house
house

In 1974, Giovanni Conterno purchased the entire 14-hectare Cascina Francia vineyard in Serralunga d’Alba. It is now known as the Francia vineyard.

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 presents his series for LUX of his golden dozen, the most collectible wine estates from the world’s major regions. For the second instalment, he looks towards Piedmont in search of the best Barolo 

Roberto Conterno is not like many Italian winemakers I have met. Firstly, he’s serious and fastidious. A clean freak, the cellar is always spotless. While tasting wine from one of his barrels, he almost had a coronary when a few drops of red wine spilled from his pipette onto the cellar floor. We met again a few years later, and nothing had changed, except he was keen to show me his new range of glassware, Sensory, that he had designed to taste with wines from any region. In the process, he opened some very pricey wines from Burgundy and Bordeaux to prove his point. Convinced by the taste test, I purchased the first 36 glasses sold in the UK market.

Roberto is deeply respectful of the terroir that he inherited from his late father, Giovanni. This includes the fourteen-hectare monopole (solely-owned designated vineyard) of Cascina Francia, in what is considered the best village in Barolo, Serralunga d’Alba. 400 metres in altitude, it includes 9.4 hectares of Nebbiolo, the varietal he uses in his Barolo designated wines. In 2008, Roberto increased the estate’s landholdings by acquiring 3 hectares of Cerretta, another well regarded vineyard in the village. Finally, in 2015, he purchased Arione, a highly-sought after nearly 6 hectare vineyard situated next to Cascina Francia.

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

field

Monfortino is not a vineyard. It is a name invented for their top bottling at some point early in the 20th Century.

Although the estate makes more than seven cuvées, undoubtedly the best is Monfortino Riserva. An iconic wine designed for long-ageing, it has more than a hundred years of history since the inaugural 1924 vintage. Monfortino Riserva is aged for a minimum of five years in either 50+ year-old Slavonian oak or newer Austrian Franz Stockinger large casks (plus one year in the bottle).

Returning from the First World War, Roberto’s grandfather, Giacomo, had the vision to create a unique bottling of Nebbiolo, sourcing the best grapes from different growers, at a time when wine was typically sold in cask or purchased by local merchants for blending. Only from 1978 was the first Monfortino produced from grapes sourced from the family’s own Cascina Francia vineyard.

I first realised that Monfortino Riserva was one of the world’s greatest wines when I purchased some very old bottles from a little wine shop in Alba fifteen years ago: 1955, 1961 and 1978, all legendary vintages. Opening them at various dinners, they all performed remarkably well. The 1955 vintage had a bizarre trajectory. On opening, it buzzed with aromas of violets, rose petals and a hint of tar, collapsing to oblivion within twenty minutes of pouring. The wine in my glass had become a deadly shade of pale. However, after a further thirty minutes, it had miraculously revived and was as good as when it had first been poured. The greatest comeback since Lazarus!

Read more: Tasting Bollinger’s new luxury cuvées in Paris

wines

The selection of grapes for Monfortino typically takes place in the vineyard. It must be done early in the winemaking process because one of the key differences between Monfortino and their other bottlings is that there is no temperature control during fermentation of the Monfortino grapes.

Monfortino Riserva is still Italy’s reference fine wine. It is also one of (if not the) most expensive, with many vintages selling in the secondary market for more than £1,000 per 75cl bottle. But it’s worth every penny. Fear not, however. Roberto’s other bottlings, in particular Cerretta and Arione, are incredible wines that cost a fraction of the price of Monfortino Riserva.

Lewis’s Best 3 Wines from Giacomo Conterno

Giacomo Conterno, Monfortino Riserva, 2010: An iron fist in a velvet glove is the most apt description of a wine full of power and grace, that will no doubt be showing well for the next fifty-plus years. Monfortino is known for aromas of leather, licorice, incense and dried rose petals, and this wine has it in abundance. However, the coup de grâce was the extremely long finish that captivates you to drink the rest of the bottle before your wife reaches for the bottle.

