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fireworks over the thames at henley and the night sky

fireworks over the thames at henley and the night sky

The UK’s only black tie music festival, Henley Festival, returns for its 42nd year, this week. LUX has a look

Mud, sweat and beers. That’s what one associates with music festivals. Well one hopes that there’ll be sun, a friend or two and some good music to make your voice worth losing back at the work the next day. (‘Been off ill, have you?’, one hears the boss ask. ‘Yes, yes’ one surreptitiously croaks. ‘Not at Glastonbury?’ ‘No, no; just a cold…’) Not, however, at Henley Festival…

a stage little up with red lights in the dark

Henley Festival features not only music, but art, comedy and what it calls the ‘Roving Troupe’, groups of roaming entertainers of various sorts.

The town, renowned across Britain for the home of the Royal Regatta, has been pulsing to the UK’s only black tie music and arts festival. The dress code reads somberly that if you are spotted in casual attire, you’ll be ‘refused entry to the event.’ One pictures security guards in morning suits rather than fluorescent jackets. 

boats on the river with people sitting on the side

Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire, England, is home to the Henley Royal Regatta, first held in 1839 as a local festival but now an internationally renowned competition.

Henley, in line with its dress code, ensures that both art and gastronomy are focuses of equal measure to the music, which itself proves to be strong and eclectic.

In the past, Henley Festival has featured Jess Glenn alongside the Heritage Orchestra, Melanie C alongside Goldie, and the Pet Shop Boys as well as Chaka Khan. This year, the lineup has procured artists from across the pop, classical, world music, and jazz settings, from Nicole Scherzinger to Dave Stewart’s Eurythmics Songbook, to Trevor Nelson, Gladys Knight and Sam Ryder. Oh, and a minor addition – the semi final of the Euros will be shown as part of the festival this year, on July 10th.

a woman with a guitar singing into a microphone

KATYA, winner of the Rising Star Initiative, rose to fame with her debut single, ‘I’ll Take Your Number’, featured on Spotify’s Fresh Finds UK & IE playlist.

2022 saw the 40 year anniversary for Henley Festival, and marked the founding of RISE – a platform lifting up emerging young musicians, comedians and visual artists. This, as Jo Bausor, CEO of Henley Festival, contents, is ‘rapidly becoming the beating heart of Henley Festival and is at the core of everything we do.” And this year, one will find the inaugural Westcoast RISING Star Award – awarded to multi-instrumentalist KATYA, who has impressed the UK’s largest festival, Glastonbury, as well as BBC Radio 1, for her electronic beats, jazz overtones and soundscapes.

two fine dining plates

The range of dining and drinking options spans from riverside fine-dining to grazing, to various bars across the site.

It’s no surprise that a music festival in Henley – the second most expensive market town in England for property – has opted for black tie. But what is surprising is how radical it seems that, despite the obvious discomfort of mud, sweat and beer, no other festival in the UK has gone for the comfort and sophistication of bow ties, velvet and Veuve Clicquot. For now.

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henley-festival.co.uk

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The Bryant Estate’s 13-acre vineyard, overlooking Lake Hennessey

Bettina Bryant, owner of California’s iconic Bryant Estate, is a wine-world legend. She is also a philanthropist, a significant art collector and cultural polymath, and an advocate of nature and biodiversity. Darius Sanai meets Bryant over a thoughtful dinner in Mayfair, and she, in turn, presents a first-person meditation on her life and work

Encountering Bettina Bryant for the first time, in a Mayfair restaurant, I would not have imagined that she was in the wine industry. Elegant, compact of movement, considered and thoughtful, Bryant has an academic poise. She is an art historian (she studied at Columbia University), a collector and a former dancer. If anything, I would have imagined she was an academic: there is a precision to the way she gives answers, the sign of a mind that does not indulge in irrelevant debate.

Matt Morris: A Cabernet Sauvignon grape seen as a heavenly body – Bryant grapes are harvested according to the lunar cycle.

But Bryant also owns one of the world’s wine legends. Lovers of California’s renowned Cabernet Sauvignon-based red wines, which are as acclaimed and sought after as the most celebrated of Bordeaux, know that her Bryant Estate is one of the region’s own “first-growths”, the equivalent of a Château Latour or Château Lafite. (Unlike France, California doesn’t have an official first-growth categorisation system, but everyone knows that Bryant would be one of them if it did.)

In that, though, there is heartbreak. It was her visionary husband Don Bryant who first established the reputation of Bryant Estate alongside the likes of Screaming Eagle and Harlan Estate, before succumbing to Alzheimer’s, with which he remains gravely ill.

Follow LUX on Instagram: @luxthemagazine

Bettina Bryant, the art historian, collector and former ballet dancer (she was mentored by Mikhail Baryshnikov at the American Ballet Theatre), unexpectedly took over the reins. Speaking with her, the conversation swoops between art, literature and, of course, wine. Although she is a born-and-bred American, Bryant’s parents had immigrated from Maienfeld, Switzerland – perhaps, coincidentally, the heart of that country’s fine wines.

