t going to be for me.”

tractor on a vineyard

At school Kasera was a sports star, being the city captain for table tennis and a keen cricketer. After graduating from university in Delhi, he studied at the London School of Economics and gained a master’s in international business and emerging markets at the University of Edinburgh. “It was overwhelming at first – the language, the curriculum and the different culture – but it was good experience for me; there were people from 26 countries in my class.” Along with gaining his master’s he made a cosmopolitan network of friends and learnt to appreciate whisky and cognac. He was recently listed on the University of Edinburgh’s Alumni 100, a showcase of its Business School’s most inspiring former students and is also now an advisor to the British Council’s Creative Spark Higher Education Enterprise Programme. “It’s great to be able to help motivate young potential entrepreneurs to realise their potential,” he says.

His main investment focuses are now tech, luxury and environmentally sustainable solutions; in 2011 he worked on a sustainability project in the chemical industry in Switzerland and Germany, fostering in him an interest in renewable energy. “It’s been a process of learning as I go along,” he says. “I’ve made some bad investments that didn’t turn out as I hoped but I’ve got a good feel for it now – it’s so rewarding when things go well.”

italian landscape

The vineyard where the Glera grapes for Ombra Di Pantera are grown.

The entrepreneurial landscape has opened up dramatically since he left Edinburgh, he continues, largely due to social media. When used intelligently, social networking platforms break down so many boundaries, he says, allowing entrepreneurs and investors to reach a huge audience without expense. “It enables things to happen out of the blue; it brings people and opportunities together,” he says.

Read more: Pomellato’s Kintsugi collection imagines a more sustainable jewellery industry

Some of the truly unique opportunities, however, are still found away from social media and screens, he says – the bourbon whisky that he discovered in Austin, Texas through word of mouth, for example, and the Pinot Noir he tried in Armenia that he says would rival a good red Burgundy. For entrepreneurial inspiration, Kasera thus aims to explore five new countries a year; so far this year he’s visited Armenia, the Seychelles and Northern Ireland and Georgia. He also reads extensively and makes a point of expanding his network wherever he is in the world, often choosing to stay in Airbnb accommodation or with friends rather than checking in to a hotel.

man leaning against fence wearing a suit

Unsurprisingly, the pandemic put a damper on his travels. While this was frustrating in many ways, forcing him to put investment and philanthropic plans on hold, the time at home helped him gain new perspective. “I like to be busy; I found myself spending a lot of time thinking about what I’m going to do in the future, what’s on the horizon,” he says. “I read the Difficulty of Being Good by Gurcharan Das, which is a secular reading of the great epic, Mahabharata. It relates so much to modern times, which I found very inspiring.” He also taught himself to cook, perfecting Indian-style scrambled eggs with coriander, spices and tomato, and, with Ombra Di Pantera in mind, completed a WSET level 1 online wine course.

As the world opens up again, Kasera is looking forward to Ombra Di Pantera’s unveiling in New York City, where he aspires to open a prosecco bar to give more people the chance to sample fine prosecco. “I hope it will be a brand ambassador for Ombra Di Pantera as well as hosting small pairing lunches and dinners,” he says. “I’d like to see Ombra Di Pantera inspiring a whole new area of luxury proseccos.”

What’s also sure is that it’s impossible to tell what sector new generation entrepreneurs like Kasera will be investing in. Sector-agnostic, and symbolic of his generation, truly global, he looks for opportunities that expand and stretch the luxury sector, increasingly with sustainability in mind. He remains tight-lipped about his next ventures, but I suspect they will be increasingly impactful in the new world of luxury.

prosecco bottles

 

The premium Prosecco

Ombra Di Pantera’s Prosecco Superiore Brut Millesimato DOCG aims to conquer the hearts of aficionados of champagne and other high-end sparkling wines, who may not previously have considered a prosecco. The Glera grapes that go into this wine are grown in the foothills of the Alps north of Venice, in an area with sunny days and cool nights. This gives a balance of ripeness and freshness. The result of hand-harvesting, careful selection of grapes and a personalised winemaking process is a sparkling wine that is creamy and light.

My favourite indulgence

“Depending on the time of day and the mood, it’ll either be a whisky or a cognac. As a ritual before dinner with friends, or if I’m admiring a view, I’ll drink a glass of Louis XIII 100-year-old cognac. It never fails to get me in the right mood. Whisky is a passion I share with my friends; we taste it together, we collect it and we exchange notes.”

Find out more: ombradipantera.com

Thank you to Nobu Hotel London Portman Square for providing The Nobu Penthouse for our shoot. Styling by Grace Gilfeather; grooming by Brady Lea (Premier Hair and Make-up).

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

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Reading time: 8 min
woman holding glass of champagne
woman holding glass of champagne

Vitalie Taittinger is president of the Taittinger champagne house. Photograph by Luc Valigny

Vitalie Taittinger took over her family’s champagne house in 2020. As well as controlling the creation of one of the world’s most celebrated drinks brands, she is actively involved in supporting emerging artists in France and elsewhere. She chats to Samantha Welsh over a tasting of some of Taittinger’s most interesting cuvées about art, luxury and, of course, her champagnes

LUX: You are closely involved with supporting emerging artists through the Fond Regional d’Art Contemporain (Frac) in Reims.
Vitalie Taittinger: Five years ago my father asked me if I could be the new president of Frac Champagne Ardenne. In the beginning I did not 100% agree because I have a lot of work at Taittinger. Six months afterwards, he was saying “everyone is so happy you have become president of the Frac Champagne Ardenne…” The president is in charge of all the political relationships, the one who challenges the vision.

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It’s very interesting because I love this project and to see the evolution of a project that was created forty years ago [by Jack Lang, the swashbuckling Minister of Culture under President Francois Mitterrand]. It’s a lot of work and it’s also very exciting because it’s very political: we are dealing with the minister and we are trying to make things happen in a good way, to protect the Frac and to push them to evolve. Art is one of the biggest motors in society because it is just full of inspiration coming from every culture, from every mix of cultures, so I think for the young generations this is crucial. I should note there is no link between the Frac and Taittinger except for the fact that I’m working every day and on both sides.

LUX: When you took over last year, did you have a grand plan or a strategy to change anything?
Vitalie Taittinger: I think that when you are in this kind of family company, changing would be a renouncement, so the aim is not to change; the aim is to go further into every detail of the elaboration of this champagne. I think that today, with the challenge of global warming and climate change, we always have to improve our way, to be very careful with the environment and to always think about how we can produce this quality of grapes which can also bring after the additional quality to the champagne.

two glasses of champagne

Image by David Picchiottino

LUX: The producer of one of the world’s most expensive wines became quite heated when we asked him if his wine was a luxury good: he said it certainly was not. Are you producing a luxury good? Is champagne a luxury good or are you producing an agricultural product?
Vitalie Taittinger: This is a luxury good, definitely. And it doesn’t mean that it’s not a cultural brand, but I think for me this is a luxury good. It depends on what you understand luxury to mean, but for me this is definitely the highest level of luxury. Also, the fact that we have so many years of experience and these are in the memories of the workers, we have everything which makes this experience different, exceptional and inimitable. To work for more than ten years on a project which we drink in one second, is crazy. The only thing you will keep with you is the memory of the instant.

Read more: Classic Ferraris and Lamborghinis galore at Salon Privé

LUX: Would you ever consider going back into the general luxury goods world, like your family did before? [Previously, Taittinger owned luxury hotels until the company was bought out by Starwood Capital in 2005; Taittinger family members purchased the champagne house back again in 2006].
Vitalie Taittinger: Maybe one day. It was a challenge when my father bought back the company and every day since 2006, we have put all of our passion and time into the company. Today, we are happy that we have done everything with passion, heart and youth. We are not financially driven; this is really a company which pays more attention and credit to humans than finance. Both are important; it’s relative but when we are thinking about our development our thinking is more irrational than rational.

woman walking through vineyards

Taittinger walking through her family estate’s vineyards. Image by David Picchiotino

LUX: Why are the French so good at luxury?
Vitalie Taittinger: We are not the only ones! I don’t know… I think we are structured, but what makes France different, I think, is the country’s relationship to the time; the history, the heritage; and the fact that when you are thinking about generations, you are not focusing on the ego; it is less about “I” and more about “how can I continue this history?” I find this interesting because you keep all the knowledge and the experience of the people that were here before; you are just reinforcing history.

It doesn’t prevent yourself from being who you are and to bring what you want to bring, but this knowledge is a kind of religion. People in companies like Taittinger are really proud of the knowledge they have in their hands. So, I think maybe this is why, but I don’t have the perfect answer.

The Tasting

Comments by Vitalie Taittinger

Taittinger Prelude Grand Cru

Taittinger  champagneThis is 50% Chardonnay, 50% Pinot Noir, all Grand Cru. This is our vision of Grand Cru, and you have a wine which is sculpted. You always have this energy, this freshness which you can find in the Chardonnay; light, delicate thin bubbles. It is pushed by the structure of the Pinot Noir; the two grapes are perfectly integrated; they are one. I think that all our wine is precise, super clean and in a way they are also speaking to the art which is for us very important. It has to be a pleasure!

orange and green champagne bottleTaittinger Les Folies de la Marquetiere

This is a cuvée which talks about the origins of the house, everything started in a little castle close to Epernay. My great grandfather was there during the war, and many years after, his brother-in-law called him and told him there is a castle for sale, one of the only ones to be surrounded by vineyards, and he went to the visit the castle, and this cuvée was first elaborated with the grapes around the castle. The idea with history and identity was to create a cuvée which looks like this castle, which gives the emotions that similar to when we give a beautiful dinner in this castle, from the eighteenth century.

It is a very small but beautiful castle so you have a warm, cosy feeling, you have a feeling of culture. The Folies is a homage to great moments, gastronomy and beauty; you have the richness, something which is warm, which is larger and at the same time, you find this minerality of the Chardonnay and the style of the house.

Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2008

This is a wine we do not do every year. It was created in the 1950s to pay homage to Thibault IV who is our ambassador of the house. For us, he represents the adventurous spirit, the poetry (he was a poet), and also the very smooth relationship between men and women, so in this character we find something which is very faithful and inspiring to us.

But there is a limit – we will never be able to produce a lot. We only take the grapes of the five villages in the Côte des Blancs, and with that we only use the first pressed juice, to have the purest juice, to be able to make it age in the long term.

This is a wine we will release ten years after we make it, and it’s also a wine you keep in your own cellars. We take only the best grapes from the Côte des Blancs, afterwards there is a little elaboration process which is 5% of the juices come from Chouilly (it is more bodied), just to have this precious taste. And what is special about the Comtes de Champagne is that when you are opening your bottle, when you are having your first sip, you have the first impression that the wine is a long one, and it has more than ten years, and as you keep it, it will become more warm; minute after minute you will be be able to smell all the aromas, they are totally fantastic. This is the life of the wine!

champagne rose bottleTaittinger Comtes de Champagne Rosé 2007

2007 was a beautiful year, strangely so: it was not a conventional one. In the grapes there was some tension, which was for us a very good sign because at the end you get a perfect wedding between both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, and you get something which is both structure and harmony. You have something which is very noble and very elegant. It has the red fruits, but it’s also very deep and it also has freshness.

Find out more: taittinger.com

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Reading time: 7 min
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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Reading time: 2 min
hotel bedroom with plush furnishings
chateau hotel

Photograph by Anne Emmanuelle Thion

In the final part of our luxury travel views column from our Summer 2021 issue, LUX editor-in-chief Darius Sanai discovers the subtle grandeur of Domaine Les Crayères in the Champagne region of France

If the method of departure from a hotel leaves a lasting memory, so too does a welcome. The luxury hotel where the doorman ignored you, or wasn’t there in your moment of need, is likely emblazoned on your heart. And the welcome at the Domaine Les Crayères was something else. It was a five-hour drive, roof down into the sun, from Baden-Baden to the outskirts of Reims in the Champagne region of France; after some moments of interest passing through (but sadly not stopping in) the wonderful hills of Alsace, the road was relentless. Crunching down the drive and drawing up to the grand mansion, I felt like nothing more than passing out on a cool bed for half an hour before an early dinner, ahead of my day of meetings the following day.

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The doorman whisked my door open and ushered me in; reception was a brief formality; all good. And then: “We would like to invite you onto our terrace for a glass of champagne, monsieur.” Really, I thought, like this? I was wearing black jeans and a polo, not evening wear. I was assured it would be fine. Still swaying from the drive, I walked out onto a broad terrace above a long stretch of parkland garden, was shown to my table and poured a glass of their champagne. Canapés appeared. The sun was about to set but still a few centimetres above the treetops; it was warm, and the terrace was scattered with lively and appropriately spaced couples. What had seemed like a slightly bad idea on arrival – shouldn’t you have a glass of champagne before dinner? – turned out to be a stroke of genius. A blanc de blancs champagne is reviving, not soporific, and when I finally went up to my room at sunset, I felt energised.

hotel bedroom with plush furnishings

One of the hotel’s elegant bedrooms

My room, at the top corner of the château, was elegant and elaborately decorated, with a view out over the same parkland. Although it is on the edge of Reims, the feel is peaceful: you have no sense of being in a big city, but nevertheless I walked to my meetings in the centre of town the next morning (full disclosure: it was a couple of kilometres each way, and I was working on my step count after a lot of driving).

Read more: Professor Peter Newell on why the wealthy need to act on climate change

You come to Champagne to drink champagne (or in my case to meet clients who own champagne houses), and you come to the Crayères for the best possible base while doing so – and to drink champagne and most of all to dine in its two Michelin-starred restaurant.

The atmosphere here, in its intimate dining room, was surprising in a positive way: it wasn’t so grand and formal that guests felt they had to dine in a hush. And yet the chef Philippe Mille and his creativity were very much front and centre. As well as à la carte, you can choose from various menus including an ‘Escape into the Vines’ menu. This was an astonishing piece of imagination and artistry, and so far beyond a mere manifestation of its ingredients that it would do it a disservice to describe it by the ingredients of each individual course.

fine dining dish

A foie gras dish from the two Michelin-starred restaurant at Domaine Les Crayères

There were seven courses, created to work in sequence like a story and woven together by a freshness and life so often missing from formal French dining where heavy saucing is a substitute for imagination. Oh, OK, I will describe just one of them: lobster from the Iles de Chausey, grilled on vine shoots, with shells juice (no typo there) and pinot meunier.

The champagne list – encyclopaedia, really – is extensive but what is really impressive is the selection of small-grower champagnes, many of them just farmers making champagne on their smallholding, many of them cheap, unavailable elsewhere and absolutely delicious. I do not usually seek the advice of sommeliers, finding them too often beholden to their own tastes or trends, but here, stay away from the brands you know, and seek one of these out. A unique and highly repeatable experience.

Book your stay: lescrayeres.com

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue.

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horse working on vineyard
black and white portrait of a man

Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, chef de cave of Champagne Louis Roederer. Image by MKB.

Louis Roederer’s Cristal is one of the world’s most glorious wines. Rich, powerful and full-bodied, yet delicate and effervescent, it is a blend of supermodel, Olympic athlete and aesthete, and has a history like no other champagne. It is also misunderstood, used as a status symbol, to the puzzlement of its makers, who simply see it as the pinnacle of organic winemaking. Darius Sanai meets Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, Roederer’s creator, to talk about the joys of fizz

“Sorry I was late, it’s very busy right now with the harvest.” Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon smiles as he pulls up a chair and sits down opposite me. We are in a wood-panelled tasting room at Louis Roederer’s HQ in Reims, the capital of champagne. Meeting the maker of Cristal at its home may sound glamorous, but all around is evidence that champagne is a drink created on farms, not a kind of luxury brand. My walk through Reims on this chilly autumnal morning took me past monolithic buildings and empty courtyards; the Roederer offices are on a quiet side street lined with warehouse-like buildings, centred around a courtyard which is pretty enough, but functional. People in galoshes stride around. Everyone looks focussed; the tasting room has a historic feel but also feels functional, with a row of empty wine glasses and a sink in the corner. We are drinking small bottles of water, not champagne.