Giacomo Conterno, Monfortino Riserva, 2002: I was lucky enough to try the 2001 and 2002 (in magnums) together at a dinner in Turin. It was a close toss up as to which gave greater pleasure. However, the 2002 got the nod as I was wowed by the balsamic and black tea aromas, savoury sweet mid-palate, and the silky but firm tannins. Just divine.

guy

Roberto Conterno is the third generation winemaker at the helm of arguably Piedmont’s most famed estate

Giacomo Conterno, Monfortino Riserva, 1955: you just can’t beat having a wine that’s older than oneself and marvelling at how it can make you smile. The flowery petal notes, the intensity of the palate despite the wine having lost almost all its colour, and a long delicate finish. The fact that the wine died and then revived miraculously only added to the long-lived memory of its happy consumption.

liquidicons.com

Share:
Reading time: 4 min
green vineyard with tree and building and sun

Picasso, Miro, Dali, Richter, Braque: supreme Bordeaux Chateau Mouton-Rothschild has had them all, and many more, create its wine label over the decades. Candice Tucker speaks to Julien de Beaumarchais, from the owning family of the esteemed first growth, about the latest label artist, Chiharu Shiota, whose work adorns the excellent 2021 vintage

LUX: How has your relationship with art changed through the process of commissioning these label artworks?

Julien de Beaumarchais: Before the passing of my mother, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, in 2014, I spent more than 15 years working in the market for Old Master paintings and drawings, the creators of which had been dead for a very long time. So it was a radical change for me when, after 2014, I became responsible for the artists who would illustrate the label for our next vintage. I found myself in contact with famous people with strong personalities who were very much alive, accompanying them throughout their creative adventure for Mouton. From Miquel Barceló to Shiharu Chiota, it has been quite a voyage of discovery into all the diversity and complexity of the leading names of contemporary art.

wine barrels with lights and under the tunnels

Château Mouton Rothschild Winery. Photo by Alain Benoit

LUX: Can you illuminate the relationship of the family with this particular artist Chiharu Shiota? How do you choose your artists?

JB: The choice of the artist is a family affair, made in consultation with the other two owners of Château Mouton Rothschild, my sister Camille Sereys de Rothschild and my brother Philippe Sereys de Rothschild. The artists are chosen first and foremost because we like their work and that they are world renowned. My mother, the late Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (1933- 2014) used to give the following answer to this question, which still holds true today: “I have no particular method or five-year plan: my choice is based on my enthusiasm for an artist’s work. I always establish a personal relationship with them, which often turns into friendship, because I deeply love the art of the painter I ask, and for me each work is an expression of the artist’s love for Mouton and its magic.”

A long time ago my mother told me she had been fascinated by one of Chiharu Shiota’s works, shown alongside those of other young artists, at the Galerie Daniel Templon in Paris. For her, on that day, Chiharu Shiota really stood out, and the future has proved her right. The artist’s fame has grown with the passing years, as has the number of exhibitions of her works around the world, and I in turn have been fascinated by her striking, captivating installations. Chance played an important part too: in 2019, on the occasion of a visit to Château Mouton Rothschild, the director of the Mori Art Center in Tokyo offered me a copy of the magnificent catalogue of the great Chiharu Shiota retrospective at the Mori. Leafing through it, I said to myself “One day I will ask Chiharu Shiota to create an artwork for Mouton”.

 

Read more: Prince Robert de Luxembourg on Art & Fine Wine

 

LUX: Which artists do you wish you had secured in the past, who are now either unavailable or dead?

JB: That’s a very hard question to answer: there are so many wonderful artists we would have liked to work with, but there is only one a year. Those missing from the list who died before we were able to ask them include Louise Bourgeois, Cy Twombly, Vieira da Silva and, more recently, Sam Szafran in 2019… But the most important thing is to focus on the artists to come.

 

LUX: How do you feel the context of the artwork by Chiharu Shiota is influenced by the wine and the vineyard?

JB: When I discovered Chiharu Shiota’s artwork for Château Mouton Rothschild, I was fascinated by her vision, so close to the world of wine, especially in the relationship between humankind and nature. Indeed, the human figure is a fragile silhouette facing nature, gorgeous and generous but seemingly dominant, in the same way that the vinegrower is exposed to the unpredictable power of the vine. Yet the four threads that link them, symbolising the four seasons, show that the grower is also capable of channelling it and guiding it towards the ideal of a great wine. I really love this bright red colour, one of her trademarks, so reminiscent of a fabulous cluster of grapes or of new wine running out of the vats…

Plus, Chiharu Shiota said of his visit to Château Mouton Rothschild: “When I visited Château Mouton Rothschild, I was very inspired by their relationship with nature. They depend on the weather and do not interfere with mother nature. They accept the conditions in which the grapes grow. I think Mouton is holding on to the balance of human and nature.”

a label for wine with an artist image on it

Château Mouton Rothschild 2021 Vintage label by Chiharu Shiota

LUX: Can you further speak to the wider context of art in untraditional spaces, which these commissions exemplify?