The mineral-rich terroir

They were not in the wine industry: her father, Fridolin Sulser, was an acclaimed psychopharmacologist, an academic and scientific pioneer. You sense this in Bryant, in that precision and compactness of thought, which is common enough for scientists, but not so much for art collectors (this author does not know enough ballet dancers to comment on that side).

Since 2014, Bettina has been Proprietor and President of the winery, dedicating herself to maintaining the legacy established by her husband

Bryant has commissioned some fascinating and distinctive artists, including Ed Ruscha, to work with her winery: a particular favourite of mine is Sara Flores, a native artist from the Peruvian Amazon, whose art is at once deeply organic and somehow tightly graphic, rather like the mathematical forms of nature itself.

This commune with nature is important for Bryant. Her wines are biodynamic, and she has a scientist’s fascination for how natural cycles, and nature itself, interact with not just her vines, but with humans and our creativity. The wines themselves are creations of the utmost elegance and eloquence. Bryant Estate, the original legend, is deep, philosophical, somewhat Kantian in its uncompromising synthesis of nature.

A series of the renowned Bryant Family Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

Bettina, a newer wine, has a lightness of being (is it autosuggestion to say it dances on the palate?), but also a persistence and gravitas. Bryant has also released a Chardonnay, a white wine of oceanic depth and character. All are made by Kathryn “KK” Carothers, her winemaker, a gentle soul with quiet wisdom and playful eyes who accompanies Bettina on many of her journeys around the world, like a family member. Enough from us.

Matt Morris. Weiferd Watts: The Cabernet Sauvignon vineyard

Bryant speaks about her life and her wines in her own words. We suggest a sip or two of Bettina, the wine, from an Ed Ruscha-designed magnum, as you drink them in.

A former dancer, Bettina’s creative story is interwoven with the wines, including the Bettina wine and this Bryant Estate logo

My journey to the helm of Bryant Estate was unexpectedly swift and accompanied by heartbreak. Six years after my arrival in Napa, my husband, Don, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and was unable to continue day-to-day oversight.

I am immensely grateful for the time we had to work together, for the opportunity to shadow him and ask questions. I also worked early on with oenologist Michel Rolland and helped create the Bettina wine. Establishing myself in the process sooner, the time Don and I shared at the vineyard and our travels to other wine estates was deeply informative and invaluable.

Untitled (Pei Kené 1, 2022), 2022, by Sara Flores

Don was extremely generous with me, opening iconic bottles from his cellar, dispensing advice on running the business, managing and mentoring people and, of course, always maintaining an uncompromising attitude when it comes to quality. For more than a decade, I have been putting his lessons to use as I work to evolve the winery.

Among the things I have implemented are:

Biodynamic farming: I am perhaps most excited to have transitioned the vineyard from organic to biodynamic farming. We use no pre-emergent herbicides and rely wholly on elemental forces, such as fire, to coordinate vegetative growth. We replaced plastic ties with biodegradable twine and, in following the lunar cycles, have discovered that vines pruned during the descending moon recover more successfully than on the ascending moon.

Swell (PICA PICA), Five Rings of Magpie Feathers, 2020, by Kate MccGwire

Already, improvements to vine physiology and vine stress resilience are demonstrable, particularly in recent drought years. We have never witnessed more soil vitality, and I firmly believe that this translates into more expressive and pure wine aromatics. Being in deep connection to the land and its gifts teaches us that we must be in right reciprocity in all aspects of life. For me, this holistic view encourages harmony, balance and beauty in the wines. Much of society has become too extractive. We must engage in good practices and be mindful in giving back to nature. 

Education: I had wonderful mentors in my life and encourage my team to seek out opportunities for continued learning. I created two educational support programmes to encourage employees to pursue deeper learning, both in their chosen fields and in external areas of interest.

Philanthropy: I am passionate about philanthropy and have embraced four areas of support at the winery. First, the arts, emphasising arts education, creative learning and emotional healing through art. Second, the environment, spanning clean energy, climate action, conservation and environmental justice. Third, social impact, covering access to food, safe spaces, tribal support, job training and social justice.

California Grape Skins, 2009, by Ed Ruscha

And fourth, mental health, encompassing research, advocacy and support.

Read more: Visiting Ferrari Trento: The sparkling wine of Formula 1

Immersive moments: I recently engaged the French architect Severine Tatangelo of Studio PCH to collaborate with me on a Tasting Room / Dining Pavilion at the vineyard. She has designed several hospitality projects, including Nobu properties in Malibu, Los Cabos, Santorini and Warsaw.

My desire is to holistically integrate wine, nature and art. I want to honour the vineyard, the wine and the talent behind the wine, and inspire people to be present, to connect with nature, light, music, or maybe even silence. The design approach will be sympathetic to and harmonious with the contours of the existing building and landscape, so much so that it practically disappears, and will utilise materials such as stone, wood, clay and natural fibres.