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I came because I was interested in the story of Cristal, past, present and future. This is the champagne created in a clear glass bottle reputedly because Tsar Nicholas II was frightened of being poisoned (and presumably didn’t know about soluble poisons); it then gained a reputation as a nightclubber’s favourite, due to its price and distinctive packaging. And yet all the way through it has been revered by wine connoisseurs as a kind of insider’s top champagne: a wine lover’s champagne. Simultaneously unctuous and refreshing, ravishingly rich yet light, it has a complexity few, if any other champagnes manage to match.

Much of that is down to Jean-Baptiste, who is sitting suitably socially distanced as I start to ask questions, both of us secretly relieved that we are not doing a tasting at 9am to accompany the interview – he has a working day ahead of him, and I a drive.

champagne glass and vineyard

The character of Cristal is carried through from vine to glass as an expression of its terroir. Courtesy of Louis Roederer/Emmanuel Allaire

LUX: What is it that makes Cristal special? Is it a mixture of nature and nurture?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Yes. Place, the soil, is very important, but that is just one aspect. The winemaker is the link to the terroir, to the place. From this link between man and nature, one creates style, and we have had for a long time a clear vision for our wines. Cristal has a discreet power, it is elegant, it is soft, and then with time the more you taste it the more you realise how strong the wine is. The texture, the roundness, has to be delicious. And then, behind that, you have power, with length and ageing potential. You need time for Cristal – this is its secret. The link to place is in this sort of expression – not too powerful, not too clean, but just in between.

So, nature is of course important, but the way we farm to achieve that style of grape, is the key to Cristal. If we farm the same land differently, we will end up with a completely different wine. There is one champagne house, for example, which picks their grapes a week before ours. That is their vision, for the grapes to be not quite ripe. This is another expression of the same place, the same identity. Farming is at the front while nature gives us the elements. We are very lucky in Champagne, we have a unique mixture of climate and soil. We are between the ocean that brings water and the continent that brings dryness and heat. So, this complex matrix of elements all ends up in Cristal.

Read more: The gastronomic delights of Suvretta House, Switzerland

LUX: You have said that the 2020 vintage formed part of a trilogy of recent vintages. Can you say what you mean by this?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Yes, ’18, ’19 and ’20 make a trilogy of three beautiful vintages. And 2020 is amazing because there were the strange conditions, of course. 2020’s acidity is just in-between ’18 and ’19, and the alcohol levels and sugar content are a little bit lower than the other years, which makes a very elegant, clean, precise wine – the terroir, the soils, the place all speak very loudly. We had a dry July and August, but while many think the temperature is important, it’s not at all the issue with the vintage. In dry conditions, water only comes from the soil. It does not come from rainfall because there wasn’t any, so climate disappears from the wine’s taste. It is only the soil because the clay the vines are growing in does not react like chalk or sand. The problem is today that while everyone talks about climate change, which is good, it’s only part of our story. The main part here is about soil.

LUX: The way you make champagnes is quite different to many others in Champagne.
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Each one of our 415 parcels has a specific identity and is dedicated to one of our vintage wines. At Louis Roederer we craft the wine right from the farming of the parcel, which includes both vines and vineyard management. The result are ripe grapes customised to our style and fermented or aged in different vessels to keep the specificity of each parcel all through winter and our blending sessions. We do single-vineyard winemaking nine months a year to create the ultimate final blend.

LUX: And how important is what you do after the grapes are picked?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: It is very important in that you need to be super-present. It is a work of jewellery, like that of a Swiss watchmaker. You need to be very precise so as not to lose what you have from the vineyards. This precision is really my motivation, and it makes Cristal a bit different in the world of champagne. I do not want our winemaking to be too prominent. It has to be there, but it has to be completely transparent. My target is really to bring what I get from the grape into the bottle with a lot of care and subtle rebalancing of acidity by using leaves or oak, but I try to stay true to the vintage’s harvest. That is the big difference between Cristal and Dom Pérignon, for example, for whom vintage is less important than maintaining the Dom Pérignon style. We can accept Cristal being a little different each time if truer to the specific vintage. But don’t think we do nothing here – we do a lot. This morning I was smelling a lot of vats and tanks to make decisions about what to do, if we should rack it, if we should aerate it, and so on. We are really proactive, but we mustn’t put too strong an imprint on the wine.

grapes in a barrel

Courtesy of Louis Roederer

LUX: Is Cristal a fine wine like great Burgundy or Bordeaux, or is champagne always going to be ‘other’, somehow different to still wines?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: I believe the secret of champagne is that it’s a serious wine, for sure, but the bubbles make it different. It’s simply more than wine.

LUX: Our readers are wealthy consumers and collectors of wine, not necessarily technical experts in wine. Could you explain to a typical reader of ours what makes Cristal special?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Cristal is special because the terroirs it comes from are the best in Champagne, and its long-term performance since 1876 has been maintained and showcased year after year, demonstrating the quality of the terroirs and making it the oldest prestige cuvée in Champagne. Historically, Cristal comes from the best location in the region. It is not even the best cru and I am not saying that we have all the best plots, as we are in a neighbourhood with some very beautiful plots. But Cristal has these old, mid-slope vines; the mid-slope is perfect because you get the humidity from the top of the hill and the heat from the bottom. You get eternal softness. It is not extreme like the forest or the valley. When the weather is very hot the mid-slope is cooler, and when it is very cold it is warmer. Cristal is born in a very special place chosen specifically by the house, making it the ideal champagne. So, what can we do best here? Cristal, by the selection of plots, in the way we farm them and in the way we blend the grapes, is all about reaching this ideal of purity and finesse. And, as I was saying earlier, we really have a link to the place, we consider each crop of Cristal as a jewel, and our job is to maintain it to be the brightest and most beautiful as possible. It is precision, haute-couture farming in the choice of material and date of picking, making wines that are elegant yet powerful.

Read more: Brunello Cucinelli on cashmere and humanitarian capitalism

LUX: How does Cristal evolve with age, and what specific biochemical properties allow it to age well?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Because it is grown on chalky soils, with low yields and picked at good ripeness, Cristal has great acidity, low pH, a high concentration and a dry extract which are great assets for ageing over many decades.

LUX: A lover of Burgundy may be attached to a particular vineyard plot. Yet Cristal, while made from Burgundian grapes, is a blend of many vineyards. How does this work?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Because Champagne’s climate is more oceanic, so more unstable than Burgundy’s, champagne makers have invented blending of different parcels and villages to reach a better quality every year. It is not about consistency of style, but the best possible quality in a particular vintage. A blend of Cristal is a little bit like the blending of all the grands crus in Burgundy. Imagine making a blend of Corton Charlemagne, Montrachet, Bâtard-Montrachet, Chevalier-Montrachet, La Romanée, La Romanée-Conti, La Romanée-St-Vivant, La Grande Rue, La Tâche, Richebourg, Échezeaux, Grands Échezeaux, Clos de Vougeot, Musigny and Bonnes Mares, with the only condition being that the blend has to be a better wine than each one of them. That’s the way we think about creating Cristal.

LUX: What does sustainability mean to you?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: It means developing the excellence of the quality and identity of our wines, as well as the resilience of the biodiversity and climate of our vineyards’ ecosystems. It means reducing our impact on nature by decreasing our overall footprint by being as restrained as possible in all fields of activity and taking care of employees and consumers. In the end, there is, of course, an economic side as well, but innovation stands at the centre of what we do to make it all happen.

horse working on vineyard

Louis Roederer has 242 hectares of vineyards across the Champagne region, mostly given over to the pinot noir and chardonnay grapes from which all their vintage wines are made. Image courtesy of Louis Roederer

LUX: Specifically, what measures have you taken to counter climate change?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Since the beginning of life on Earth, the climate has been changing. It’s the essence of farming to adapt production and practices to this constant change. What is changing is the speed of this adaptation. We must focus on developing a strong resilience in our ecosystem so that it can cope in a fast-changing climate. We also need to innovate and try new things. And we need to decrease our carbon footprint to help slow down global warming.

LUX: You switched to organic farming in 2012. What difference has that made?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Yes, this is unique in champagne. Changing to organic production has delivered us a better conscience. I was talking about jewels and what I want for my jewel are the best farming conditions. I do not want to use pesticides or add things to my soils. It gives me and my team a good conscience to say we do things honestly, and that we do things for the next generation that are free of all excess chemicals. In the wine itself, it has really changed the alcohol/acidity ratio, which was exactly what I wanted it to do. It gives a little more ripeness, a little more strength and richer flavours. At the same time, a higher acidity, or lower pH, gives more freshness. Over the years, we have done much blind testing and we think we have got an extra texture, an extra aroma. Everything is a bit amplified. It has also pushed us to rethink our winemaking. We were fermenting our wines in a way that was traditional to the house, using sulphites and so on, but, thanks to organic farming, we have been able to reduce our sulphites and, in the case of chardonnay, to not use any sulphite at all, because the wines are stronger and they can take it. I think we have more resilient wines in the end, but it is too early to say. I think it will also increase the ageing potential of my wines because there is so much of everything. You know, with wine ageing you start with a potential and you lose a little bit and continue losing until the wine becomes static. But along the way there is a point of beauty where you get maybe less fruit, more texture and aroma, it becomes more complex with different umami flavours. I think we can extend this a little bit. This is nothing new because, in fact, champagne was organic before 1960, so all the champagnes from ’28, ’29, ’47, ’49, ’62 and ’64, were all organic and they aged beautifully. I am more into wanting the wine to last than immediate pleasure, but you need to find a balance and, in this, I am modern and classic at the same time – it has to be delicious, which is modern, but the classic demands that it lasts and be even more beautiful in 40 years. Maybe that is what Cristal really is, modern and classic at the same time.

LUX: Do you think that Cristal, and prestige champagnes in general, are taken more seriously now than they were 20 years ago?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: I think so, yes, and it is accelerating. What I call ‘label drinking’ is becoming less and less important. It still is, of course, but people are much better informed now. Unlike in the past, they want information, to hear what we say about the vineyards and how we make the wine. People are looking for more transparency, more honesty, more values in what they drink over and above just a label. Also, I think there is a very interesting price point, because when you make wine like Cristal, which is at a high level of quality, the price difference is quite big. If you look in the still wine world in France, I can see wine lovers and collectors who are now becoming champagne collectors. That is fantastic. Last but not least, champagne has really shown a lot of modern aspects which came largely from grower communication. In Champagne, it is not just Moët, Pol Roger and Bollinger; there are also small growers who do a great job and present completely different wines, and that is contributing to this exciting moment for champagne.

Read more: Superblue’s experiential art centres & innovative business model

LUX: Is there a typical Cristal drinker/fan/aficionado?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: That’s a good question. I know a few American and Japanese aficionados. They are often collectors of great Burgundy, but I am talking about a small niche of collectors, which is not the main market. We used to sell a lot on the nightlife scene in the 80s and 90s, but not so much anymore. Our main clients for Cristal now are restaurants and private buyers. So, I would say there are more wine lovers in general, but I also think that with Cristal, because it’s elegant and refined, it catches the attention of a lot of people who are not so much wine lovers. I remember a Californian lady telling me, “I just drink Cristal”. I asked what else she drinks, and she said, “Just Cristal, I love Cristal, I drink chardonnay”. It’s funny, because she was speaking about Cristal, but then about chardonnay. I think it shows that she wasn’t very knowledgeable but liked the softness and roundness of chardonnay, and she found this in Cristal with its elegance, lightness, chalkiness and minerality.

LUX: Do you feel that more people are now identifying as champagne connoisseurs?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: I think so. I meet more and more people who want to discover the experience of mature champagnes. It probably has to do with people finally realising the exceptional freshness and ageing potential of Cristal.

LUX: And do you think that, just as there are ‘cru-distes’ who are obsessed with the cru, that there are ‘Cristalists’?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: There are some. I don’t know how many cru lovers there are, nor do I know what their average age would be. I would see some ‘crudistes’ perhaps as older people, and most likely men, too. The old club, let us say. I think Cristal attracts more young people. When we do tastings, we do not want to do it for just the happy few but larger groups, too. In New York, for example, I do some very expensive tastings for the elite and we know them, I go to their place and I drink the wine with them, they are friends. But if we do more of an educational tasting, and if we can invite a few young people who maybe do not have the money but have the strong desire to experience it, I like it. This makes sense for our mission. We make the wine of today and tomorrow, not the wine of yesterday. When I bottle Cristal 2020 next year, it will be consumed on the market in ten years’ time. We need to look at these new generations, they are important, they should inspire us first. Thinking again about the classic tradition and modernity, it is good to find a nice balance between those two worlds, because we need to know where we come from, and we also need to have a vision of where we are going.

vineyards

Cristal 2012 was Roederer’s first vintage produced by fully biodynamic farming methods following several years during which the champagne maker, unique among other houses, gradually converted its vineyards to being organic. Image courtesy of Louis Roederer

LUX: Can Cristal be drunk by itself or should it be accompanied by food?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: It really depends on the Cristal that we are talking about, and it depends on my mood. Sometimes I can enjoy a glass of Cristal by myself and just drink it with no food, nothing, just relaxed. Or it can be matched with food. Roughly speaking, I tend to drink a young Cristal by itself or with seafood, such as crabs or oysters, those kinds of salty, light food that combine well with the acidity and the softness and fruit of Cristal. If I have an older Cristal, then it comes to gastronomy. And technically, with some you can try many things depending on the bottle. I did a tasting yesterday, because we are going to launch our Cristal Vinothèque in October. It is from ’99, so it is a 20-year-old wine. This is a wine to have with veal, with mushrooms, with something fleshy enough to withstand the Cristal. There is less carbon dioxide. I am surprised sometimes, when I am on a journey for instance, and somebody opens a bottle of Cristal with me to be drunk with a food that I would never have dreamed could be eaten alongside champagne. I remember in Hong Kong a few years ago I had some with snake soup, a combination I have never imagined, yet it worked well, it was crunchy.

LUX: Tell us more about the Vinothèque wines. Who are they for?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Vinothèque is another expression of Cristal with time. It’s more developed but it’s fresher, too. I believe this wine will meet the expectations of Cristal lovers and all lovers of mature Burgundies and riesling. It’s definitely gastronomic. My original idea, when creating Cristal Vinothèque, was that, in our modern world, even wine lovers who don’t have the patience to wait for 20 years before enjoying a bottle of wine, cannot know that in that time their taste may drive them to appreciating mature champagne. So, I planned to keep some bottles to make that experience possible for the impatient ones! In between, I found so many new aspects of ageing in our ‘laboratory of time’ that I have fine-tuned the project into what I have called ‘In Pursuit of Eternal Youth’!

LUX: Are there plans for any other Cristals? Single-grape or single-vineyard?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: Yes, we have some ideas. I have many triumphs in the cellar, where we are trying to do different things. Cristal stays what it is with the terroir and so on. Cristal is also pinot noir-dominated so it will always be a blend. We could not do a Cristal Vin de Blanc, or Cristal Vin de Noir. I don’t see the logic behind doing that or see it as being true to Cristal. We can work on different aging. If you want to play with pure chardonnay, we can create it. I have plenty of vineyards and we are planning to do something with them in the year ahead.