JB: It is true that nowadays artistic creation is to be found on a wide variety of media, and sometimes in highly unexpected places. But art on wine labels is not exactly untraditional, at least not for us, and we seem to have set an example for others. However, Mouton occupies a unique position for two reasons: it was the first château to feature labels illustrated with an original artwork (Jean Carlu in 1924), and after that to have asked the greatest names in contemporary art to create an artwork for the label.

 

LUX: Do you think people buy the wines because of the labels?

JB: Yes and no. Château Mouton Rothschild’s success is due above all to the quality of the wine. But art lovers or admirers of a particular artist who has created an artwork for a label may acquire a certain bottle for that reason, or else a wine collector may want to buy a specific vintage to complete their collection of Mouton Rothschild with illustrated labels.

 

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

 

LUX: Would you be able to share about the vineyard’s involvement in the artists process and their work for this commission?

JB: It is very important for us that the artist should come and spend some time at Château Mouton Rothschild, to get a feel for the place, a better understanding of our history, our terroir and the way we make our wine. The visit is often a source of inspiration.

Artists are not given any particular instructions when they create a label for Château Mouton Rothschild: they have entire creative freedom. That being said, many artists have chosen to base their illustration, each in their own way, on subjects related to Mouton, such as the ram and the vine.

There is a long and impressive line of artists who have contributed to these labels, with public access to the original works.

vineyard in yellow light and sky

Château Mouton Rothschild estate. Photo by Alain Benoit

LUX: Can you tell us more about how you may hope to amplify this exhibition?

JB: The exhibition amplifies itself, since a new work is added to the collection each year! But more than amplify, what I would like most is to diversify, in terms of both creative techniques and the geographical origin of our future artists.

Find out more:mouton-rothschild

Share:
Reading time: 6 min
There is a vineyard in the heart of Napa Valley that is a legend among wine cognoscenti; and one wine estate above all others that is celebrated for the wines it makes from it. Darius Sanai embarks on a tasting of Schrader’s celebrated To Kalon vineyard Cabernet Sauvignons

Schrader’s wines come from the heart of the Napa Valley in California

Anyone who enjoys the world’s great wines will have been asked a variation of the following question by a friend or acquaintance who is not a wine drinker: why are they worth it?

Top wines cost hundreds or even thousands of pounds/euros/dollars a bottle. What is it about a liquid, opened and dispatched over the course of a couple of hours, that is so much better than other bottles of very similar liquid, on sale for a fraction of the price?

My favourite answer is that a great wine makes you think. It carves its own conversation and memory in your mind. It has a depth and breadth of complexity which starts, like any foodstuff, with your sensory organs (smell, taste, sight, touch), but which then transfers into your brain to engrave itself on your experience.

Great food also has sensory complexity (and can also be expensive and confined to the very wealthy). But wine has two qualities which are unavailable to food: a bottle of wine accompanies you and your companions during the course of a part of a day (rather than as a course in a meal), taking part and assisting in numerous conversations. And a great wine evolves, and has a different conversation with you over the space of a couple of hours. The greatest wines leave a city’s worth of impressions on your mind.

I was thinking of this during our tasting of Schrader Cellars wines. Schrader is one of the big names of Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon: if you are a hedge fund titan in New York, an oil magnate in Dallas or an entertainment investor in LA, you will likely know the winery.

 

 

 

Jason Smith, Master Sommelier at Schrader

The first three wines we tried – three of the winery’s flagships – were all from a legendary piece of land, the Beckstoffer To Kalon vineyard in Napa Valley.