Supporting small producers: The Napa of today has many other pressing factors at play, compared to when Don founded Bryant Estate in the mid 1980s. Not only has the number of wineries increased exponentially, but we are facing unprecedented environmental factors and supply pressures.

One of my biggest observations over the nearly two decades that I’ve been involved is that many of the new players sweeping in to acquire smaller family-founded wineries seem to have little respect for the essence of what made these small producers special. Post acquisition, I find many of the wines unrecognisable. This was a big impetus to create Bryant Imports, to cast light on – and hopefully protect the stories of – these special producers.

Das Angebot (The Offering), 2016, by Neo Rauch

The art of wine: My background as a dancer and art historian informed my art collecting, and I approach winemaking with a similar lens. To cite music producer Rick Rubin, author of The Creative Act: A Way of Being, “Being an artist isn’t about your specific output, it’s about yourrelationship to the world”. For me, art and wine go hand in hand. The emanative, visceral power of visual art, music and architecture is no different for me than sharing a glass of wine with someone who understands that they are experiencing something ephemeral.

During the pandemic, I invited my friend Tom Campbell, Director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, to join me and my winemaker in a lively Zoom discussion around art and wine. Tom and Renée Dreyfus, his Curator of Ancient Art and Interpretation, talked about objects and depictions of wine in the museum collections, and my winemaker, KK, examined the artistic process of winemaking.

In 2020, I released my first artistic wine collaboration with UK-based artist Rachel Dein. Using our vineyard cover-crop botanicals, she created a unique impression that we transferred to the interior of the wine box. Many of my collectors claim that this presentation box holds pride of place in their cellars. Art that demonstrates virtuosic ability, wrought by an artist’s own hand, has always compelled me.

I studied a lot of theory at university and, while that can be a very intoxicating and cerebral exercise, I find that I really appreciate the gesture of the human hand in a work of art. No wonder I appreciate the craft of winemaking! My husband and I collected a lot of minimalist and abstract art (Ellsworth Kelly, Brice Marden, Gerhard Richter, Richard Serra), and in 2015 I installed a particularly beautiful grouping in the Great Room of our St Helena home. In 2016, I acquired a wonderful Neo Rauch painting titled Das Angebot (The Offering), and I repositioned a Kelly to accommodate this work. The energy in the room instantly electrified.

The Rauch painting features a central, brightly hued female figure surrounded by male figure en grisaille. The female figure offers fire in her cupped hands, alongside a muscular hand digging its hand into the earth. With this installation, I realised an affinity for figurative work that clearly harkened from my time in dance.

I now realise that this painting was perhaps prophetic, as I lost my home in the 2020 fires that swept through the valley. Thankfully, my connection to the earth remains solid. During the Covid pandemic, I was inspired by how the environment benefitted.

Artist Rachel Dein’s impression of botanicals from the estate, which featured within a wine box

The waterways cleared, air quality improved, turtles were returning to their natural breeding patterns, and so on. I also discovered the astonishing foraged feather pieces of Kate MccGwire and commissioned a large concentric work from her.

My interest in the utilisation of natural materials in art also led me to the Peruvian painter Sara Flores, a 74-year-old Shipibo-Conibo artist, who sings to the trees before she extracts the bark to make her pigments. I find that so touching and am excited to support a documentary film on her life and work.

And Ed Ruscha [who designed the 10th-anniversary artwork for the Bettina bottle] was a dream to work with and very receptive to my ideas – a genuinely generous artist (and human being). It was a complete honour to work with him.

The vineyard is located in a moderate microclimate that fosters natural sugar development and a gradual ripening of the grapes

Tapping more deeply into my creativity and understanding the opportunity to learn and grow is one of the greatest gifts of life. One of my particular joys is supporting others on their learning and creative paths, whether encouraging my winemaker to source and craft our new Chardonnay, commissioning works by artists or evolving my new business venture supporting other small wine producers whose values resonate with my own.

On a more personal level, I am about to begin meditation and mentorship work with a Buddhist teacher. With art and wine and luxury, it is imperative that we recognise the gifts we have been given and treat them responsibly.

Art and beauty have such potential to be catalysts for positive change. I have always loved Gerhard Richter’s quote: “Art is the highest form of hope”. In these turbulent times, I feel more compelled than ever to create and deliver a wine and experience that resonates and inspires.

bryant.estate

 

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F1

The sparkling wine of Ferrari Trento is being splashed around by the winners at the F1 podium

Formula 1 celebrates with sparkling wine from Italian winemaker Ferrari Trento – They have been the official partner of the competition since 2021. Fabienne Amez-Droz visits the alpine city of Trento, tastes their different wines and experiences the Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix first hand.