LUX: How did you cope during the pandemic?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: We didn’t stop. I kept working in the vineyards and the cellar. We put the marketing and the commercial teams in the vineyards. Everyone was part of the harvest. There is a team spirit at the moment. Today, we are experiencing a great moment, aside from Covid-19, something positive that we have never done before. But now we want our life back, to travel again, go to the markets, to Japan, the US, where we have vineyards. We have to start living with the virus and keep going.

LUX: What do you enjoy most in your job?
Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon: I like to be out there, in the vineyards, working hand in hand with nature, observing and taking the best from it to create something ultra-civilised. It’s all about transforming raw material into ultimate beauty and emotions. And it is important to me to know that the wine I create today will definitely survive me!

champagne bottle

Cristal 2012. Image by Emmanuel Allaire

“Six Vintages that express Cristal in all its glory” – Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon’s picks

2012: “After 20 years of exploration, research and conversion, the Cristal estate is fully biodynamic from the 2012 vintage onwards”
2008: “A legendary vintage, the ‘Cristal of Cristals’ ”
1999: “My first vintage as chef de cave”
1993: “This really showcases how good Cristal can be in a difficult vintage and how selecting the best plots from the 45 grand cru plots that comprise the Cristal estate each year is vital. The decision is dictated by the vintage conditions, so working hand in hand with nature, listening and observing is crucial”
1989: “A hot, ripe year but still with the tension and salinity that is the signature of Cristal, which comes from the terroir”
1988: “A cooler year that has developed well with a total contrast of style”

“These last two vintages show how much the region’s climate can vary from one year to the next with a clear impact on the style of the wine. The challenge is to make great wines from both.”

Find out more: louis-roederer.com

This interview was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 20 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.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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 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
woman with red hair
woman with red hair

Yayoi Kusama portrait with La Grande Dame x Yayoi Kusama Limited Edition © Yayoi Kusama

Contemporary Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama’s artistic impressions of Veuve Clicquot’s new vintage La Grande Dame 2012 pay tribute to the lasting influence and creativity of Madame Clicquot

After her husband’s death in 1805, Madame Clicquot took the reins of the eponymous champagne house. In era when women were excluded from the business world, this was an achievement in its own right, but she was also extremely good at her job, earning her the nickname ‘La Grande Dame of Champagne’. Two centuries later, Veuve Clicquot is paying tribute to her legacy through their latest vintage and a stunning artistic collaboration with Japanese contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama.

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Renowned for her flamboyant, quirky aesthetic, Kusama’s designs for the bottle and box incorporate flowers and her signature polka dot pattern in yellow, referencing the champagne’s bubbles, and expressing a sense of joy and energy.

floral sculpture

My Heart That Blooms in The Darkness of The Night, special object designed by artist Yayoi Kusama for Veuve Cliquot

polka dot interiors

Yayoi Kusama at Selfridges’ Corner Shop

She has also created an exuberant floral sculpture, in continuation of her Flowers That Bloom at Midnight series, that wraps around the champagne’s bottle. Available in only 100 numbered pieces (12 are available for sale in the UK), the sculpture is cast in fibreglass reinforced plastic and painted by hand in vibrant hues.

The La Grande Dame x Yayoi Kusama designs will be on display within the Selfridges Corner Shop in early Spring 2021. The limited edition is available to purchase online via: selfridges.com For enquiries regarding the special object visit: veuveclicquot.com

 

 

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Reading time: 1 min
two champagne bottles
two bottles

Ruinart recently launched its ‘second skin’ case, a stylish and more sustainable alternative to the traditional champagne gift box, as pictured above with the Brut Rosé NV and Blanc de Blanc .

Sometimes it’s the supplementary parts of art fairs that we miss the most. For yesterday’s virtual preview of Frieze art fair, we recreated the most excellent private Ruinart champagne event, which usually takes place this week, with a little tasting of their range at home

What will you miss most about the seminal Frieze London Art Fair moving this year from tents in Regent’s Park to an online-only existence, prompted by the pandemic?

Perhaps it will be the frisson of excitement of bumping in to collectors, curators and dealers from around the world expressing their way between the different booths at the pre-preview. Or maybe it will be the talks; or the onsite cafés, where can find yourself standing next to a museum director from LA and a young billionaire from Shanghai while sipping a cup of coffee and finding there is nowhere to sit and catch up on emails. Or, if you are fortunate, the buzz of the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management lounges, where collectors and private bank clients gather to sip on endless champagne and nibble perfect canapés.

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Then there is the physical art, of course. The two fairs, Frieze London and Frieze Masters, at opposite ends of the park, which at best offer an unparalleled art museum experience – a walk around Frieze Masters in particular affords a view of some of the most significant artworks in the world, perhaps on display for the last time in decades or centuries.

artist sketch

A print from David Shrigley x Ruinart’s ‘Unconventional Bubbles’ Series that was scheduled to feature in The Ruinart Art bar at Frieze 2020

We are missing all of that, but on a more social note, we also missed the brilliant annual Ruinart event in their VIP zone. This low-key gathering always brings together a selection of art collectors, artists, champagne connoisseurs and selected media, and feels very old school and decadent in offering an unlimited flow of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs in the late afternoon of the preview day.

Read more: British artist Marc Quinn on history in the making

For anyone who is a connoisseur of both art and champagne, it is also unique, as the champagne on offer at art events around the world is usually only marginally better than at fashion events, which is to say standard issue and not very interesting at all. The Blanc de Blancs is in a different league.

There was no Ruinart event this year, so LUX decided to create our own, by tasting a range of the Maison’s champagnes, with a couple of our favourite people, while clicking through some excellent artworks on a laptop. Needs must.

Our tasting notes are as follows:

champagne bottle

Ruinart Brut NV

Ruinart Brut Non Vintage
In years past, this was a slight and rather forgettable champagne. But, unlike the stick thin Frieze Art Fair VIP guests, it has gained a little weight in all the right places, without requiring any liposuction. Lean but muscular, it is eminently drinkable, and disappears quickly – like a Frieze VIP in search of a Julian Schnabel on the morning of preview day. Maybe not the most memorable companion but easy-going and easy to introduce to anybody.

Ruinart Brut Rosé
A little bit more spicy and fruity, as befits it medium pink palate. Good company, effortlessly enjoyable and also noticeable, not anodyne; and we never felt we had too much of it. Not flirty like some rosés, and not ponderous and serious like others. Just right, like a good art advisor.

green champagne bottle

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs 2007

Ruinart Blanc de Blancs
There is, in our view, no better daytime art fair companion than this. Rounded, well formed, well educated, with years of expertise behind it like stumbling on a fabulous sixties pop artist at an unexpected booth. Aesthetically pleasing and rich, like many preview day guests. Buy, buy!

Dom Ruinart Vintage 2007
In a different league altogether. Like walking into a VIP lounge at frieze masters and chatting to Gerhard Richter (note, this has never happened). Delicate, aesthetic yet serious and multilayered, a companion you could be with it all night and not feel weighed down, and you would seek its company again and again. Like a Richter, there is always something else to notice about it.

Dom Ruinart Rosé Vintage 2007
Have you ever bumped in to has Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Olafur Eliasson having a banter at the bar at the Christie’s Vanity Fair Frieze party at midnight? Nor have we, but we reckon this is what it would be like. Engaging, by turns delightful and intellectual, and with deal depth and rigour underneath the fun facade. An ideal guest to the perfect dinner party. Or art fair.

Darius Sanai

Find out more: ruinart.com

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Reading time: 4 min
afternoon tea
afternoon tea

Aqua Shard donates a percentage of the retail price of every Peter Pan Afternoon Tea to Great Ormand Street Hospital

Earlier this month, Aqua Shard in partnership with the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s charity GOSH launched a Peter Pan themed Afternoon Tea, inspired by J.M Barrie’s infamous tale. Abigail Hodges experiences the creative menu

Whilst admiring the stunning views over the Thames from the panoramic windows of Aqua Shard, a boat appeared on our table in plumes of billowing smoke. This wondrous craft cradled a creative exhibition of savoury and sweet treats: finger sandwiches wrapped in paper denoting the ‘Lost Boy Rules’, an ‘Enormous Mushroom Chimney’, The ‘Codfish’ Captain Hook cod brandade croquette (named after Peter Pan’s nickname for his nemesis), a Tinker Bell shaped cookie sprinkled with gold fairy dust, a deliciously rich chocolate swirl (representing Peter Pan’s Secret Hollow Tree Entrance) and a chewy Tick-Tock the Crocodile dessert of raspberry and rooibos jelly. We sipped Veuve Clicquot champagne alongside vanilla and rose ‘Darling Tea’, and finished the occasion with warm scones, which came hidden within a special treasure chest, accompanied by sweet apricot marmalade (or ‘mammee-apples’) and a rich coconut clotted cream. A delightful afternoon indeed.

For more information visit: aquashard.co.uk

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sushi platter
fine dining restaurant

Zuma London (pictured here) might have reopened, but for those cautious about visiting, the restaurant’s delivery service allows you to recreate the same experience at home. Image by Richard Southall

Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai tries out the new at-home delivery service by London’s hippest Japanese restaurant Zuma

Nowhere epitomises the (pre-corona) scene in London more than Zuma, the Knightsbridge restaurant that somehow doubled as a local neighbourhood go-to for lunches and birthday parties, and an international meeting and schmoozing spot for movers, shakers and people with the very best plastic surgeons.

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Like many restaurants, Zuma is open again but some clients are cautious about visiting; and the good news is that the restaurant can now be recreated in your home. OK, not the atmosphere, but you can do that.

sushi platter

sushi dish

Zuma sushi platter (top) and sliced seared tuna with chilli daikon and ponzu sauce

Our Zuma-at-home order was delivered personally by a smart chap from the restaurant, and was presented in beautifully designed logoed boxes. Sauces were presented separately, in cute little jars, clearly labelled, so they wouldn’t make the food soggy.

Read more: CEO of Zuma Sven Koch discusses the future of hospitality

Zuma is famed for its combination of Japanese cuisine styles, with a touch of its own, overseen by Rainer Becker, its creative heart. The Suzuki no Sashimi, very thin slices of seabass, yuzu, truffle oil and salmon roe, was a very welcome reminder of the delicacy of fine cuisine that is impossible to recreate at home (unless Rainer is your chef).

japanese dish

Grilled chilean seabass with green chilli and ginger dressing

A signature main course of grilled chilean seabass with green chilli and ginger dressing was a wonderful mental journey into the world of Zuma – and without the distraction of the crowds and buzz, tasted even better. And the spicy yellowtail with sansho pepper, avocado and wasabi mayo, another reminder of the originality and delicacy of Zuma’s art.

It all came with a bottle of their house champagne, Billecart-Salmon, a classy champagne for a classy meal. Just add some music, a group of guys and girls back from St Barth, a diamond-encrusted 16 year old having her birthday with her besties, and, voila, you have Zuma, in your home. And even without all of those, it’s a way of transforming your Friday night without having to get your kitchen dirty.

Find out more: zumarestaurant.com

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Reading time: 2 min
Country hotel
luxury historic hotel

The Lygon Arms in the Cotswolds dates back to 14th century

A couple of unspoilt Cotswolds rural idylls from the 14th and 17th centuries, a rare luxury hotel in Champagne with a touch of the contemporary, and the best place to stay in medieval Heidelberg, LUX recommends four historic country hotels to visit post-lockdown

The Lygon Arms, Cotswolds

THE LOCATION

Broadway is a Cotswold village straight out of central casting. This includes the tourists wandering down the exquisite High Street lined with low buildings of local stone, with the Cotswold Hills rising beyond. The colour palette of nature and history is a perfect sand yellow/deep English green.

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THE ARRIVAL

The Lygon Arms looks like a combination of coaching inn and hotel. You expect a ruddy-faced local, fresh out of the local country estate, to appear and help you with your bags, and that is exactly what we got. Parts of the structure of the hotel date back to the 14th century, and the feeling of a cosy history, lovingly recreated by its current owners, is all around you.

Luxury bar and restaurant

The Lygon Bar and Grill

THE STAY

Our room, the Charles I suite with a four-poster bed, was swathed in Tudor dark wood. We ate dinner in the courtyard at the Lygon Bar and Grill: the grilled chicken with chestnut mushrooms and tarragon was highly satisfying. The achievement of The Lygon Arms? To offer true history, nicely updated with casual contemporary service and simple high-quality food.

ANYTHING ELSE?

A 20-minute walk from the end of the High Street and up a hillside takes you to the Broadway Tower, from where you can view the invading Welsh armies swarming across the Severn River Valley. Behind the tower stretch the sweeping green uplands of the Cotswolds proper, with exquisite nature walks.

Book your stay: lygonarmshotel.co.uk

luxurious hotel bedroom

Le25bis is the first of its kind in Épernay

Le 25bis by Leclerc Briant, Champagne

THE LOCATION

It’s long been a matter of bemusement that you can spend your day being serenaded by a major champagne house in Épernay and then find yourself in a disappointing, generic hotel. Le 25bis, owned by a champagne house and refurbished in a luxurious modern style, promises to change that.

Read more: Driving from Alsace-Lorraine to Lake Constance

THE ARRIVAL

There is nothing quite like driving along the avenue de Champagne which radiates from the town centre. Le 25bis is fronted by a delightful courtyard with a few tables and as you walk to the reception desk, you walk past a couple enjoying a champagne tasting, a perfect scene setter.

bathroom

THE STAY

Le 25bis belongs to a well regarded boutique champagne house, Leclerc-Briant, which has a shop at the front of the house. After a long day of visiting champagne houses, there’s nothing quite like tasting the champagne made by your hotel. There are only five rooms, which are huge and have clearly been refurbished with little regard for budget, with pale contemporary furnishings with antique twists, aesthetic floral arrangements, intricate wallpapers and beautiful vintage-style (but very modern) bathrooms.

ANYTHING ELSE?

Make time to visit the Leclerc Briant house itself, and when buying from the shop at the hotel (our preferred cuvée was the eponymous entry-level cuvée, and the rosé was also delicious) make sure you buy in magnum. It is always better.

Book your stay: le25bis.com

Country hotel

Lords of the Manor is located in Upper Slaughter, a pretty hamlet in the Cotswolds

Lords of the Manor, Cotswolds

THE LOCATION

If The Lygon Arms is in the low Cotswolds, Lords of the Manor is in the high Cotswolds. To get there, you wind slowly through Lower Slaughter (probably Britain’s prettiest village, and that’s saying something), past an estate and into the hamlet of Upper Slaughter. Down a drive, there is a manor house with gardens dropping to a lake, and meadows and woods beyond. This view hasn’t changed much since Shakespeare’s time.

Read more: Fashion superstar Giorgio Armani on his global empire

THE ARRIVAL

Walking into the wood-lined great hall feels like arriving at a friend’s country house. You are taken to your room up a suitably creaking staircase. Ours looked out over the drive, lawn and lake, and was decorated in lavish country house style. All around was silence.

contemporary interiors

The bar at Lords of the Manor

THE STAY

Crunching through the grounds you feel like there is nothing more you would need from your English country estate. A walk across a little wooden bridge leads to a path alongside a stream taking you to Lower Slaughter, where you can slake the thirst in an inn. The dining experience at Lords of the Manor is very proper and British: venison and foie gras pithivier with creamed butternut squash and brandy sauce.

ANYTHING ELSE?

You could explore the many sites of this glorious region, but we wager you’ll stroll from the hotel on the secluded walks, and chill out on the hotel’s terrace with a glass of champagne, looking at the grounds, and do nothing else.