Drive by Beckstoffer To Kalon on Highway 29, the main road bisecting the valley, and you would be forgiven for missing it. Unlike some of the spectacular vineyards of the region, perched amid hillside forests or on mountainsides, To Kalon is flat, on the valley floor, just an array of vines. But then, so are vineyards like those around Chateau Latour or Chateau Petrus or Chateau Cheval Blanc in Bordeaux. Visual appeal has no relationship to vineyard quality.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Like a Burgundy vineyard, To Kalon has a number of different wine estates making wines from its esteemed grapes; Schrader is probably the most celebrated. But what makes Schrader, as well as this vineyard site of To Kalon, so special?

The To Kalon vineyard is on the valley floor of Napa, touted by forested mountains

Jason Smith, the urbane, cosmopolitan General Manager of Schrader, with whom we had our tasting, is too modest to give a direct answer: it’s a combination of the vines and the winemaking. Smith is a rarity in that he is a Master Sommelier running a prestigious winery; and as such has real insider knowledge of the fabulous restaurants which manage to get their hands on a small stock of Schrader wines. He says the wines are best drunk over dinner with a small group of friends; although the wines weave such a conversation we would be happy to drink them alone.

Tasting notes by Darius Sanai

Schrader Cellars Heritage Clone 2019

So many layers wash over your senses when you sip this wine: as soon as you think you have separated and worked out the different elements, more arrive to replace them. If it were an artwork, it would be a late-period Rembrandt: on first note, a portrait of a person, then you notice the eyes, the unfinished sleeve, the posture; keep looking, and keep sipping, and more nuances appear and others disappear. Unlike a Rembrandt, this will improve over time: its conversation will be even more fascinating in 2029 or later.

Schrader Cellars CCS 2019

The To Kalon vineyard is cooled by breezes and fogs coming in from nearby San Francisco Bay

Schrader is very scientific over which parts of the To Kalon vineyard make which of its wines. CCS is made from grapes from nearest the centre of Napa Valley itself, near the river. The soil is full of mineral deposits, which apparently make the wine balanced, lifted. My impression was of a wave of blues, greens, greys and reds; its conversation was playful yet intellectual, never too heavy, but always very precise. It reminded me of a Chagall; not one of his sadder paintings, but a more joyful work, figures flying, but always with a poignant poetry behind it. Again, I would keep my next bottle for a few years, as this conversation developed as the evening went on.

Schrader Cellars RBS 2019

For me, the most famous of Schrader’s wines and the only one I had tried before, in various different vintages. This is not a wine that hides its qualities behind its coat. It is made from the warmest part of the vineyard, and Napa does get very hot in summer, although To Kalon is mitigated by both the fact that it is near the cooling effect of the Bay, and that the valley floor has cooling fogs flowing in from the Bay and the Pacific, which can also keep sunshine off. So with the richness comes a balance. Still, this is a showcase wine with power and wow factor: a Damien Hirst sculpture of a wine, a showcase. I would drink this anytime from now, but ensure Alain Ducasse was around in my kitchen to cook up a tenderloin with foie gras or alternatively a morel mushroom casserole with plenty of truffle and parsley, to accompany it.

Read more: A tasting of Vérité wines with Hélène Sellian

Double Diamond Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

The wine made for people who can’t afford or don’t want to broach the fabulously expensive wines above, I expected Double Diamond to be a bit of a disappointment, like the second wines of top Bordeaux chateaux are sometimes. But hell no. Although it’s made from 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, like all the wines here, Double Diamond is sourced from outside To Kalon (but within Napa Valley), and it’s altogether a different conversation. Open, delicious, very sophisticated in its own right, perhaps less demanding of your attention and conversation than the artworks above, which require the limelight; ready to drink now and not really needing a food accompaniment. A mid-career contemporary artist, perhaps Flora Yuhnkovich, enjoying their success.

Find out more: schradercellars.com

Share:
Reading time: 5 min
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

Share:
Reading time: 5 min
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.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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

Share:
Reading time: 3 min
oak barrels of wine
man standing by wine bottles

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

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

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

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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

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

wine bottles

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

Ornellaia 2018

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

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

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

Ornellaia 2008

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

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

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

Wine estate

The Ornellaia wine estate

Ornellaia 2000

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

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

Find out more: ornellaia.com

Share:
Reading time: 4 min
dining table
dining table

Woolsery Cottage, a private residence with interiors by Hannah Lohan

Since launching in 2015, Hannah Lohan Interiors has developed a reputation for designing uniquely decorative spaces. The studio’s portfolio includes numerous residential properties, boutique hotels, restaurants and spas with two ambitious hotel-village projects currently in development. Here, we speak to the studio’s founder Hannah Lohan about creating immersive environments, the return of maximalism and collecting vintage furniture

1.Where does your design process typically begin?