Ferrari Trento is the “Official toast of Formula One,” celebrated globally by drivers spraying each other with sparkling wine at the end of the races. The Ferrari Trento vineyards are located in Trento, nearby the dolomites mountains in Italy, and the company is, as many would suspect, unrelated to the Ferrari racing team. Actually the Ferrari Trento family company came first – their business dates back to the early automobile era, predating Enzo Ferrari’s first race car. But the brand’s name recognition has been clearly beneficial.

villa

The family-owned Villa Margon in Trento, situated above the vineyards, is a Renaissance-era estate with 16th-century frescoes.

Founded in 1902 by Giulio Ferrari, the business was sold to Bruno Lunelli, a local wine shop owner, in 1952. Since then, the brand seeks to communicate “The italian art of living” with its costumers worldwide.

Today it is managed by the third generation of the Lunelli family with Matteo Lunelli as CEO and President of the family business. Ferrari Trento’s other executive family member is its vice-president, Camilla Lunelli, niece of Bruno. A story that does the rounds in northern Italy is that Bruno was friends with Enzo Ferrari, and Enzo once expressed interest in investing in his namesake wine company, although the Lunelli family declined, as they wanted to keep it as a family business.

The family has an estate, called Villa Margon, located above the vineyards, where you can walk around the ancient building, gardens and learn about the family’s history. The Villa is covered in-and outside with frescoes dating back to the 16th-century. A little drive further down from the estate, you can find their big, modern winery, where they produces all of their so-called Trentodoc‘s, available in six different lines – each of which expresses its own distinctive characteristics.

Trento DOC (Denominazione di origine controllata), commonly known as Trentodoc, is an appellation for white and rosé sparkling wine made in Trento in Italy. They produce the sparkling wines with a traditional method, just like Champagne. In this method, the second fermentation occurs in the bottle, creating the bubbles. Along with Franciacorta, it is a region of Italy widely considered to make world-class sparkling wines, leagues above cheap Prosecco.

After visiting the large Ferrari Trento winery in the valley, Camilla Lunelli invited me to the Michelin-starred Restaurant Locanda Margon  and explained all of the different sparkling wines, which they offer and how to pair them with a gourmet meal.

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The modern Ferrari Trento winery in the valley can store 20 million bottles, with over six million sold last year.

Read more: 6 Questions: Matteo Lunelli, CEO & President of Ferrari Trento

For this year’s Emilia-Romagna Grand Prix in Imola, I was hosted by the Lunelli- Ferrari Trento- family. This particular racing track is one of the most well-known racing venues in the history of the Italian Grand Prix’s and 2024 marks the 30 years anniversary since the deadly accident of Brazilian F1-driver Ayrton Senna (1960-1994).

For the Imola Race, the brand designed a special Ferrari Trento bottle in honour of Senna which has been signed by the winning drivers: Max Verstappen, Charles LeClerc and Lando Norris, and it will be up for auction for the Senna Foundation in Brazil.

The Ferrari Trento Team took me around the Paddock and gave me an intimate tour of the Stake F1 Team Kick Sauber– garage to show what it would be like, to be down there during a race. You could see the Netflix “Drive to survive” camera team taking shots for the show. An experience worth celebrating!

champagne

The bottle of Ferrari Trento designed in honour of Ayrton Senna for the Imola Grand Prix 2024

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a man sitting on a silk rug
a man sitting on a silk rug

NIGO will be leading the creative vision for Penfolds in a multi-year artistic collaboration

Fashion and wine meet with the collaboration of Japanese fashion designer NIGO and the iconic Penfolds wine brand

One of the world’s most iconic wines just got a little more special. For years, collectors have lusted after Penfolds Grange, Australia’s most celebrated wine and quite possibly the most revered luxury brand to come out of the country. The phenomenon of Grange, as it is known to connoisseurs the world over, from Shanghai to San Francisco, is largely due to its sheer quality – many consider it the world’s best wine made from Shiraz (otherwise known as Syrah) grapes, but also due to its originality.

a bottle and a bandana

This collaboration sees the influence of NIGO’s company, Human Made, which was founded in Tokyo and draws upon
graphic design, subculture and streetwear

Unlike every other iconic world wine, whether from Bordeaux, Burgundy, Napa or elsewhere, Grange is not made from a single vineyard, or even from the same designated vineyards in a small, geographically distinct area, every year. Rather, it is made from grapes from Penfolds own vineyards and grower partners’ vineyards across Australia, selected by the Penfolds winemaking team for their Grange-like character. It is an icon that is also an iconoclast.