Book your stay: lordsofthemanor.com

luxury hotel bedroom

Grand Hotel Europäischer Hof is Heidelberg’s only five-star hotel

Grand Hotel Europäischer Hof, Heidelberg

THE LOCATION

Heidelberg, one of the world’s oldest university towns, lies at the edge of the Rhine river plain at the point at which it rises up sharply into the mountains of the northern Black Forest. It’s one of Europe’s prettiest towns, and also infused with a feeling of intellectual history – and current intellectual power.

Read more: How Hublot’s collaborations are changing the face of luxury

THE ARRIVAL

The hotel, the city’s only five-star property, is located on the edge of the old town, making it easy to get to when arriving by car or train. The family-owned luxury property is big and relatively modern. You turn into a grand driveway and are greeted by a uniformed doorman, and taken up some steps into the reception hall that leads to a jazz bar on the left and around the corner into a U-shape into a formal restaurant, the Kurfürstenstube.

hotel entrance

THE STAY

The hotel is grand and generously proportioned, as was our Executive Suite, which was light and airy with high ceilings, baroque-style furnishing in creams and beiges and rustic golds. While parts of the hotel are old, much of it has been built recently, including the large spa area. You will inevitably use the hotel as a base for visiting Heidelberg and beyond.

ANYTHING ELSE?

The hotel’s delightful concierge’s recommendations are now ours: the Kulturbrauerei, a centuries-old dining hallcum-beer hall with hearty, meaty cuisine and its own beer; and a walk down from the Königstuhl mountain, reached by a funicular.

Book your stay: europaeischerhof.com

Note: All reviews were carried out prior to the global lockdown

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 6 min
Landscape photography
Landscape photography

The view across the Rhine valley from Alsace’s Chateau de Haut-Koenigsbourg to Germany’s Black Forest.

LUX takes a journey from Alsace-Lorraine to Lake Constance, through a historic, beautiful, tranquil and gastronomic part of France and Germany that is curiously overlooked on the international tourist map

Location photography by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

There was a point at which, quite abruptly, the Autoroute A4, the east-west artery arrowing out of Paris towards Germany, became interesting. For hours before this point, we had been driving on a wide motorway flanked by flattish fields. Wind turbines and the occasional tractor were for the most part the only distractions from the monotony, with the exception of a brief section, near the city limits of Reims, where the vineyards of Champagne crept up an unexpected hill to our right. But the Montagne de Reims is better experienced in a glass than through the glass.

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An hour or so east of Reims, as if the gods of scenery had decided on a set change there and then, the highway swept to the left and up through a sudden forest on a long incline. The forest felt ancient, revealing glades and streams between its fronds, even when travelling at a cruise. There had been no warning of this scenery’s arrival, making it all the more compelling. In a few miles, a sign told us we were in the Forest of Argonne, known as the site of some of the worst battles of the first world war, and among oenophiles as the source of wooden barrels for some of the world’s great wines.

As if now trying to free itself from its straight-laced former self, the motorway writhed through a series of hills, along viaducts and across shallow valleys. We were now in Lorraine, technically part of the same, recently created region of Grand Est that we had been driving through for hours, but in reality a different part of Europe, historically, linguistically and, evidently, topographically. Lorraine, by itself or bound to neighbouring Alsace, is arguably as Germanic as it is French. Without crossing a border, we had changed nations.

historic building

Riquewihr, one of the historic villages on the Alsace wine route

We turned off near Verdun and followed a country lane that tracked a little river, turning left at a little junction and heading into the forest. Through a tiny one-horse village aligned along the road, and some wrought-iron gates, and we arrived at our overnight stopover, the Lodge Hôtel du Domaine de Sommedieue.

Read more: Why we’re dreaming of summers at Badrutt’s Palace, St Moritz

The reception area doubled as a restaurant, in an old building with a few tables outside, scattered across a lawn shaded by tall trees and bordered by a series of ponds. Our room, tidy, clean, well prepared and functional, was in a newly refurbished building a few metres away. The Sommedieue advertises itself as a fishing lodge, but we don’t fish, so we ordered a bottle of very good Côtes du Rhône from the receptionist/ waitress, who happily chilled out by the bar with her beau, with no pressure on us late arrivals to drink up and allow her to lock up. We drank the bottle, then another, at an outside table, alone with our thoughts and the plopping of fish, until a deep night-time absorbed us all.

lake with boats

Uberlingersee, the northwestern stretch of Bodensee (Lake Constance), in southern Germany, is an idyllic destination for summertime leisure visitors

The next morning the waitress had been replaced by the busy, jolly owner, who asked me which newspapers we would like. He placed a selection on a long wooden table inside the restaurant which he had festooned with a breakfast spread worthy of a still life: fresh, fat loaves, thickly sliced; home-made raspberry and apricot jam; slabs of butter; a bowl of apples.

We headed on, eastwards, through Lorraine, through forests and past rivers and lakes, still in France but with road signs reading as if they were in German: Harskirchen, Hirschland. Lorraine and neighbouring Alsace were at the heart of Europe’s history and wars for centuries, sometimes French, sometimes German, sometimes independent: they have seen peace only since the establishment of the forebear of the European Union after the second world war.

The town of Phalsbourg is bounded on one side by high wooded hills and on the other by meadows dropping down into the lowlands of Alsace. It sits on the border of Alsace and Lorraine, and we were there for its annual festival, the Festival de Théâtre. We arrived in the late afternoon, and walked into the central square, which with its gabled, almost Hanseatic architecture, feels like it belongs more to the Baltic than a country with a Mediterranean coast. We had a pizza on the terrace of one of the square’s handful of restaurants, while the festivities geared up; children and adults wearing the traditional red wandered by, eating candy floss and sipping on local wines respectively. A jazz band launched into a fabulous set as the day turned from gold to light blue to darker blue.

As the band finished, we climbed into the car and headed into the hills enveloped in deep forest and arrived, around midnight, at the Auberge d’Imsthal, a little inn set on a lake in the forest, ringed by hills. I sat on the balcony, listening to fish splashing and animals crashing through the forest, looking for shooting stars.

Church at night

Notre-Dame de l’Assomption church in Phalsbourg, a town in the hills on the border of France’s Alsace and Lorraine regions

The Alsace Wine Route carves its way across slopes lined with vineyards and scattered with Hansel and Gretel villages. The road is slightly elevated from the Rhine floodplain, and as you snake through the vineyards you see views of the deep blue mass of the Black Forest mountains. Halfway along the wine route, we stopped off at the village of Eguisheim, which sits amid its vineyards near the leading edge of a steep hillside leading up to the Vosges mountains.

Read more: Artist Marc Ferrero on his collaboration with Hublot

Eguisheim is tiny – the size of a city square in Paris or Madrid – but seems both eternal and infinite. Its narrow streets, lined by 500-year-old gabled houses, many of them in pastel shades, are arranged in an oval shape, with a breathtakingly bijou square with a fountain at its heart. We sat in a courtyard belonging to a wine producer and drank light, pure local crémant rosé sparkling wine, as the sky and the buildings changed colour and a cool breeze wafted down from the mountains as night fell.

convertible silver car

Mercedes S 560 Cabriolet

For our epic drive across Europe, we had a Mercedes S 560 Cabriolet, a big, handsome, luxurious convertible with seemingly limitless performance and the ability to whizz down any road in a ‘swoosh’ of power and smoothness. The armchairs cradled us like a jealous lover, and, with the roof down, their air-conditioning kept us chill when the sun shone, and warm at night.

The most memorable, and attractive, thing about the Swoosh-mobile was its effortlessness; the way you could fire it up and almost instantly be going at the speed limit, while it made bumps and bits of broken road disappear as if they were not there. So many fast cars these days are tuned as if they are going to be driven on a racetrack, riding down the road so firmly that you fear the movements on your expensive wristwatch will disassemble themselves every time you hit a bump, and making you fear for the integrity of the wheel every time you crash into a pothole. The S 560 is different: it is made to give its driver and passengers the most soothing drive possible, at a level of luxury that would have been inconceivable in a car only 15 years ago.

Read more: Entrepreneur Dr. Li Li on the importance of global relationships

If that makes it sound like the car is boring to drive, it’s not. There is a certain rakish, louche joy in whipping the roof down, cranking the concert-standard Burmester hi-fi up to high, and aiming down the road, elbow on window sill, the car emitting a deep, sonorous but quite muted gurgle. It responds well to changes of direction, not driving nearly as softly as its super-smooth ride would have you fear. Perhaps on a racetrack it would suffer against sportier rivals, but who takes this kind of car on a racetrack anyway?

It certainly didn’t suffer on the autobahn. Parts of German motorways remain free of speed limits, meaning that, once you spot the roadside sign telling you all speed checks are off you can go as fast as you wish without fear of being stopped or photographed by the police. As the autobahn descended from the Black Forest towards Bodensee (Lake Constance) on the final part of our journey, the no-limits sign appeared. The road arrowed straight down a gentle incline bordered on either side by meadows, with no junctions, and no traffic ahead of us. With the accelerator buried, and a rumble of chest-beating from somewhere inside the exhaust system, we surged, roof down, unstoppably, past an indicated 150mph in a matter of seconds. I finally eased off at 155mph when the wind above the open roof was at a severe hurricane level. The S 560 may be easy going, but it can also go.

car dashboard

Convertible sportscar

Such speed hastened our arrival on the shores of Bodensee, which is shared between three countries: Germany on its northern shores; Switzerland on the south shore opposite; and Austria at its eastern edge. Überlingen, on the German shore, is a small and historic resort town. That evening we strolled along the lakefront along a pathway festooned with gardens and small hotels, past the Strandbad (lake beach), where families were sunbathing, playing games and jumping into the lake, and to the centre of Überlingen. A row of cafes, restaurants and ice-cream booths faced the lake, alongside the pedestrian path; a passenger ferry docked, sending a mother duck and her ducklings into a tizzy and causing a passer-by to rescue a duckling which had jumped into a hole for safety. A ten-year-old brother and sister played trumpet and violin, quite competently, attracting a pile of donations for their bicycle fund. A mini beach-volleyball tournament attracted a small crowd, sipping local beer sold from a pop-up stand, on the waterfront. Überlingen is a special find, a tidy, beautifully preserved hark back to another era that feels all the more relaxing now because of it.

For our final overnight, we drove five minutes to the Park Hotel St Leonhard, on a gentle hillside, covered with meadows, orchards and vineyards, above the town. From the wide balcony of our room, the hill sloped down into the town towards the lake; across the two fingers of Bodensee, the lights of the settlements on the Swiss side lit up, the Alps forming a jagged graphic backdrop. The air was wet, herbaceous and grassy. This had been Europe, both new and old, at its very best; and sometimes true luxury cannot be measured by hotel stars.

Four Alsace wines to try

Alsace’s wines remain curiously undiscovered. Whites and sparkling dominate, all are fresh and sophisticated, some are sweet but others are dry, complex and fabulous value; and there are many good producers, keeping prices reasonable.

Domaine Trimbach Cuvée Frédéric Emile
Rich, rounded, but bone-dry riesling with layers of candy and lime. Fabulous wine and value.

Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Pinot Gris
Sweet but not cloying, packed with a thousand fruit salads and much more. One of the greats.

Bruno Hertz Crémant d’Alsace Rosé
Heart-stoppingly pure sparking pink, simple and delicious, tasting of summer forest.

Domaine Hugel Riesling
Somehow unctuous and dry at the same time, stony with kiwis; older vintages can age beautifully.

For more information visit: mercedes-benz.co.uk

Note: This trip was undertaken pre-lockdown. LUX paid in full for all the hotels in this feature. 

This article was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue.

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Reading time: 10 min
Drawings of bottles
Drawings of bottles

Drawings for Ruinart 2020, by David Shrigley

Glasgow-based artist David Shrigley is best known for his playful and humorous illustrations, which are often accompanied by deadpan captions, commenting on the banality of contemporary life. He was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2013, and has had major exhibitions at the likes of London’s Hayward Gallery and Manchester’s Cornerhouse. Here, the artist discusses his creative process, the interaction of language and his latest collaboration with Maison Ruinart

Portrait of man

David Shrigley

1. Tell us about your concept for Maison Ruinart?

The concept behind ‘Unconventional Bubbles’ is about taking the viewer on an enlightening yet playful journey of champagne production whilst enhancing awareness about the environmental challenges that motivate and drive Maison Ruinart on a daily basis. The paintings also consider champagne production on a symbolic level. Like the fact that it is a living product and that it is made from a plant that grows in the ground. It is subject to the elements: to the soil, to the sky, to the weather, to the bugs that either destroy it or facilitate pollination. For me, there are may interesting metaphors there.

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There is a certain magic to it too, in which the micro organisms that make the bubbles create the critical element of the champagne. I like the idea that it is something from nothing, that it has to be kept in darkness and all these things have to happen in darkness, that they happen in a cave which is found under the ground. If you described champagne production to someone who didn’t know what champagne was, who didn’t know what wine was, it would seem like some esoteric activity.

Then, there is the idea that champagne occupies a special place within beverages, one synonymous with celebration, synonymous with luxury. This association with celebration connects it to the beginning and ending of things: the beginning of a marriage, or the end of a project. I’m interested in trying to find these metaphors, and the poetic aspect within the story of champagne.

2. What did you learn from the experience?

This collaboration has given me the opportunity to learn something about the complex process of making champagne and to make art that addresses that, to find a way to say something about that process. It is a voyage of discovery: I had no expectations, other than to learn something. The process was to visit Maison Ruinart, to speak to the cellar master, to speak to the people involved in the production so as to understand more about champagne production within the larger operation, which everyone is very passionate about. For me as an outsider—as someone who has drunk quite a bit of champagne over the years, and enjoyed it, including Ruinart – I have never thought that much about its production or how it was made.

Painting of bottle in blue

Ruinart 2020 by David Shrigley

3. Your images are often accompanied by lines of text – how does language interact with your art?

The interesting thing about working with Maison Ruinart is that it is a collaboration. It is a project whose criteria are ideal for a fine art commission. In terms of how I normally create graphic art, I start with a blank sheet of paper and my job is to fill that space with whatever comes into my head. Usually there is nothing in my head when I begin so I often write a list of things to draw: an elephant, a tree stump, a teapot, a nuclear power station etc. I have a motto: “If you put the hours in then the work makes itself”. Maybe what I mean by this is that artwork (or a least, my artwork) occurs as a result of a process. That process for me is usually to draw everything on the list. Once those things have been drawn the story has begun; more words sometimes appear; sometimes just the words on the list; sometimes more pictures; until eventually the page is full and the artwork is finished.

When I tell people about this way of making work they are sometimes impressed (sometimes not) and they say that it seems as if the work “comes from nowhere”. Having thought about this at some length, I have come to the conclusion that this isn’t the case. Art is not the creation of something new but the creation of connections between things that already exist. In this case the connection between the things on the list and the words used to describe them. But as soon as you make a statement about what art is or is not you almost immediately realise an exception to that rule.

Read more: Princess Yachts CEO Antony Sheriff on a new generation of yachting

Anyway, when making art on the subject of champagne production, one must make several visits to the champagne region. One must visit the crayères and the vineyards and the production facilities and one must ask questions of the people who work there and listen very carefully to what they say. And most importantly, you must drink some champagne. It also requires a different list of things to draw: the vines, the grapes, the soil, a bottle, a glass, the cellar master, worms, the weather etc.