Hannah Lohan

It starts with the client – we spend as much time as we can getting to know them and developing a deep understanding of how they want their space to feel to their guests. We get them to list their key adjectives – do they want to create somewhere calming, nurturing and tranquil, perhaps? Or would a buzzy, vibrant and eccentric environment be more appropriate? It sounds basic, but the act of narrowing down to just five words can really focus the design process, as well as being a useful reference to prevent the project veering into another direction.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The next step is to consider the architecture and locality of the building. We try to draw on the surroundings as much as possible, including local artisans and makers in the design wherever we can. Personal touches and stories from the owners are also so important. The Dunstane Houses in Edinburgh, for example, was a lovely project for us as the owners were keen for us to include references from Orkney, where they grew up. We looked into Orcadian culture and history and came up with a design story for their whisky bar, the Ba’ Bar, based on the Kirkwall Ba’ – the traditional street football game that has been played in Orkney for centuries. We celebrated this with a picture wall full of historical photographs of the games, and even an old Ba’ ball that sits proudly on the shelves. The heritage and history of the building and its owners can play a huge part in shaping the character of the space.

interiors hotel bar

bedroom interior

A bedroom at The Dunstane Houses hotel in Edinburgh, and above,Ba’ Bar, the hotel’s whisky bar

2. How do you utilise theatrical and storytelling techniques?

I think my passion for theatre in design comes from years of running a creative events company, designing immersive environments that transport people to other places. We love designing boutique, independent hotels, because they allow us to incorporate that sort of theatrical detail and employ unique elements that create truly memorable spaces. Good interior design isn’t just beautiful, it tells stories and sends you on imaginative journey as you experience it. That can be achieved by including elements of the unexpected and the playful – from treehouses and luxury safari tents hidden in the grounds, to pop-up bars in old horse boxes or disarmingly offbeat boot rooms.

restaurant interiors

Hook restaurant at The Fish hotel in the Cotswolds

3. Is it more important to have a recognisable aesthetic or to be adaptable?

As designers, it’s our job to be adaptable and to tell our clients’ stories by guiding them through the creative process but I recognise that, as our studio has grown, we’ve become known for a more layered, decorative aesthetic. We wouldn’t be a good fit now for someone wanting a truly minimalist look. I don’t want us to be pigeonholed, and we never, ever take a cookie-cutter approach to our projects, but I am proud of all the work my team and I have put in over the years to research and build a fabulous library of materials, finishes and interesting furniture suppliers and makers, so it would be foolish not to see this as one of our biggest strengths.

pub interiors

The Farmer’s Arms, a Grade II listed pub in Devon, with newly renovated interiors by Hannah Lohan

What makes a design rich and interesting is layer and detail. We have to love what we do and be fully invested in order to create something truly magical. The hardest thing is to get clients to trust you – this is why we work best with creative owners who are willing to push themselves out of their comfort zones and understand that designing a hotel is very different to designing a home.

4. What do you think have been some of the most interesting evolutions in design in recent years?

Hotel design has evolved very quickly in a short space of time. My brother and his wife, James and Tamara, are the founders of boutique travel company Mr & Mrs Smith. When they started 17 years ago, they struggled to find enough hotels with strong enough interior design to fill their first book. Today, it’s completely different; you can really pick a hotel that appeals to your personal taste or go for somewhere that offers something completely different. This has pushed designers and hoteliers to be braver and bolder and makes for a really exciting era in design.