Read more: Inside Penfolds, the global luxury wine brand

a man with lots of wine barrels

NIGO, visiting Penfolds’ Magill Barrel Room, ahead of his collaboration, ‘Grange by NIGO’

So, how suitable that Penfolds Grange has partnered with the wildly original – some might say iconoclastic – Japanese designer and cultural hero NIGO, who is also Artistic Director of the Kenzo fashion brand and founder of Human Made. Appointed as the wine brand’s first ever Creative Partner in 2023, NIGO is working on a series of collaborations with the brand, none more exciting and iconoclastic than the recently released Grange by NIGO, which has seen NIGO design a limited edition gift box for the 2019 vintage. With each gift box individually numbered and including a bandana and bottle neck tag also designed by NIGO in his signature style, it’s a bold step for a fine wine brand, as Penfolds Chief Marketing Officer, Kristy Keyte, explains:

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“This is a different direction for us, and the first time we have changed the distinctive gift box of our flagship Grange. Collaborating with NIGO has been inspired by Penfolds history of pushing boundaries in winemaking, and now we expand this to exploration of new creative ideas. As a collector, NIGO understands the reputation of Grange and its legacy. He was able to create a limited-edition approach that is both playful and fresh while remaining respectful to the history of the wine. We have never done this before, and the result is brave and refreshing.”

a guy sitting looking at a bottle of wine

‘Penfolds has always been one of my favourites’, says avid wine collector, NIGO

NIGO, a fine wine collector himself, commented : “I have been a collector of Grange for many years, but it wasn’t until I visit Penfolds Magill Estate that I truly understood the craftmanship and history behind the historic wine. It was an honour to be the first person to collaborate on a design for Grange, especially as the brand celebrates its 180th anniversary.”

a man holding a bottle of wine

According to Drinks International’s 2024 list of The World’s Most Admired Wine Brands, Penfolds is one of the top three wine brands globally

There are only 1500 standard-sized 750ml bottles and 150 magnums available globally and they are selling fast in this, Penfolds 180th anniversary year, following their initial release in Australia and Asia recently, and they are likely to become highly collectible. We suggest buying as many as you can: its a wine whose box (and nifty bandana) is as striking and delicious as the liquid inside.

Penfolds Grange by NIGO is available globally. Future projects between Penfolds and NIGO will be announced later this year, 2024.

penfolds.com

 

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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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Reading time: 6 min
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.

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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.

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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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Green field with a little house in the middle
Family of different generations sitting on a stone wall

The family Drouhin grew up in the vineyards and acquired a deep understanding of wine alongside their father, Robert Drouhin. They all have their own role and they share the same passion for wine

Veronique Drouhin was not supposed to run one of the world’s most celebrated wine producers. The scion of a family with holdings throughout Burgundy and beyond, she was born with the odds stacked against her in two ways: she was the second child, where traditionally the elder child took on the family business; and she was a woman in the very mannish world of wine.

“I did not think, when I was at school, that things would end up the way they did,” the urbane, lively head of Maison Drouhin says ahead of our tasting of some of her finest wines. But her elder brother, Philippe, decided that he wanted to devote his energies to being in the vineyards, making the wines great rather than running the company. And Veronique, although she is too modest to say so directly, showed the commercial nous required to take the company forward in the 21st century.

Drouhin is famed for making wines of finesse, vibrancy and balance. That was not necessarily always a plus point: there was a time earlier this century when many consumers of fine wines thought that the more powerful a wine was, the better. And being the head of a negotiant-producer, which both owns its own vineyards and buys grapes from small producers with their own vineyards, was also a double-edged sword as high-end consumers sought out tiny production boutiquewineries as a status symbol.

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But the pendulum has swung the other way, both on style, with finesse and balance most definitely back in vogue, and in terms of consumer demand, as the cost of wines from tiny producers shot upwards beyond sustainable levels. Drouhin, which makes wines from some of Burgundy’s most hallowed vineyards, suddenly looked like excellent value as well as high quality.

If there is a grace to the wines – more on which in our tasting notes below – there is also a grace to the head of the Maison. When I ask what she would have likely done if she had not been born into a major French wine dynasty, Veronique replies that she might have become a music. I can imagine her playing a Chopin sonata as much as I can imagine her tasting her wines or hosting a collector’s dinner.

Read more: A tasting of Dana Estate wines

Wine cellar

After carefully harvesting the precious fruits of a year’s labour, Maison Drouhin let their vines enter a period of rest, an enchanted interlude called dormancy.

Drouhin makes wines at a variety of price points: just days before this tasting of some of their highest-end wines, which costs hundreds of pounds/euros/dollars a bottle, I partook of a bottle of a more lowly Drouhin Savigny-les-Beaune red Burgundy, from the fulsome 2020 vintage, at a London restaurant. It was delicious, balanced, moreish; and very much in the style of all the others. But if you are seeking a high end Burgundy at a relatively reasonable price, look to the below.

The Drouhin tasting. Tasting notes by Darius Sanai

Whites:

Chablis Grand Cru Les Clos, 2018

The Chablis brand might suggest a certain austerity and steeliness; this grand cru, from one of the most celebrated vineyards, had that but also breadth, depth and white nectarines. Very classy and surprisingly powerful; a Jaguar E-type of a wine.

Green field with a little house in the middle

The harvest date is determined through regular samplings. Maison Drouhin closely monitors the health and maturation of the grapes.

Beaune Clos des Mouches, 2019

A white wine from Beaune? Sacré bleu – or sacré blanc!  But what a wine this rare and prized bottling is. Rounded, rich fruit with freshness and sex appeal and a lot of layers. An open-topped classic two-seater Mercedes SL from the 1980s.