One of the problems (sometimes it’s a problem) with my way of working is that when I say things through my work (the text and the image), I often don’t really know what I’m trying to say; I say it and then try to figure out what it means afterwards. Maybe it is like when a child is learning how to speak. I like to think that all artwork is a work in progress; the meaning develops and changes depending on who views the work and the context in which they view it. Meaning ferments like wine. I realise that what I am saying about the production is perhaps not what the people I have met at Ruinart would say about what they do. Maybe they might even have a problem with it. But I think it should be acknowledged that the fermentation process has only just begun and it may be some time before it is finished, if ever.

I made one hundred drawings based on my experiences of being at the House of Ruinart. The message conveyed through champagne and the brand is important. I need to start with those things. I made illustrations based on text and found a way to incorporate them into the work. But with the majority of the drawings, an image came first, and I thought about what the text should be after.

4. What role does humour play in your practice?

I guess years ago I was always keen to stress the work was incidentally funny and that I was trying to be profound and comedy was just a facet. Over the years I’ve come to realise that comedy is very important. The issue is people expect you to be funny all the time. I’m always keen to stress I’m not a comedian and I am an artist, which negates my obligation to be funny all the time. Comedy is really special and sublime. To explain why something is funny sort of pours cold water on it…

Globe

Ruinart 2020 by David Shrigley

5. How has the current global crisis affected your creativity?

I worked alone from home on smaller formats anyway so I’ve been making drawings for the last six weeks or so. I just worry about other people at the moment. Some of the work I’m producing now is influenced by the ongoing situation – or at least when I put it out there the viewer will associate it with that.

6. What do you miss?

I miss seeing friends and going to the football.

View David Shrigley’s portfolio: davidshrigley.com

 

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Reading time: 6 min
Stainglass windows lining a corridor
Portrait of a man against a white background

French designer Philippe Starck. Image by JB Mondino.

Legendary French designer Philippe Starck gives Mark C. O’Flaherty his radical vision of the future: a time when designers won’t be needed – and maybe even chairs

“I’m not interested in aesthetics anymore,” says Philippe Starck, sipping on a glass of mineral water in the Royal Academy in London. “I am interested only in our evolution, and how the intelligent craft of human production is going to be rerun by dematerialisation. We are working on making things disappear.” As Starck speaks, I notice the periodic flashing of a red LED from beneath the skin on a fingertip of his left hand. It’s extraordinary. I ask him what it does – is it connected somehow to his laptop, perhaps? “Ah, it’s magic!” he says, cryptically, before steering the conversation to his ongoing project with the Roederer champagne house: “I never wanted to just design a bottle, I wanted to share in the making of what was inside. And it was about creating something that had less in it, nothing added, no sugar.”

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We are at the Royal Academy for the launch of the new Roederer-Starck 2012 rosé champagne, where he is judging a competition between 13 artists at the Academy’s Schools to interpret the taste of the champagne through their art. His choice of winner – a white-on-white embossed spiral on paper called Cycles, by Sofía Clausse – is apposite for his ongoing philosophy of design: “It was the most accessible piece,” he says, “It was simple. It captured the spirit of champagne, which to me isn’t a wine, or a reality, but an idea.”

Contemporary plastic chair against white background

Starck’s AI Chair for Kartell

When the world first caught sight of Philippe Starck’s work in the 1980s, the Parisian-born designer had been creating products for a new way of living. He was changing the vocabulary of interiors, rephrasing the language with futuristic accents on everyday items. His choice of materials was aggressively different from the tradition of French design – he selected transparent plastics, metallics and pop colours. He was as New Wave as the cinema of Luc Besson and Jean-Jacques Beineix and of the architecture of Jean Nouvel. Today, at 70, he is one of the most prolific designers who has ever lived, having created literally (his studio can offer no official number) countless products from clocks to yachts. Today, he still works on an average of 200 projects a year. And yet, as he tells me, he believes that “fifteen years from now, thanks to technology, every material obligation will have disappeared.”

Read more: Chaumet’s CEO Jean-Marc Mansvelt on historic innovations

How does a designer who has been apocryphally credited with 10,000 products balance his current view of a future with nothing in it, with his business model? “The business element will shift,” he says. “We debuted the AI chair with Kartell at Salone del Mobile in Milan this year, and it was the first of its kind ever to be created with artificial intelligence. AI is going to create a new freedom in design. With AI, we can now ask any question, but it’s all about knowing the right question.” He also sees a time beyond furniture. “Design as we know it will be dead,” he says. “There will be better solutions to sitting down than a chair. I think a chair has always put you physically in a bad position. We can do better than a chair.”

Stainglass windows lining a corridor

The entrance to the Starck-designed L’Avenue restaurant at Saks Fifth Avenue, New York, with stained glass by his daughter Ara

Starck has always been radical. In 1984 he created the interior for Café Costes in Les Halles. With its theatrical blue staircase and oversized minimal clock, it was as much a postmodern landmark leisure-time interior as Ben Kelly’s Haçienda in Manchester, and Arata Isozaki’s Palladium in New York City. All were created in the same decade, but Starck’s project was notably more dramatic because of its location. This was Paris, a city still stuck in Belle Époque aspic. French design was frozen in curlicues and froth. Starck was an iconoclast.

Contemporary artwork hanging on wall

Photograph of wine glasses

Entries to the Brut Nature competition from Royal Academy students, with (top) The Philosophers’ Reserve by Max Prus, and (here) Tidally locked by Olu Ogunnaike

After a series of successful Paris interiors, he was aligned for a long period with Ian Schrager’s fantastical hotel projects, bringing some of the eccentric visual flair that Schrager and his late business partner Steve Rubell brought to Manhattan nightlife with Studio 54. There was a fairytale, supersized element to much of what he did, from elevated swimming pools to triple-height billowing curtains. From the Royalton in Times Square in 1988 onwards, their partnership helped take Starck’s name and distinctive, witty style to the world.

Read more: Founder of Nila House Lady Carole Bamford’s guide to Jaipur

While his peers, including Marc Newson – who currently holds the record for a design object at auction after one of his Lockheed Lounge chairs sold for over £2 million in 2015 – focused on rarefied edition pieces, Starck focused on mass production. A rare blue glass Illusion Table sold for $50,000 a decade ago, but Starck is known more for his alien-looking Juicy Salif lemon squeezer – which first appeared in 1990 – and continues to be one of Alessi’s best-selling products of all time. At one point, the company produced 10,000 gold-plated versions, purely for display in the home (lemon juice discolours the surface). His transparent plastic chairs for Kartell – the La Marie, which launched in 1999, and the Louis Ghost armchair, which debuted three years later – are as instantly recognisable as any piece of furniture ever made. They brought avant-garde design to the mass market. But when plastics are being demonised, do his polycarbonate objects belong to the past? Starck remains a passionate cheerleader for the material. “For me, it’s the only way to achieve the quality product I want,” he says. “There is a great difference between single-use plastic and a chair that you can keep for a century or more. The media has created great confusion. I prefer to work with fossil energy than to cut down trees and I would rather use vinyl for upholstery than kill cows.”

Woman spitting fountain of water against black background

Artwork etching with mulitcolours

Two further entries from Royal Academy of Arts students to the inaugural Brut Nature competition judged by Philippe Starck, with (top) Self-portrait as a Champagne Fountain (2019) by Clara Halstrup and (here) Sun on the coast of the moon by Richie Moment

One area in which he, and indeed most of us, remain guilty in terms of the unfolding climate crisis is in carbon emissions from flying. But Starck is one of the busiest designers on the planet, and for someone who still uses pen and paper and tactile models to create (“If you create using a computer, you are just creating within the frame of the guy who created the software!”), he needs to appear in person for projects. The day after we meet, he has to get up at 4am to catch a plane to Milan where he’ll be for a few hours before flying off again, heading further south. “It’s fine – I am so used to it,” he shrugs. “I once went to Seoul from Paris for three hours.” At 70, he shows no signs of slowing down, but when he takes time out, it’s the most understated resort he has ever designed that he likes to head to. “I like lots of places I have been involved with,” he says, “but the one I really love is La Co(o)rniche in the Bay of Arcachon near Bordeaux. It’s really just a few cabanas on top of the Dune de Pilat, the highest sand dune in Europe. You are there looking at the waves and the sunset and it feels like the best place in the world.”

The choice of a fairly rustic, nay, Zen destination ties in with his world view right now, and his intention to both continue democratising design and make it vanish. Just as he believes the future is chair-free, so he believes our everyday tools and indeed all of our furniture will go. “Designers won’t dictate the aesthetic in the future,” he says, “it will be down to your coach and dietician, because telephones and computers will disappear and everything we use will be incorporated within the body. We will be naked in an empty room, and we will be able to conjure flowers or whatever we want from nothing.” As Starck gesticulates, the red LED flashes on his finger tip again. “So, come on, tell me…,” I ask, “is that part of the new cyborg tech you are talking about?” He smiles. “Oh, this? I got it from the Harrods toy department. Fun isn’t it!?”

Louis Roederer and Philippe Starck

Champagne bottle and caseThe recent launch of the 2012 Roederer and Starck rosé champagne marks 13 years of the designer’s collaboration with the French family-owned champagne house and maker of Cristal. Starck has been involved in each step of the production, including, of course, the champagne’s packaging. From the first brut-nature product in 2006, the champagne has been created sugar-free, with zero dosage. As Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, Roederer’s chef de cave  says: “We have used nature as our collaborator as much as anything with our work with Philippe – it is organic, with minimal intervention and a focus on the real taste of champagne. This came from our discussions with him.” The presentation attempts to democratise the luxury product – it looks more like a chic bottle of olive oil than a grand cru. The hand-lettering on the label and box and the rough line of fluorescent pen creating the edging makes it look effortless. As Frédéric Rouzaud, president and family scion of Louis Roederer says: “It represents spontaneity. He wanted a simple paper for the label, and just wrote by hand what the product is. He wanted it to be approachable, to speak to everyone.”

Find out more: louis-roederer.com & starck.com

This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 Issue.

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Artist portrait of a branch
Artist portrait of a branch

Flow Diptych, Part 2 of 2 by Vik Muniz, for the 2019 Ruinart Carte Blanche commission and installed at the Ruinart Art Bar at Frieze London 2019

Brazilian photographer Vik Muniz has responded to Ruinart’s Carte Blanche commission by going back to the roots

“A photograph marks a moment in time,” says Vik Muniz. We sit surrounded by his latest photographic series, ‘Shared Roots’, in the Ruinart champagne bar at the 2019 Frieze London. “One way or another, everything fades and everything ceases to be. Photography is one way for you to hold on a little longer.”

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The Brazilian-born artist is fascinated by the fragile materiality of photography. “Visual technology broke a membrane, and the image became autonomous from any material relationship,” he says. “Our relationship to facts is getting more and more problematic. The idea of information, the idea of representation, is completely disconnected from tangibility, from facts. Psychologically, that has an effect. And, I chose to go in the opposite direction and make things that we have not lost. They require physical presence, they are heavy, even though they’re photographs.” The photographs around us are rooted in this physicality. Muniz used wood and charcoal to create temporary sculptures of hands clutching gnarled vines, captured in overexposed, grainy monochrome. “There is an architecture when you make art,” he says, “I find it quite pyramidal. The base of it has to be optical, haptic, sensory, perceptual. You have to have a physical reaction to it.”

Find out more: ruinart.com

This article was originally published in Spring 2020 Issue.

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Cinematic still featuring a bottle of champagne
Bollinger event with men in suits

Michael G. Wilson & Etienne Bizot from the Bollinger Family at Hotel de Crillon, Paris

Last week, Champagne Bollinger celebrated the 40th anniversary of its partnership with James Bond with a special event in Paris and a new limited-edition release

On Thursday evening last week, Champagne Bollinger welcomed the producer of the James Bond films Michael G. Wilson as guest of honour in Paris to celebrate the brand’s 40-year partnership with the legendary film series. Hôtel de Crillon played host to an exclusive list of invitees in celebration of the partnership, which dates back to 1979, when Bollinger became the official champagne of 007 upon the release of Moonraker.

Cinematic still featuring a bottle of champagne

The character Jaws opening a bottle of Bollinger R.D.1969 in Moonraker

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Champagne gift set with luxury silver box

The Moonraker Luxury Limited Edition by Champagne Bollinger with a gift box designed by Eric Berthes

Following a speech by Bollinger’s chairman Étienne Bizot, the brand launched its latest release ‘The Moonraker Luxury Limited Edition’ complete with a space-shuttle shaped gift box designed by Eric Berthes and inspired by the shuttle originally created by production and set designer Ken Adam. Guests enjoyed a first taste of this 2007 vintage against a backdrop of design sketches and stills from the Moonraker film.

Find out more: champagne-bollinger.com

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People admiring artworks in a gallery
People admiring artworks in a gallery

Guests admiring the shortlisted artworks on display in the RA’s life-drawing room

The launch event of Louis Roederer’s Brut Nature 2012 saw twelve students from the Royal Academy of Arts artistically interpret the new zero-dosage cuvée. Here, we recall the evening

Bottles of champagne and a glassEarlier this month, champagne house Louis Roederer and renowned French designer Philippe Starck presented the inaugural Brut Nature prize at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, which invited young artists to interpret the brand’s new zero-dosage release through their choice of artistic medium.

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The evening was hosted by Starck, Louis Roederer’s CEO Frédéric Rouzaud and chef de caves Jean-Baptiste Lécaillon, who announced Argentinian artist Sofía Clausse as this year’s winner for her work on paper Cycles. The artwork – an endless, growing spiral, cut from paper and rolled through a press to create an embossed effect – was made in response to the processes and style of the Champagne Brut Nature, and displayed in the RA’s life-drawing room alongside the eleven other shortlisted artists.

Girl holding trophy and bottle of champagne

Winner Sofía Clausse (standing next to her artwork Cycles) was presented with a case of Brut Nature, £3000, and a visit to Louis Roederer in Champagne

Clara Hastrup‘s artwork Self-portrait as a Champagne Fountain and Olu Ogunnaike‘s Tidally Locked also received special mentions for their unique and surprising interpretations.

For more information visit: louis-roederer.com

 

 

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Louis Roederer International Wine Awards
Louis Roederer International Wine Awards

The 15th edition of the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards took place at the Royal Academy of Arts, London

Last week, the 15th edition of the annual Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards took place at The Royal Academy of Arts in Mayfair. Chloe Frost-Smith recounts the evening

Bottle of champagne being poured into a glassWine experts and distinguished guests sipped glasses of Louis Roederer Brut Premier NV champagne, admiring an exhibition of works from the Artistry of Wine Award shortlist against the backdrop of a full-sized copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s mural painting The Last Supper and the Royal Academy‘s collection of Greek and Roman sculptures.

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The winners were announced in the amphitheatre that forms part of the RA’s remodelled wing, and prizes were presented by Charles Metcalfe, the Chairman of the Judges and award-winning wine author. This year, more than 200 entries were received from writers from 23 countries. Karen MacNeil, a regular contributor to the likes of Decanter, won the new award for Consumer Title Writer of the Year, which recognises wine writing beyond specialist titles. Photographer Leif Carlsson was awarded the Louis Roederer Artistry of Wine, Malu Lambert was named the Montblanc Emerging Wine Writer of the Year and Andrea Frost won the Marchesi Mazzei Wine Columnist of the Year.

Grand staircase and archway of a museum building

Read more: Richard Mille’s Alpine athletes Alexis Pinturault & Ester Ledecká

Esther Mobley of the San Francisco Chronicle was named the Domaines Ott* Wine Feature Writer of the Year and Simon Woolf received the Domaine Faiveley Wine Book of the Year for Amber Revolution, while US wine importer and writer Terry Theise won the Chairman’s Award for his book What Makes a Wine Worth Drinking.