One trend that has been really interesting to be part of is the demand for quirky, outdoorsy places to stay, from cabins and shepherds’ huts to treehouses, like the ones we designed in the grounds of the Fish Hotel in the Cotswold. From the gorgeous Bert’s boxes at The Pig hotels to the luxurious treehouses at Chewton Glen, they’ve proved that you can connect guests to nature without compromising on style or comfort. And as we discover more and more about how important the countryside is for our mental wellbeing, this trend is going to continue to thrive.

luxury treehouse

treehouse bedroom

The treeperches at The Fish hotel in the Cotswolds designed by Hannah Lohan interiors

Provenance is another key trend – guests are engaging with food much more deeply and taking an interest in ingredients and where they come from. This has led to a boom in hotels opening cookery schools (there’s a lovely one at Thyme), and in hotel restaurants opening up their kitchens – first by adding windows, then kitchen theatres, then chef’s tables, and now it’s gone even further, with glass cabinets of butchered meat and wine cellar tours. This has a direct impact on interior design – what was once storage is now display.

The return of maximalism is another trend I find fascinating. Minimalism is such a niche style and shabby chic has evolved in to a more finished and polished look. Amazing designers such as Martin Brudzinski, Kit Kemp, Abigail Ahern and the Soho House design team have shown that maximalism and chintz is all about layering to give a more modern, curated and very glamorous interior. We’re even seeing the trend towards coloured bath suites again – at our project in Devon, we’re bringing back the avocado tub, thanks to the stunning Water Monopoly supplier who we love!

5. Your concepts often combine vintage and modern pieces – is there a design era that you’re particularly drawn to?

I’ve always been attracted to vintage furniture and I love nothing more than finding an old tired chair and giving it a new look with modern fabric and a good French polish. It’s so satisfying to see something old look current again; it just takes a little imagination – maybe contrast piping or a different pattern on the back. We sell a lot of revamped 1950s and 1930s chairs like this through our shop at the Old Cinema in Chiswick. I’m certainly not an antiques expert like lots of my fellow dealers there and I don’t have a preferred era. I buy on instinct, so you’ll find anything from old industrial factory tables to Victorian dressers to French vintage tableware. It’s a constantly evolving collection of lovely finds from our travels and contacts we’ve built up over the years of designing hotels. We love using these pieces in our projects; they add character and it’s a much more sustainable approach.

Hannah Lohan Interiors shop at The Old Cinema in Chiswick, London

6. Does good design last forever?

What is considered ‘good design’ is constantly evolving – but that doesn’t mean you have to do a total refurb every five years. It’s amazing what can be achieved with some simple styling and up-cycling certain pieces of furniture. My favourite design studio, Roman and Williams, headed by Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, are such an inspiration to me. They started off their career as set designers for movies and then went on to design amazing hotel interiors, such as the Ace Hotel and the Standard in New York. Their designs are all story-led, as though they were following a film script, which makes them brave in their approach. They don’t follow trends or rules – they love to surprise and disrupt traditional ideas by doing things like painting a Georgian cabinet red, or mixing eras to create a really eclectic, unexpected design. This, to me is good design – having the vision and confidence to adapt what’s there, rather than replace it as trends change.

Find out more: hannahlohaninteriors.com

Share:
Reading time: 7 min
Château Mouton Rothschild vineyard in autumn with golden leaves

Château Mouton-Rothschild vineyards in autumn Image: Mathieu Anglada Saison d’Or

We all know that collectors of fine art are liable to collectors of great wine: how better to appreciate a Joan Miró painting or Takashi Murakami installation than over a glass of one of the world’s finest wines?
German artist Gerhard Richter creates artwork for Château Mouton Rothschild

Gerhard Richter. Image: Studio Gerhard Richter, 2017

Château Mouton Rothschild, one of the great estates of Bordeaux, takes the connection further, commissioning a different leading world artist to design its label for its top wine every year. To collect bottles of Mouton from the past sixty years is to be immersed in original creations from the likes of Miró, Pablo Picasso, Jeff Koons, Francis Bacon, David Hockney, Lucian Freud, Keith Haring, Wassily Kandinsky – the list is a who’s who of the world’s great artists.

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

So it’s no surprise that the latest, 2015, vintage has been announced to be sporting a label by the great German expressionist Gerhard Richter – indeed, one could wonder what took the collaboration so long. Richter’s other-worldly ability to reinvent himself, to pioneer new genres, and to blend elements of the social commentary so prevalent in contemporary creative culture with the purism of fine art, makes him the most collectible living artist. His works sell for tens of millions – a development which he apparently scorns.