Chassagne Montrachet Premier Cru Morgeot, Marquis de Laguiche, 2019

From Chablis we headed south through the forest of the Plateau de Langres (Chablis is not connected to the rest of the Burgundy vineyards), over the continental divide and down to Beaune. Now we travel a few kilometres further south, with the Cote d’Or hills rising to our right, in our 1973 Porsche 911S, in a solid period dark green. That’s what this wine is: super-elegant, precise, crafted, stunning.

Multiple wine bottles standing next to each other

The harvest date is determined through regular samplings. Maison Drouhin closely monitors the health and maturation of the grapes.

Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru, 2019

Back up the road we go, past Beaune, to the rounded Hill of Corton. Corton Charlemagne is one of the most celebrated white Burgundies, and this is a beautiful interpretation, with stony fruits and the complexity to match a three Michelin-starred chef’s signature Escoffier-style white fish main course. A 1960s Citroen DS Decapotable (in black, with cream leather) of a wine.

Reds:

Volnay Premier Cru Clos des Chênes 2018

Such finesse, a wine that only hints at its true depth of first sip, then keeps speaking with you, reciting poetry in your ear.

Beaune Premier Cru Clos des Mouches 2018

Beaune is only a few kilometres away from Volnay, and this wine is made with the same, pinot noir, grape variety by the same producer: yet while retaining Drouhin’s finesse, this has power and muscularity. Like a Duke from the court of Louis XIV expounding on the virtues of his house musicians.

Chambolle-Musigny Premier Cru Les Amoureuses 2009

On first sip, this is a balanced, structured and slightly delicate red Burgundy. By the end of the second glass, it’s an artist, a pianist, a poet and a dancer – and not a particularly chaste dancer. A Chippendale from the 2000s, or a brilliant burlesque; all at the same time. Astonishing.

Chambertin Clos de Beze 2003

This is a wine you would have at your last supper, with capon, truffle, caviar and tripe sweetbreads (and maybe some pommes dauphinoise). Like a Falstaffian royal performing a perfect ballet while reciting Rumi.

domainedrouhin.com

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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.

 

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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

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A pedestrian area with white parasols and a view of a city

Adrian Bridge, opened Porto’s Cultural District, WOW, in 2020

Starting his career in the British Cavalry Regiment, Adrian Bridge moved to Portugal in 1994 and is now CEO of The Fladgate Partnership, which produces Taylor, Fonseca, Fonseca-Guimaraens, and Croft Ports. Here, Bridge speaks to LUX’s Leaders and Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh about being a driving force behind wine tourism in Porto and developing the city’s new Cultural District WOW
a man in a suit holding a glass of port

Adrian Bridge

LUX: What do you think your training at Sandhurst taught you?
Adrian Bridge: The military teaches a great deal about leadership and confidence. You also learn to make decisions based on the available information, no matter how imperfect. However, in planning action it is in the details where success lies. That requires breaking down a problem to its parts and thinking through all of the details. I believe that all business is about the detail and that is where success lies.

LUX: How would you say this has influenced your dynamic style of leadership?
AB: The moto of Sandhurst is ‘Serve to Lead’ and I strongly believe in leading from the front. This creates a company culture where everything should be possible. I do not ask people to do things that I would not do myself. I think that this allows us to push forward, to take risks, to do things that others might not attempt.

A bar with a decorated ceilings

Angel’s Share is the name given for evaporation process that takes place when wine is ageing in barrels. It is also the name of the WOW wine bar

LUX: Why is the house so good at innovating?
AB: To me, innovation is all about pushing boundaries. To remain at the top, you simply can’t sit still. You have to continuously question, push and evolve or someone will overtake you.

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Established in 1692, we are one of the oldest companies in the world simply because we don’t sit still. We are continuously expanding and innovating to appeal to both new and existing audiences. We have a reputation for quality and excellence that has been built up over time and continues to be sustained through the generations.

One of our best examples of innovation has to be the creation of Croft Pink; the first ever Rosé Port. We launched this product in 2008 with the goal to introduce Port wine to a younger generation. In 2011 we continued to expand this concept and launched a canned “ready to drink”- Rosé tonic.

 grapes in boxes and woman picking through them

The Fladgate Partnership produces Taylor, Fonseca, Fonseca-Guimaraens, and Croft Ports

LUX: Oporto is already a UNESCO World Heritage City, so what was your vision for WOW?
AB: Porto is a beautiful city full of history, charm and culture – all of great significance to Portugal’s identity. The vision of WOW was to bring a totally new set of cultural concepts to Porto and in this way offer quality content to the region.

We wanted this to be a game-changing space for both locals and travellers that really celebrates the culture, gastronomy, history and industries of Portugal. WOW is as educational as it is fun. To achieve this, we needed to make sure this was a dynamic district that featured regular exhibitions, unique events and seasonal experiences.