The evening concluded with an informal tasting session in the RA’s Collection Room, allowing guests the opportunity to experience each sponsor’s sommelier selection in the most sophisticated of atmospheres.

To view the full 2019 shortlist visit: theroedererawards.com

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Vineyards pictured at night with orange sky
A woman jumping in a vineyard with a basket full of grapes

“I worked in nature as if it was in the studio. The vineyards seemed to me a very poetical, mysterious and playful environment.” – Marie Benattar

Louis Roederer makes what might just be the world’s most famous champagne, Cristal, and a range of others all renowned for their sophistication and complexity. Less known is the family-owned company’s visionary art foundation, and foray into the luxury boutique hotel industry. Darius Sanai speaks to CEO and 7th-generation family scion, Frédéric Rouzaud, about photography,
art, hospitality, and almost everything except champagne
Man in a suit and glasses standing in a hotel

Frédéric Rouzaud

Travelling from the heart of London to the heart of Paris is, in some ways, like stepping from one luxury universe into another. In Mayfair, every conversation is about money – what’s for sale, what’s being sold, who might buy what. A brand is a currency, there to have its value inflated and sold on to the next wheeler-dealer.

Paris may be the home of the global luxury industry, but despite this, or perhaps because of it, it is – mostly – not considered appropriate to have the same conversations. For every private equity group buying and selling companies like card sharps distributing aces, there is a celebrated company (don’t call them brands) that has been in family hands for centuries.

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This is one of the first thoughts that flows through my head when I meet Frédéric Rouzaud in a hotel lobby in the chi-chi 16th arrondissement. Through the Maison Louis Roederer, Rouzaud may be the family owner and CEO of one of the world’s most celebrated luxury brands – who doesn’t know Cristal, after all – but it’s apparent that this thoughtful, understated and gently smiling gentleman in a dapper suit is a different breed to many modern CEOs. Louis Roederer is a Maison, not a brand.

Photography by Michel Slomka

We settle in quickly to an easy conversation about art, and in particular photography. Recently, Louis Roederer invited young abstract artistic photographers to create images of the champagne house, its cellars and grounds, giving them carte blanche to interpret whatever they wished, however they wanted.

The results, which have never been publicly exhibited, are published on these pages. But Rouzaud, who expresses an enthusiasm for photography and 20th and 21st century art, is doing so much more in the world of art through the Fondation Louis Roederer (a private foundation), and has a plan to develop a collection of luxury boutique hotels. Here is a polymath who is plainly not interested in being pigeonholed. And, of course, the Louis Roederer brand owns several wine estates and makes some of the world’s most celebrated champagnes – not just Cristal, which needs little introduction – including a personal favourite, the complex yet ethereal blanc de blancs.

Abstract photography of women in white dresses

“I found in champagne perfect elements related to dreams… it appears as a perfect opportunity to explore a fairy direction.” – Marie Benattar

LUX: Tell us more about your hotel projects?
Frédéric Rouzaud: We bought our first hotel last November, in the Alps in France. A hotel seems far away from the wine world, but not so far when you look for a long-term strategy that you need to have for hotels. Like for wine, it’s about the French ‘art de vivre’. It’s about gastronomy, the experience and wine. My idea is to create a small boutique hotel collection, and also by having some private houses open to private consumers who would like to live a very nice experience around wine in our different properties. [Outside of Champagne] we have wine properties in Provence, Portugal, two châteaux in Bordeaux, one in California. The idea is to create a small collection either by buying hotels like we did in the Alps or by creating some hotels within our winery sites, which are generally very nice places to stay.

Read more: Wes Anderson & Juman Malouf curate an exhibition at Fondazione Prada

LUX: Will there be a particular aesthetic?
Frédéric Rouzaud: We will try to make people feel comfortable and at home. We will work with some designers that have this sense of conviviality, [to create] a nice experience. We will adapt to each place – the style, the sense of the place. It will be a five-star hotel that is casual and comfortable, family friendly.

Vineyards photographed at night

“I worked at night by the light of the moon. I have aspired to build mirage images in order to reveal what can not be mastered by man, the very power of nature. The artificial lights were developed to unmask ghostly presences, unreal scenes, dreamlike horizons.” – Lucie Jean

LUX: There is a very powerful partnership between your Maison and the art world. The photography for the prize that you do is very abstract. Is that something you initiated yourself and how has it grown?
Frédéric Rouzaud: The story started 20 years ago, when we met the president of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France. They have a fantastic collection of more than five million images – old photographs from the beginning of the creation of the photography – but they didn’t know what to do with it because they are more book-orientated. So they asked us if we would be interested in helping them show the fantastic collection to the public. That is how we started our collaboration, and we did a lot of very nice and interesting exhibitions there. We sponsor all of the exhibitions and they are fantastic. It is a very serious, rigorous and interesting collection of photography with plenty of artists.

Aerial image of a woman sitting on curved steps

“Views from above of the symbolic interiors of Roederer were completed with images of starry skies from the vineyards. This face- to-face seemed to us to be a poetic metaphor for what champagne represents, a kind of cosmic union between earth and sky.” – Simon Brodbeck and Lucie de Barbuat.

LUX: What about the young photographers we feature here?
Frédéric Rouzaud: We asked the Bibliothèque Nationale de France to select for us eight or ten young photographers who went to Champagne; there was lots of creativity and they decided to photograph Roederer as their own perception.

LUX: What did you think of what they did?
Frédéric Rouzaud: I think it was great. I think it was so different and their approach was phenomenal.

LUX: You must have a personal passion for photography to give it such support?
Frédéric Rouzaud: I am interested by art and photography – because photography is really a contemporary art form. I think it is approachable for people who sometimes do not understand or find it difficult to approach contemporary art. Photography is always approachable, understandable… and I see a big future, a big potential for photography. It is a very nice, aesthetic art.

Vineyards pictured at night with orange sky

“The intervention of man gives a very graphic aspect to the vines. I sought, through the strength of this vegetation and nature,
visual haikus which would plunge us between the lines from what is immediately visible.” – Lucie Jean

LUX: Do you collect photography yourself ?
Frédéric Rouzaud: I have some, I don’t only collect photography – I collect many things. I buy lots of intuition and inspiration (laughs). I am not a collector in the sense that I buy everything, I am more for going into galleries on the weekends/ auction sales to see what is going on – I can buy photography, a chair, a lamp…

Read more: Geoffrey Kent on travelling beyond the beaten track

LUX: Does your foundation have a physical home that people can visit?
Frédéric Rouzaud: No, not yet. The purpose of the foundation is to help institutions and museums like Palais de Tokyo and Le Grand Palais to show to the public their fantastic collections. I think we are much more for that approach rather than to say, ‘Hey, look at my foundation, look at my collection, come and visit it.’ We are a small company, we are more for helping the French big institutions, like Bibliothèque Nationale, trying to choose the artists that really talk to us in a way – that is the first point. The second point is the different prizes that we have created now; we like to discover new talents. That is really the two things helping the institution with known artists – because there are lots of artists who we have sponsored who were known, but we also like to give prizes to new talents.

Dark image of a woman in the night picking grapes

“For me, photography is a way to discover and observe the world, to embrace its complexity without feeling too much gravity. It is also a way to take time, spend it and even try to stop it.” – Marie Benattar

LUX: Is the private sector becoming more important in supporting art?
Frédéric Rouzaud: Museums don’t always have the means to do these exhibitions for the public so they seem very happy to have that kind of foundation to help. I think it is very important, yes. Even if in France it is less usual to have funds from a private company or foundation like it is in the UK, it is very normal. But I think it is coming and definitely there are never enough funds to help art. If the approach is quiet, organised, long-term and focused on what we like, I think there is no reason that it doesn’t work, because again in our approach we are more behind museums that have the savoir faire, the connection. We prefer to be maybe a little bit behind the scenes.

LUX: Are wine and art similar?
Frédéric Rouzaud: Of course, there is a link. But I always say to my team, ‘Don’t consider yourselves artists. We are not artists. We are artisans, dedicated to nature, trying to interpret each year what nature likes to give us: climate, size of grapes, concentration…’ And we try to make, modestly, with that, a wine that we sell. Artists have total freedom. We don’t. We have to ferment the wine, we have to press the wine, it has to be vigorous. It’s close to the artists’ work – but we don’t have the freedom. The only thing you have to do as an artist is express what you have in your head. So there is a very natural link between the world of wine and the world of art, but we are not artists.

Portrait of a woman standing in front of a pink wall

“The need and the desire to create cannot be explained. It’s like a breath, a small voice and sometimes even a cry that animates you and takes you to creation.” – Laura Bonnefous

LUX: Is it true to say the world of wine is more objective than art?
Frédéric Rouzaud: Yes, in the world of wine we have to follow rules, some tools, some gestures. In art, you do what you want – you are much more free. We are free in the way that we are free to search the best soils to plant the vineyards, we are free to search the best way for pruning the vineyards, the way of fine-tuning our grapes, our methods, our pressing process, our fermentation, our storage – we are free for that. But at the end of the day, the focus has to be a bottle of wine that is appreciated by the consumers. An artist, if he makes something and it pleases collectors, it is good. If it doesn’t please them, it is fine also!

Read more: Spring Studios’ Founder Francesco Costa on building a creative network

LUX: With wine, is the product the most important thing? Or the brand?
Frédéric Rouzaud: (Laughs) The brand comes after the product, in our approach. We do small quantities, small production in our own vineyards. We don’t buy grapes, we don’t buy wine, so it is a small production and we produce a small quantity of wine – not enough for the world and we are fine with that, because we don’t know how to do more at that level of quality. For us the brand is more a Maison; it is a family-owned company and we make a product the best way we can and if it becomes a brand, fine! But we are not trying to make a brand and then make the product. We were founded in 1776 and my brothers and sisters have done a great job to make a brand today – called Roederer – but still the team is really not in that approach of branding. We are really behind our product, behind our vineyards.

Men throwing buckets in vineyards

“A Cristal bottle is transparent; I tried to make the production process transparent by highlighting the talented people working in the vineyard, the cellars, the factory, the office…” – Sandra Reinflet

LUX: Tell us why you chose Val-d’Isère for your first hotel?
Frédéric Rouzaud: Why Val-d’Isère? This resort in terms of value, authenticity, purity of skiing… it really is the resort in France, if you like to ski. I like to ski and I have been to lots of resorts in France. After testing Val-d’Isère you will be disappointed if you go elsewhere – if you like to ski. Plus the fact that it is a historic hotel, one of the first of the resort, and it belonged to a family – the same family who built the hotel.

LUX: How important is China for you?
Frédéric Rouzaud: It is small yet. We are very strong in Hong Kong, but China is quite small at the moment. First, we do not have the volume. Second, the market is very young. Sometimes champagne is considered as goods which should be offered for parties. I don’t know why – champagne as a commodity. In an emerging market like that you have to sponsor a lot if you want to be in some places and we are not in this game, because we do not have the volume. We have such a respect for the wine itself that we don’t like to give it for free. We only do it sometimes, as a special prize.

LUX: We were talking about biodynamics…
Frédéric Rouzaud: We are running the Cristal estate in Champagne, 100% biodynamically, it has been ten years now so we are very happy with it. I am not a technician, but I have tastes; the grapes and maturities, the balance of the grapes concentration, acidity, level of alcohol – and it is working very well.

LUX: What difference does it make to the products when you make it biodynamically?
Frédéric Rouzaud: It is difficult to express but I think it gives it more vibrancy, more life in the wine.

Find out more: louis-roederer.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue

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Reading time: 12 min
Polo players mid match with sticks raised
Polo pitch with mountains in the background
This weekend Hublot’s high altitude polo tournament returns to the Swiss resort of Gstaad

Gstaad annually plays host to the world’s ‘highest’ polo tournament, Hublot’s prestigious Polo Gold Cup in which four world-class teams battle it out for the winning prize of Hublot’s Big Bang Steel Ceramic watches. This year will see Clinique La Prairie, Gstaad Palace and Hublot‘s teams try to overthrow last year’s victorious captain Cédric Schweri (the Swiss restaurateur) and his Banque Eric Sturdza team who have been unbeatable since 2017.

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Meanwhile, spectators will celebrate in style sipping at glasses of champagne or bottles of bottom-fermented Swiss beer against the backdrop of the snow-capped Alps. For VIPs, there’s the Gala Night dinner, and exclusive closing lunch, followed by the finale and an afternoon prize-giving ceremony hosted by LVMH watches CEO (and LUX columnist) Jean-Claude Biver.

All photography by Kathrin Gralla at the 2018 tournament

The Hublot Polo Gold Cup runs from 22 -25 August 2019. For more information visit: polo-gstaad.ch

Two polo ponies being held by a groom

 

Two polo players in conversation on their ponies

Polo players mid match with sticks raised

Polo player with his hat raised

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Reading time: 1 min
Orchestra in performance
Female opera singer mid performance in a blue Arabian style dress

Opera singer Anna Netrebko portraying Adriana Lecouvreur, wearing a costume encrusted with Swarovski crystals. © Swarovski/Thomas Steinlechner

LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai attends the premiere night of Adriana Lecouvreur sponsored by Swarovski at the Salzburg Festival

Darius Sanai with Nadja Swarovski

LUX had a wonderful time at the weekend at the Salzburg Festival’s premiere of the choral opera Adriana Lecouvreur, featuring the astonishing Anna Netrebko, probably the greatest singer in the world, in the title role. Netrebko’s voice was a performance in itself at the Grosses Festspielhaus in Salzburg, powerful, emotive, an orchestra without an orchestra.

Follow LUX on Instagram: the.official.lux.magazine

Our editor-in-chief Darius Sanai enjoyed some engaging chats over Louis Roederer champagne afterwards with Nadja Swarovski, who sponsored the show, and various members of the Swarovski family and their friends.

Swarovski also provided the crystals for the costumes worn by the leading roles – and Netrebko in a stunning green gown adorned with crystals that seemed to radiate beams of light, in the first act, was particularly memorable.

Utterly fabulous, and Netrebko’s was a performance for the ages.

Find out more: salzburgerfestspiele.at and swarovski.com

Inside a costume making workshop

The costumes in making (here and below). Image by Thomas Steinlechner

Artistic sketch of costume dress

Opera singer in an orange dress in performance

Anna Netrebko in performance. © Swarovski/Thomas Steinlechner

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Reading time: 1 min
Dinner table laid out with champagne bottles and antique plates
Dinner table laid out with champagne bottles and antique plates

Hotel 1729, a one-bedroom hospitality concept designed by Ruinart x Jonathan Anderson

This week, Ruinart opens the doors to a one bedroom luxury hotel concept created in collaboration with fashion designer Jonathan Anderson
Man stands leaning against a pillar with the plaque 1729

Designer Jonathan Anderson outside Ruinart Hotel 1729

Last year, it was designer Tom Hingston and Primrose Hill. This year, Ruinart’s pop-up hotel is the creation of fashion designer Jonathan Anderson inside a Notting Hill townhouse. Named Hotel 1729, guests can check-in for a one-night only experience hosted by the champagne house’s Maître D’, Olivier Livoir.

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The dining experience is the focal point of the evening, designed to cater for up to eight guests in total, who will be taken on a sensory culinary exploration through Ruinart‘s history. Whilst the exact details of Anderson’s concept are kept strictly secretive, his main inspiration comes from a recent visit to the Ruinart Maison, and the 1735 artwork Le Déjeuner d’huîtres (The Oyster Lunch) by Jean-François de Troy which includes the first appearance of a champagne bottle in painting.