Gerhard Richter's artistic label for Château Mouton Rothschild

Gerhard Richter’s label for the 2015 vintage

The work he created for his label, Flux, is stunning, alive, compelling, angry and colourful. The technique he uses involves spreading enamel paint on a plate of plexiglass on which he then presses and moves another glass plate to generate a swirling composition of colours. Richter then photographs the still fluctuating colours when he considers their composition to be momentarily harmonious.

It is appropriate that Richter, who turns 86 next year and who spends his summers at the other-worldly Waldhaus Sils in Switzerland’s high mountains, has been paired with 2015, one of the greatest vintages of recent times. Like the 2015 ‘grand vin’, he is an artist whose works will stand the test of decades – and even centuries.

chateau-mouton-rothschild.com/label-art

 

Share:
Reading time: 1 min
Interiors of Michelin-starred Esszimmer restaurant in Munich
purple grapes hanging on the vine in the Masseto vineyard in Tuscany

The Masseto vineyard in the Maremma region of Tuscany

LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai was recently invited to a private tasting of Italy’s greatest wine, in a spectacular location. Masseto may now be a global superbrand, but it didn’t disappoint.

Italy makes many serious and famous wines, from the Barolos of Conterno to the Brunellos of Soldera. But there’s only one Italian wine which has crossed the Rubicon from the serious wine community – who examine vintage, vineyard, slope aspect and barrique ageing in exquisite detail – to what we call the general luxury connoisseur.

The latter is the category of wealthy people who live busy lives and, while immersing Chef prepares canapes to accompany the tasting of Masseto fine winesthemselves in life’s pleasures, don’t have time to work out which Conterno makes the great Barolos (it’s Giacomo) or whether Brunelli is the same as Brunello (it isn’t). They know and consume the greatest things in the world: they might own a Ferrari F12 TDF, a house in St Moritz and another in Malibu, eat at Osteria Francescana and own a Heesen boat and a Patek Philippe Sky Moon Tourbillon. But they’re just too busy to sweat over the arcane detail of the wine world.

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

That doesn’t mean they don’t know wine – they drink more fine wine than a Master of Wine could ever afford – and nor does it mean they only consume brands. Wine is a world where there’s nowhere to hide: if Chateau Pétrus really weren’t as good as it’s supposed to be, people wouldn’t buy it.

The wines that pass through the luxury connoisseurs’ lips are mainly French: Pétrus, Margaux, La Tache, Haut-Brion, Cheval Blanc. And only one Italian wine makes it into this highest echelon: Masseto. Masseto is made a grape’s throw from the Mediterranean, in a beautiful vineyard sitting on a slope between the coast and an ancient forested hillside, in the Maremma region of Tuscany. This rather unspoiled stretch of Italy, between Rome and Pisa, produces other rather good wines, like Sassicaia, Tua Rita and Guado al Tasso (among many others). But it’s Masseto that has the brand recognition.

Interiors of EsZimmer restaurant for wine tasting of Masseto

EssZimmer: a sophisticated setting for a private tasting of Italy’s greatest wine

It’s made from Merlot, like Chateau Pétrus, and it’s rich, rounded, velvety and hedonistic. LUX had the privilege of being invited to a recent private tasting of no fewer than 15 different vintages of Masseto, held at the two Michelin starred Bobby Bräuer‘s EssZimmer restaurant at the BMW Museum in Munich, Germany. Hosted by winemaker Axel Heinz, and Burkard Bovensiepen, the owner of the BMW Alpina car company (and fine wine importer) and accompanied by such glorious dishes as ‘venison from the region, spice crust, onion ravioli’, it was beyond memorable.

Read next: President of LVMH Watches, Jean-Claude Biver on the popularisation of luxury

Masseto label on wine bottle with red wax stamp

Vintages served were the 1989, 1990, 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2006, 2007, 2011, 2013 and 2015. Did we have a favourite? The 1989 is no longer available but had a gentle timelessness that we could drink every day. The 2010, we would splash on as the world’s most lavish cologne, before licking it from the belly of…let’s move on. The 2011 was a Roberto Cavalli gown of a wine. The 1997 was a Chanel couture creation in all its perfection. The 2015 should have been undrinkably young; but was like drinking the stars.

Only the most recent vintages are available now, and we recommend drinking them with your favourite person, even if, in some cases, that means sharing them.

masseto.com

Share:
Reading time: 2 min