A lit up walkway with rocks on either side

The District is over 55,000sqm and includes 8 museums and experiences and 11 restaurants and bars

LUX: What does an immersive experience offer that can complement the traditional vineyard visit?
AB: One of the reasons WOW originally came to be was in response to the booming number of visitors coming to Porto – demand that we helped to create by building The Yeatman – and the lack of experiences that Porto had to offer. To appeal to this market, we continuously try to ensure that there is something new for people to do and see in the district. Technology really allows us to engage with guests in a more interesting and meaningful way.

After the traditional vineyard visit, I would definitely suggest spending a day at WOW. It’s a good idea to choose one or two museums, do a workshop at The Wine School or at The Chocolate Story – the chocolate museum, enjoy a typical dish in one of our restaurants, appreciate the sunset in our Angel’s Share bar while drinking a Port Tonic and stay to be amused by the video mapping in our main square.

steel factory with chocolate dripping

The Chocolate Story Museum

LUX: What is a sustainable vineyard model and how are you working to secure the future of viticulture?
AB: We are committed to protecting the environment and the future of our vineyards and the Douro Valley where our family has produced Port wine for centuries.

Our sustainable model incorporates a number of techniques and strategies which work together to create a balanced, diversified and sustainable vineyard environment. The basis of the model is the construction of narrow terraces each of which supports only one row of vines.

People sitting at tables in front of a large window overlooking a city

The view from Angel Share’s Wine Bar

This model was awarded the prestigious BES Biodiversity Prize in 2009, which recognises achievement in the fields of conservation and environmental sustainability.

In order to encourage industry change on a global level we established the Porto Protocol – the wine industry’s climate action network. Since our first summit in 2018, we have brought together more than 230 wine and wine adjacent companies from 22 countries to share solutions to combat climate change in the wine industry.

LUX: This year you have opened a new museum with a ground-breaking exhibition from TATE at the Atkinson Museum, what was the strategy behind that?
AB: The vision of WOW is to bring a totally new set of cultural concepts to Porto. The new exhibitions, especially the Atkinson Museum, reinforce this destination as a “must visit” hub for international travellers.

At the centre of WOW is the Atkinson Museum. Originally built in 1760, we have meticulously restored and modernised the space to meet international museum standards and attract exhibitions from the international art pool.

A sculpture of a hand pouring wine into a glass

Adrian Bridge has a private collection of 2,000 vessels and glasses which tell the story of  the evolution of drinking vessels from earliest civilisations to the present day with some of the collection dates back to 7,000BC

Our most recent exhibition, The Dynamic Eye was produced by the TATE Collection and featured over 100 works from 63 artists – this was the largest number of works travelling from TATE to Portugal. This is an amazing example of the quality of major exhibitions we are bringing to Gaia.

The idea is to bring new and different major international exhibitions, such as The Dynamic Eye, every year.

Read more: Italy Art Focus: Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

LUX: How can cultural philanthropy shine a light on the house values?
AB: As a family business, we are built on a set of strong shared values. We are continuously seeking opportunities that align with our core values. At the moment, one of my key priorities is sustainability in the wine industry and coming up with new ways to create new industry practices.

a blue map on the floor in a room that looks like a boat

Porto Region Across the Ages Museum

LUX: What would you like to be remembered for?
AB: When I came to live in Porto in 1994, I came to into a Port Wine Trade that was very traditional. Our company helped to consolidate that industry and lead it forward, not least with the innovation of various new styles of Porto. This was an achievement and in doing this I hope that I will be remembered for helping to enhance one of the greatest wines and wine regions in the world. This also includes putting Porto on the map as a destination and through that work we have helped to stimulate the development of the town and create jobs and wealth. However, I will probably just be remembered for altering the city centre through the construction of The Yeatman and WOW.

Find out more: fladgatepartnership.com

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green vineyards and an orange house at the end surrounded by trees

Dana Estates is one of Napa’s most prized wineries

Dana is a cult collectible among California wines, made in tiny quantities at sky-high prices. Its owners are on a self-declared quest for perfection. Darius Sanai sat down with them for a tasting of their exceptional wines

The universe of fine wine, more than that of any other luxury good, is filled with contradictions. You say you don’t like Merlot, but you pay £2000 for a bottle of Château Petrus, which is made, mainly, from Merlot. You would never dream of drinking a wine made from different vintages all in one bottle, yet you collect Krug Grande Cuvée champagne, which has made its name on doing just that. You don’t like California wines because they are too strong, and prefer to stick to Bordeaux, yet many Bordeaux wines, in this time of climate change, are 14% or 15% alcohol, just the same as their California cousins.

Nowhere is this paradox more vivid than in Napa Valley itself, the heart of California’s great wines. “Napa Valley Cabernet” is considered even by many wine connoisseurs to be one particular style, which they may profess strong views about either way – particularly if they are French, or a little snobbish and British. And yet not only does this area make a spectrum of different styles – arguably, much broader than that made in the grape’s famous homeland, Bordeaux’s left bank – but, geographically, geologically, horticulturally, and meteorologically, it is one of the most diverse wine producing regions in the world.