Antique painting of a huge chaotic feast in a stately home

‘Le Déjeuner d’huîtres’ (The Oyster Lunch) by Jean-François de Troy (1735), Musée Condé (Chantilly, France)

The menu itself has been specially created to perfectly pair with Ruinart cuvées by Chef Luke Selby, who previously worked as head chef at Ollie Dabbous’ HIDE. All drinks and courses will be served using antique glassware and ceramics from the 17th century, the same era in which Ruinart was established.

Curious? So are we.

Hotel 1729 in Notting Hill, London is open from Thursday 4 July until Sunday 14 July 2019. For more information visit: ruinart.com/en-uk/news/ruinart-hotel-1729

Rates: £1200 for a one night stay for two people including chauffeur transfers in partnership with BMW, dinner, breakfast and a selection of Ruinart Cuvées. Hotel residents can invite up to six guests to share the dining experience at an additional £160 per person.

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Reading time: 1 min
Ballet dancers in performance with a male lead
Portrait of Philippe Sereys de Rothschild sitting in front of a stone mosaic

Philippe Sereys de Rothschild photographed at the Grand Mouton residence

Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, head of the Mouton Rothschild family wine empire, recently inaugurated a new prize for the arts. Darius Sanai celebrates with him and his family members on the night of the awards, and speaks to him about patronage, the wine world and running one of the world’s most celebrated family businesses

Photographs by David Eustace

It’s a cool, clear evening in the vineyards of the Médoc, the triangular strip of land that stretches from Bordeaux to the Atlantic Ocean, along the estuary of the Gironde river, and which contains the world’s most celebrated wine estates. From the terrace of Château Clerc Milon, rows of perfectly groomed vines stretch out to the left and right; immediately below the terrace, a lawn drops down along a path lined by exotic bushes, to a steel-and-glass marquee. Beyond this temporary structure, which was erected the previous day and will be gone by morning, are more vineyards, undulating up towards Château Mouton Rothschild, over the brow of a small hill.

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Bordeaux vineyard close up shot of green vines

The Mouton Rothschild vignoble in Pauillac

As the sun goes down, guests sip Rothschild non-vintage Champagne or glasses of deep red Château Clerc Milon 2009, chatting about the show they have just seen. Suddenly, there is a musical introduction and all heads turn towards the stairs leading up from the lawn, from which 20 or so beautiful young people emerge, with a mixture of shyness and performance, and walk two by two through the crowds before dispersing into smaller groups and chatting to guests over glasses of Champagne.

The new arrivals were dancers from the Ballet de l’Opéra National de Bordeaux; earlier, they had given the performance everyone had come for, in the marquee by the vineyard, in front of 100 seated guests. The show marked the second edition of the biannual Prix Clerc Milon de la Danse (Clerc Milon dance prize), awarded by the Philippine de Rothschild Foundation to two outstanding dancers from the Bordeaux ballet. The two winning dancers, Alice Leloup and Marc-Emmanuel Zanoli, had been awarded their prizes at the end of the show; now, after a brief interval, they and their colleagues were emerging, perfectly attired for the evening, to join the soirée. It was a magical moment during a spectacular evening.

Facade of a classical wine cellar with a huge arched wooden door

Wooden arched door to a wine cellar

The private wine cellar at
Château Mouton Rothschild

The prize is the brainchild of Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, Chairman and CEO of Baron Philippe de Rothschild SA, and his siblings, Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild and Camille Sereys de Rothschild. When their mother, the legendary Philippine de Rothschild, passed away in 2014, they inherited one of the most famous empires in wine. Their company, Baron Philippe de Rothschild, owns Château Mouton Rothschild, one of the five ‘first growths’ of Bordeaux and among the most celebrated and expensive red wines in the world; Château Clerc Milon and Château d’Armailhac, also classed-growth Bordeaux châteaux; the Bordeaux brand Mouton Cadet, and much else.

Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s founding fathers, was famously fond of Brane-Mouton, as Mouton Rothschild was then known, and shipped some over to the nascent United States in the 1780s. But it was Baron Philippe de Rothschild, the grandfather of Sereys de Rothschild, who elevated the wine to worldwide fame, first modernising the estate in the 1920s and insisting on ensuring quality by bottling all wines at the Château, and then asking a different celebrated contemporary artist to create a new label for Mouton Rothschild every year. The labels read like a who’s who of 20th and 21st-century art: among them are Jean Cocteau (1947), Georges Braque (1955), Salvador Dalí (1958), Joan Miró (1969), Marc Chagall (1970), Wassily Kandinsky (1971), Andy Warhol (1975), Keith Haring (1988), Lucian Freud (2006) and Gerhard Richter (2015).

Portrait of Philippe Sereys de Rothschild with his daughter, Mathilde on their vineyard in Bordeaux

Philippe Sereys de Rothschild with his daughter, Mathilde

Grand garden with stone statue of a person leaning one hand on his head in front of a hedge

The gardens of the Rothschild estate

The Baron’s daughter, Philippine, strengthened the link with the arts – she herself had been a celebrated actress, and married one of France’s most famous actors, Jacques Sereys – while growing the business; and so, on this evening surrounded by vines under a sky washed by the nearby Atlantic, with stars emerging from the fading blue, it seems entirely appropriate that her children are both honouring their mother and supporting the arts with this new prize.

Read more: 6 reasons to buy a Hublot Classic Fusion Bucherer Blue Edition

Certainly, the winners seemed delighted: “I am amazed,” Alice told me, with a big, dimpled grin, her perfect, wavy hair and immaculate outfit belying the fact that she had been dancing on stage minutes previously. She was sipping at a glass of Champagne shyly, as if it were a rare treat to indulge. “It’s a great thing for them to do, although I never thought I would win. It just helps make all the hard work worthwhile.”

Ballet dancers in motion with one dancer stretching on the ground

Ballet dancers in performance with a male lead

Dancers from the Ballet de l’Opéra National de Bordeaux perform at Château Clerc Milon

A statue of an elf sitting on top of a column in a smart stately gardenThe next morning, I meet Philippe Sereys de Rothschild in a drawing room at Grand Mouton, the family’s traditional residence, a few hundred metres away in the heart of Château Mouton Rothschild. The room is square and traditionally decorated; four chairs have been placed facing inwards towards each other. Between two of them is an occasional table, on top of which has been placed a tray containing still and sparkling water, small bottles of tonic water, and two halves of a lemon on a saucer. Sereys de Rothschild walks in, erect, greets us and offers us drinks, before settling down in a chair, squeezing one of the lemon halves into his glass of tonic water.

He was up, he says, until past 2am the previous night after the party ended, doing a debrief with his nephew Benjamin, who had helped organise everything. “Yes, last night Benjamin said, ‘We’ve got to do a debrief to know if it went well or not,’ and I said ‘OK, OK.’ So, we went through all the stuff that went well and didn’t go well, and it was the best time to do it because we had everything freshly in our minds. When people visit Château Clerc Milon they know it’s the family, they know it’s the Rothschilds. So, the standard is up there and you can’t disappoint them. Nothing is worse than disappointing people who have come to have a great evening and don’t have a great evening.”

All three of Philippine’s children were at the event; while Philippe oversees, Julien de Beaumarchais de Rothschild, his younger half-brother, is responsible for the collaboration between art and wine at Mouton, and gave a casual and touching tribute speech on the terrace the previous evening, after the formal speeches in the marquee led by Philippe.

Ballet dancers in motion, performing against a backdrop in pastel clothing

It seemed to be quite a grand success for an event that is so young, I observe. “It is a young event and it actually happened much more quickly than I thought it would,” Philippe says. “The Foundation was created in 2015 and we did the first Clerc Milon prize in 2016. We wanted to start the foundation with something local. That was very important for us. Something local, something artistic and something linked to live performance. And all that was linked to my mother, because my mother was very close to the theatre, the Opéra de Bordeaux. Brigitte Lefèvre (president of the jury of the prize and a former administrator of the Opéra Garnier in Paris) really came in very quickly. I gave her a call one day; it was very interesting, she was outside on the street coming out of a documentary on ballet and I said, ‘I’ll call you back’ and she said ‘No, no, no, don’t call me back – what do you want?’

“I talked to her about the prize and everything and I said, ‘I’m looking for someone who could chair the jury.’ She said yes immediately, and it was in November 2015, so it was very, very quick. She was able to put the jury together quickly because after 20 years at the Opéra de Paris, she knows absolutely the whole planet in her world. So, the first prize was awarded in July 2016 and we were very happy.”

It was Lefèvre, he says, who had the idea of the prize specifically supporting young dancers and those who “cement the group together”. “And don’t forget,” he says, “the Foundation only has been going for three years. When we created it in memory of my mother, everyone knew she was very linked to the arts. As you know Mouton is also very linked to art: wine and art, art and wine. We knew we wanted a foundation carrying the name of my mother, and with an artistic purpose. That was very clear. So, we started there.”

Read more: Grand Luxury founders Ivan & Rouslan Lartisien on curating travel

A Harvard MBA, Sereys de Rothschild worked in the finance sector on graduating; in the late 1990s he was chief financial officer (CFO) of an Italian subsidiary of what is now the Vivendi conglomerate. He then ran a successful private-equity fund and created a high-tech investment fund. Was he always fated to take over the family company, I ask?

“No, not at all,” he says, very definitely. “I don’t feel that family businesses have to be run by families. Family business have to have family values, family principles, family ethics, family identities, yes. But that does not mean they have to be managed by the family, which is a completely different thing. We could have said, ‘Managers manage and the family is just there to define the values, principles, identity and culture.’ It was a choice, because it’s true that the family is very much linked to this company, and it was a choice that I made, to say that I was ready to spend much more time with the company, to make sure that we develop it the right way. There is a lot of development going on now, and I thought that the best way to ensure the development was done the right way was to implant myself more in the company. But it could have been different. I did many other things in my life before – some environmental projects, I managed a software company, I developed schools, I did a high-tech fund.

“But I’m not doing it alone, even if I’m managing this company with the objective of developing it, I’m doing it with the family. They are all on the board and we all decide together, and we all take decisions together and we all decide on the investments and whatever we want to do, together. I’m there to manage it and for the leadership, but they are there with me.”

Facade of Château Clerc Milon in Bordeaux

Architectural photograph of stairway leading up to a landing with a hanging light

Château Clerc Milon is a different kind of château with a modern vat house designed by architect Bernard Mazières

Is it different, I ask, managing a family business to running other businesses? “Well, although I’m completely conscious of the fact that it’s a family business, I really try to manage this business by asking myself, whenever I take a decision, is it good or bad for the company? Period. Because otherwise, you mix everything up. Don’t forget that we have 370 people working in this company, so what is important is to make sure that the company lives on and that I pass it on to the next generations. If I start thinking to myself I should do things differently because it’s a family business, then you make the wrong decisions. You have to make a decision, as a business decision, as a company decision.”

A bottle of Château Clerc Milon wine with two full wine glasses in the background

The Château Clerc Milon label features a pair of dancing clowns made of precious stones

Has his experience in the broader business and financial sector helped? “I think what has helped me is working with people with very different profiles. That’s been the most valuable thing. When you go from an environmental project to working with software engineers, working with more high-tech people, working with people in schools, you get used to going from one profile to another and to working with very, very diverse profiles. So, I can talk with people in the vineyards and I can talk with people on the market and I can talk to the people with the Ryder Cup [Mouton Cadet is the official wine of the Ryder Cup] or I can talk with the manager of the Festival de Cannes. They’re completely different types of people and the fact that I have had my own professional experience before has helped me to really make the difference between managing people with very different profiles. That’s probably one of the characteristics of the wine business, is that you really go from the vineyard up to the end of the line, who can be art collectors.”

A large wine cellar with rows of barrels and a crested back wall

The wine empire’s crest on the walls of the cellar

Over the past 20 years, wine has made a transition from being a drink enjoyed by those with the taste and means to acquire good bottles, to a trophy with, at the highest level, an ever-spiralling price. A case of Mouton Rothschild from a good vintage can cost as much as a new compact car, or a haute-horlogerie watch. Is Sereys de Rothschild in the luxury goods business, I wonder?

“No. I don’t really know which business I’m in,” he says. “In other words, in some ways we are in the luxury business, in some ways we are in the collecting business, in some ways we are in the limited series business, in some ways we are an agricultural product, in some ways we are in the tasting and drinking business. Where are we? I haven’t got the faintest clue. But that’s what makes it exciting and very difficult because we are not a luxury product, but we are in some ways a bit of a luxury product.”

Has China, which has been at the heart of the soaring demand for fine wines, affected the way the company does business?

“I would say it has affected it in the right way. What I like about the Chinese market is that it’s really a market of people who like wine, who drink wine, where wine has become part of their life. When they need to celebrate something they think about wine, which is very important, and it’s become a market of people who know wine well and who talk about wine in a very intelligent way. And don’t forget that Chinese people are very sensitive to education, and you cannot understand wine without having some sort of an education process. There is an initiation approach to wine and the Chinese people have understood that. And when you listen to Chinese people talking about wine, some are astonishingly knowledgeable. It’s real wine market in the long term, and a market of real, high-quality wine consumers.”

The wine world has evolved in recent decades. Mouton Rothschild and its fellow ‘first growths’ remain at the top of the ladder, but competitors have arrived from Napa, Italy and elsewhere, and the mid-market, where Mouton Cadet sits, has never been so crowded. What are the challenges facing the business?

“Staying at the top, which is sometimes more complicated than one thinks. The exposure that we have in the media has been multiplied [by the rise of digital media], which puts more pressure on us. It makes us more well-known, but at the same time if you make a mistake or if something goes wrong everyone will know it, so it exposes you much more. But at the same time, it’s very exciting because you’re much closer to the consumer. If they open the bottle and they don’t like it, you know. And 20 years ago, we could guess, but we didn’t know. So, you’re much more in contact with the end of the line, than we were before. Which actually makes things much more rewarding because you know what you’re there for. You know that you’re there to satisfy customers, much more than 20 years ago. So, it’s actually a very rewarding thing and the digital revolution is for me, very positive. The more I hear about the consumer and the more I know the consumer is happy, the happier I am.

Read more: Moynat unveils new collection of bags in London

“That’s the first thing. The second thing is that the market has become much more competitive, at all levels. In other words, it has become very competitive for Mouton Cadet because there are all the Italian wines, all the Australian wines, all the Chilean wines. So we have to fight for our space. But at the same time, it’s also true for cult wines and iconic wines. In other words, the first growths of 20 or 30 years ago were not quite alone, but the market was not too crowded. Today it’s getting more and more crowded. At the same time, it’s exciting because it’s a challenge and it puts pressure and you’re there to make things even better all the time.”

Château Mouton Rothschild has also been working to support the arts, in the form of the collections at Versailles, the legendary palace outside Paris. How do the two châteaux work in tandem, I wonder? “Mouton is linked to paintings, Clerc Milon is linked to dance. So that’s why we really have two very different things. Back at Mouton, because we’ve always been exposed to contemporary art, and it so happened that a certain number of artists that exhibited at Versailles – Anish Kapoor, Lee Ufan and Bernar Venet – also did the label for Mouton. We got in contact with Versailles and said, ‘Can we help you in any way with your contemporary art exhibitions?’ They were very enthusiastic and that’s what we decided to do. Without being immodest, Versailles is an institution, but so is Mouton in a way, although that’s not due to me, it’s been an institution since before I was born. Getting two institutions together that both represent in their own way the ‘art de vivre à la française’, I thought was… rather a great mix.”

There are sounds of activity coming from outside the room; Grand Mouton is gearing up for a celebratory meal with the jury. Sereys de Rothschild smiles as he shakes hands goodbye, and disappears through one of the doors for Sunday lunch with some leading lights in the arts, whom he is supporting. As I walk out along the perfectly raked gravel, and look at the immaculate lines of vine leaves alongside me, I reflect that the faces of the young dancers, the jury members and the patrons may be different, but everything they are doing is comfortably, commendably, consistent through the centuries.

Portrait of Philippe Sereys de Rothschild, head of the Rothschild wine estates

Philippe Sereys de Rothschild on his favourite vintage of Mouton Rothschild:

“It’s difficult! I could mention the greatest vintages: 1945, 1959, 1961. The trouble is, I drank bottles of 1961 when I was much younger – 18 to 20. I drank a bottle of 1961 for my sister’s wedding, and another on her 10th wedding anniversary. Some guests came from England and one person was born in 1961 so we opened a bottle. Each time was different, so how can I say which was the best 1961? The magic about these wines is that they are never the same. They are always fascinating, they are always fabulous. So, if you ask me whether I prefer the 1945 or the 1961, I’d give you one answer today, and a different answer in five years.”

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

This article originally appeared in the Autumn 2018 issue. Click here to read more content: The Beauty Issue

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Reading time: 17 min
A bottle of Philipponnat champagne surrounded by roses
A bottle of Philipponnat champagne surrounded by roses

The latest release from renowned champagne house Philipponnat: Clos des Goisses 2009

Festive drinks parties might not have started just yet, but it’s never too early to stock the cellar, or drink champagne. Julian Campbell, Champagne Buyer at leading London wine merchant Justerini & Brooks recommends five champagnes for LUX readers

Philipponnat Cuvee 1522 2008 champagne bottle ictured on white background1. Philipponnat Cuvée 1522, 2008

Precise, aromatic notes of salt and red berries, brioche, toast and peach combine to produce an arresting initial impression in Philipponnat’s brilliant 1522 2008. A wine with a beautiful seam of fresh acidity that will allow this to age for many years to come. 8 years sur lie has given fabulous complexity with a savoury, very fine note of freshly baked pastries below the fruit, while also giving the mousse a wonderful finesse and sense of integration. The finish is long and deliciously salty. Only 1200 cases of this brilliant wine were produced.

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2. Pascal Doquet Le Mesnil 2006

All the minerality of Grand Cru Mesnil vineyards combined with Pascal’s vinous, long lees aged style – a real stand out in Pascal’s lovely range of Blanc de Blancs. The product of a supple, solaire vintage that has imbued this with lovely fruit to balance out the deep chalky notes, this is drinking beautifully now but will improve over the coming decade.

Bottle of Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 2009 champagne3. Philipponnat Clos des Goisses 2009

The latest release from renowned champagne house Philipponnat.  Opening up with a wave of wonderfully fresh cool chalk aromas, then a bold, expressive nose of grapefruit and fresh red berry, citrus and buttered hazelnuts and finally the faintest suggestions of fresh Victoria plum – there’s a great deal going on here, a wonderful marriage between complex richness and keenly rendered flavours. On the palate this is a big and powerful Goisses but also refined, brimming with rich red fruit, pastry, brioche, raspberry and finally the zest of lemons providing a keen, taut edge. Highly vinous, textural, long and complex, this is every bit as regal as we’d hoped. Superb, a true Clos de Goisses.

Read more: 5 travel experiences that will change your life

Egly Ouriet Les Crayerers champagne bottle and box4. Egly Ouriet Les Crayeres, Ambonnay, Grand Cru, Blanc de Noirs, Brut NV

There’s an element of generous sunshine in this tremendously vinous bottle of champagne, but also a mouth-watering stony element, clear cut golden peach and raspberry, and fantastic chalk definition and minerality on the finish. Long, pure and textural – truly a wine masquerading as Champagne. Made by grapes from an exceptional Ambonnay vineyard with 70 year old vines on intensely chalky soil (at times up to 100m deep).

5. Ulysse Collin, Les Maillons, Blanc de Noirs, Extra Brut, 2013 base

Harvest tends to start here, one week ahead of the other vineyards, and the resulting champagne presents the most glorious red fruit and spice characteristics, huge amounts of pinot appeal, the finest of mousses, with a flourish of red currant, raspberry and ginger spiced pinot fruit on the finish. Aromatic and extrovert while remaining exceptional precision and detail.

For more recommendations and to purchase online visit justerinis.com

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Reading time: 2 min
Skyline view of Manhattan Upper West Side, luxury neighbourhood
sunny skyline view of Park Avenue from Central Park, New York

520 Park Avenue, under construction, seen from Central Park

Gennady Perepada is New York’s go-to real estate broker who curates lavish lifestyles for his elite, high-net worth clients. LUX Editor-at-Large Gauhar Kapparova finds out how he does it
Portrait of renowned real estate broker Gennady Perepada in a suit and tie in front of New York backdrop

Gennady Perepada

Two years ago luxury real estate broker Gennady Perepada organised a surprise on behalf of one of his clients. The man had bought a family holiday home in the Hamptons, without telling his wife. “I arranged a helicopter to take them for a ride along the coastline so she could see it from the sky. He said to her, ‘Do you like this house with the pool? Well it’s already yours’. When they landed, there was a limousine with champagne waiting to pick them up,” he recalls. “It was a very romantic presentation, a personal show of this amazing property.” Yet while this particular man went to impressive lengths to show off and celebrate his purchase, many of Perepada’s clients – foreign and American high net-worth investors, who, as a rule, have a portfolio of real estate around the world – don’t even view a million-dollar apartment in person before they buy (they see a video instead).

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“My clients don’t need to come to New York to make a deal. Our lawyers are experts in international investment,” says Perepada, who set up his company, One & Only Realty Inc, eight years ago with lawyer Edward Mermelstein and thinks nothing of flying between three continents in a week for meetings. “The problem for many clients is that often they don’t have enough time – and that’s what I can give them.” Which he does, not only by finding and securing the most exclusive properties in New York and Miami but also by offering a 24/7 concierge service where no request is seemingly too obscure. “For my clients, I take care of everything from A to Z. Everything,” he emphasises. “For one family from the Middle East, I sorted out medical insurance, kindergarten for the children, connecting the cable television channels in their apartment.”

Render of luxury balcony in New York apartment

520 Park Avenue overlooks Central Park as visualised in this render

He reels off other examples. A client with a daughter studying for an MBA at New York University for whom he found an apartment and arranged a housekeeper to fill up the fridge with food every week; another who needed knee surgery so he organised a private hospital and the best doctors; the morning he spent at a dealership test driving new cars for a client’s wife. His phone is never off, and he is constantly on call, all day and all night, as his clients attest.

It’s all a far cry from 1990 when Perepada immigrated to the US with his family from Ukraine and worked as a taxi driver and as a stall holder at a flea market to survive. Looking for a career, he chose real estate because of the buzz that comes with property. He began by selling regular apartments but soon realised that he needed to find his own niche – the real estate elite. “In real estate trading, create your own market and your own clientele, do what no one else has done,” he says.

Read more: Meet the Swarovski x Design Miami/ Designers of the Future

Fast forward to today and he has 18 members of staff, including two personal assistants, looking after the needs of around 30 clients at any one time (he is currently looking at the possibility of opening offices in Dubai and London). Between them, his employees speak Chinese, Russian, Korean, Arabic (among other languages) to support those clients who aren’t fluent in English, and he has relationships with key property developers in both New York and Miami. “I know every building, every developer, they call me when something new and unique comes on the market because they know I have the contacts with the high net-worth buyers,” he says. “I understand the mentality of my clients and I have lots of experience with what kind of property I need to deliver for them.”

Skyline view of Manhattan Upper West Side, luxury neighbourhood

Manhattan’s now super-desirable Upper West Side

Key to his success is always anticipating his clients’ needs before they know what they want themselves. “When my clients buy a property, before they’ve even thought about it, I’ve got a team of interior designers putting together proposals down to the tiniest details, such as electric blinds, paint colours and smart-home technology.” On top of this, he also looks after real estate management, which involves everything from collecting rent on a property to repairs and full-scale renovation.

Read more: A different kind of Alpine luxury at The Tschuggen Grand Hotel

If it sounds all-consuming, that’s because it is, but Perepada says he wouldn’t have his job any other way. “I love my job; I don’t like it, I love it. It gives me the opportunity to meet and communicate with very interesting and significant people from all over the world. My clients are normal people and they feel very comfortable with me, so they call me like a friend.” They often comment on his endless energy and enthusiasm, he says, and are so happy with the service he provides that they sometimes give him presents. “Last year, one lent me his yacht to enjoy so I spent a week during the summer in Monte Carlo.” In fact, he usually spends at least one month during the summer in the south of France, partly on holiday, partly networking.

Many clients are repeat business (his motto is “return to those who are trusted”), who enlist his services as much for the lifestyle he offers as the property he sells. “Call me, buy a nice apartment and after that I provide a luxury lifestyle,” he concludes. “Trust me and I will take care of everything.”

Find out more about Gennady Perepada’s properties and services: oneandonlyrealty.com

This article appears in the Summer 2018 issue of LUX, on sale now worldwide.

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An artistic interpretation of Runiart Champagne House by Scottish Artist Georgia Russell
Hubert Le Gall's artistic interpretation of Runiart champagne house

Ruinart 12 months Vineyard Shadows by Hubert Le Gall

Ruinart has long been a supporter of contemporary arts. Since 1896, the champagne house has commissioned renowned artists to present their own unique vision of the brand, with the most recent interpretation by internationally acclaimed Spanish artist and sculptor Jaume Plensa. Today, in the run up to Frieze London and Frieze Masters, Ruinart (the fair’s official partner) has opened a hub at the Rosewood London for art and champagne lovers to further explore the brand’s artistic history.

The Ruinart experience at Rosewood London begins with a walk through the lobby and Mirror Room to admire six of the artworks previously commissioned by the champagne house by Maarten Baas, Georgia Russell, Gideon Rubin, Piet Hein Eek, Hubert le Gall and Erwin Olaf. The selected pieces represent each artist’s interpretation and celebration of different aspects of the Maison Ruinart including the vision of its creator, its history and the specialised art of champagne making from vine to bottle.

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Runiart champagne bottle Blanc de Blancs

Runiart Blanc de Blancs

Visitors can then enjoy a glass of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs by the glass or a Ruinart Champagne Cocktail expertly created by the Rosewood London mixology team and paired with a Lobster Croustade, Avocado and Wood Sorrel canapé. There are also specially curated menus to be enjoyed amongst the artworks in the Mirror Room  including the Ruinart Champagne Breakfast Menu with ‘Lobster Eggs Benedict’ and ‘Fresh Strawberries and Ruinart Mimosa Granite’ and the Ruinart Afternoon Tea Menu inspired by Hubert Le Gall’s artwork on display in exhibition.

An artistic interpretation of Runiart Champagne House by Scottish Artist Georgia Russell

The Grand Livre by Scottish artist Georgia Russell for Ruinart

Read next: Richard Mille’s Art & Elegance in Chantilly

For true decadence, the hotel’s Ruinart x Frieze Experience includes a one night stay in a deluxe suite for 2 people with a bottle of Ruinart champagne on arrival, Ruinart champagne cocktails and paired canapés in the Mirror Room, chauffer driven BMW transfers to and from Frieze London, plus VIP access to Frieze London and a glass of champagne at the Ruinart Bar at Frieze London. Yes, please!

The Ruinart Hub at Rosewood London runs from 25 September to 25 November.

 

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Dom perignon dinner london

Superstars from fashion, design and media gathered at an uber-exclusive dinner in Vincent Square, central London, last week to celebrate the launch of Dom Pérignon‘s Plénitude Deuxième 2000 champagne.

Sarah Ann Macklin and Rosanna Falconer

Whitney Bromberg Hawkings, Peter Hawkings and Emilia Wickstead

Paco Sanchez and Richard Geoffroy

Louise Galvin and Charlie Bracken

The cuisine and champagne were made even more glorious by the short speeches from Richard Geoffroy, Chef de Cave at Dom Pérignon, which themselves blended the deconstruction of Jacques Derrida with the poetry of Charles Baudelaire. As to the Plénitude Deuxième (P2 for short): released 17 years after the vintage, it’s a sumptuous, complex drink, rich and open as many of the 2000 vintage champagnes were.

Nadja Swarovski and Rupert Adams

Lady Ashley Adjaye and Tamara Rojo

Farhad Heydari and Darius Sanai

Melinda Stevens

The extra time it has spent maturing in the Dom Pérignon caves in France have given it a soulfulness which determines that it will never be sprayed around over over half-naked waitresses in St Tropez nightclubs, as lesser version of prestige champagnes sadly continue to be. Instead, it is a champagne to enjoy with your soul mate, perhaps at a three Michelin-starred restaurant over a proposal. It should be contemplated as I did, wandering outside after the dinner and looking over at Westminster School‘s cricket pitch on Vincent Square, some decades after I last played there, as a desperate last-minute addition to the school Z team, never imagining I would be back 32 years later to sip a drink made 15 years in the future – and why would one, unless one were Baudelaire?

Darius Sanai
Images by Richard Young
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Grande Cuvée Brut, the product of as many as 1,000 tastings

Grande Cuvée Brut, the product of as many as 1,000 tastings

THERE ARE CHAMPAGNES, VINTAGE CHAMPAGNES, PRESTIGE CHAMPAGNES, AND, FOR A NUMBER OF CONNOISSEURS, THEN THERE IS KRUG. OUR COLUMNIST, HIMSELF A LEGEND IN THE WINE TRADE, EXAMINES WHAT IT IS THAT MAKES THIS CHAMPAGNE SO SPECIAL

“Bring anything you like as long as it starts with K and ends with G.” So I was instructed before a dinner at which only the best would do and it was up to me to bring champagne. So why is Krug considered by true connoisseurs to be the best among many fine champagne houses? To help answer this question I was invited to Krug on a cold winter morning. In contrast to the many splendid champagne ‘Maisons’ in Reims, France, the Krug headquarters is an unprepossessing building that does not prepare you for the splendours inside. I was invited to a special tasting by Margareth Henriquez, the president of Krug. We were joined at the tasting by Eric Lebel, the chef de cave.

The wines to be tasted were Krug Grande Cuvée, Krug 1996, Krug Clos du Mesnil 1996, Krug Clos d’Ambonnay 1996 and Krug 1998. The wines were very different yet all had some things in common. First was a core of firm acidity, the backbone of Krug. All had a very fine mousse and were wonderfully fresh. All were richly aromatic with multi-faceted flavours that danced across the palate, suggesting perhaps grilled nuts for a moment, then a touch of honey followed by toasted brioche or dark red fruits. The sensations went on and on. All had an impression of size and volume yet were so elegant that the aromas and flavours seemed to be balanced on the point of the finest needle. Finally, a long finish that lasted minutes rather than seconds. The wines could be enjoyed on two levels; immediate pleasure certainly, but they also repaid contemplation when so much more was revealed. They are not showy wines but really quite cerebral.

The two wines closest in style were the Krug Grande Cuvée and the Krug 1996. The Clos du Mesnil, a 100% Chardonnay champagne, reminded me of a young Montrachet, but the flavours were much finer. Totally harmonious, very complex and like a ballerina poised on tip toe, supremely elegant. The Clos d’Ambonnay 1996, made entirely of Pinot Noir, had the same Krug backbone as the Clos du Mesnil but its taste profile was entirely different. The texture silkily smooth, the bouquet and flavours hinting at dark red fruits, a touch of toasted brioche, dark chocolate and as Eric Lebel suggested “that classic burgundian feature, sous bois”. There is no equivalent word in English: ‘boskiness’ gets about 20% of the way t