A lounge with yellow lighting

The winery was re-designed by renowned architect Howard Backen, keeping the original stone walls as its centrepiece

This point was brought home during our tasting of Dana wines with the estates’ owners. Dana itself is situated on the west side of Napa Valley, in the shadow of the Mayacamas mountains (in reality, densely, wooded, and biodiversity rich, big hills, separating Napa from valleys to the west that run towards the Pacific Ocean).

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Dana’s wines are made from grapes grown on both on the sides of the valley, including two vineyards on the slopes of Howell Mountain to the east, part of the range which separates this fertile area from the arid central valley of California. (This geographical detail is essential, as wine is a product of its place).

In the Dana wines we tasted, we were tasting different identities, and personalities, with far more differentiation than the marginal differences in climate and soil in revered heartlands of France.

casks in a room with a chandelier

Dana Estates produces three single vineyard wines: Helms, Hershey and Lotus Vineyard

And here is another paradox. Because while France’s great wines, from Chateau Margaux to Château Petrus to Domaine de la Romanée Conti, are brands that almost any connoisseur worth their salt knows of, very few people indeed have heard of Dana. And this, you would think, would lead to it being undervalued, a kind of hidden gem of beautiful wine to discover and buy up.

And you would be wrong, for all the wines we tasted here are as expensive, and in the case of some vintages more expensive, than the great names of France mentioned above. Tiny production, and a cult following, and also, as we noted in our conversation, an owner and winemaker absolutely obsessed with making the best possible, no matter what the cost. Hi Sang Lee is a Korean entrepreneur who bought the winery because he just wanted to make the best of the best.

Like a few other top and California estates, a conversation and tasting with Dana is like a window into the creation of a future wine, superbrand. And as for those who prefer to dismiss “cult” California wines, as a fad, superbrands, are often only taken up, in the early stages, by the most discerning.

a vineyard with a house at the back

Dana Estates sits at the base of the Mayacamas Mountains in Napa Valley

The wines: Tasting notes by Darius Sanai

Dana Estates Helms 2019
This is pure, brilliant, Napa Cabernet – and for connoisseurs of the region, more specifically, has the wonderful hallmarks of a Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rutherford Bench, an area just below the mountains on the west of the valley. There is density, powerful fruit, balanced tannins and a balance – although we would put either put this wine in a cellar for 10 years, or drink it with a Kobe steak personally chosen and cooked by Wolfgang Puck in our home overlooking the Pacific.

A blue carafe next to a bottle and glass of wine

The Helms Vineyard Cabernet displays the classic profile of the Rutherford Bench: dark fruit, richly layered with a hints of spice and earth

Dana Estates Hershey 2019
Hershey Vineyard is not in Napa Valley per se; it is up in the hillsides around Howell Mountain, to the east of the valley. Surrounded by forests, you can feel the freshness and lift in this wine. It’s more delicate, more precise, more defined, while still being a powerful wine. We would drink it with guineafowl in a wine jus cooked in our home in the high Alps by Yannick Alléno.

Dana Estates Lotus 2019
Rich, powerful, deep wine with many layers: creamy black fruit, savoury spice and anise, and velvety texture. We would drink this with Hélène Darroze herself, in a Mayfair townhouse, with an Auvergne-style beef casserole.

Large black wine bottles

Dana is a Sanskrit term meaning “the Spirit of Generosity”

Dana Estates Lotus 2011
It was interesting to see how this wine aged; at twelve years, the muscularity of the previous wine has turned into something altogether more poetic. Still rich with power, but woven through with a silken grace, and the spice has a greater subtlety. With this one we would ask Yan Tak from Lung King Heen in Hong Kong to cook us a hotpot, and eat it in our Midlevels apartment looking out over Hong Kong harbour.

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

Dana Estates Helms 2005
This 18 year old Dana wine has aged more like a Burgundy than a Bordeaux, opening out into a fresh, fragrant, balanced wine with much subtlety and no trace of tannins. We would drink this by itself, in winter, in our house overlooking the turbulent sea off the coast of wintertime Mallorca.

Find out more: danaestates.com

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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.

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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

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A glass and wood building that says "Ornellaia" on it
A glass and wood building that says "Ornellaia" on it
Ornellaia, recently held its 15th charity auction dedicated to the Vendemmia d’Artista 2020 ‘La Proporzione’. The online auction, conducted by Sotheby’s, raised $300,000 contributing to a total of $2.5M since the project began.  Here, Samantha Welsh speaks to Ornellaia’s CEO Giovanni Geddes da Filicaja about why this is an essential event and how he turned Ornellaia into one of the world’s most celebrated wine estates in the world

LUX: How did you start-out, and what were you invited to create with Ornellaia?
Giovanni Geddes: In 1999 I became CEO of Ornellaia; the same name as its first growth that represents the style of the estate.

Ornellaia also produces  a second wine, Le Serre Nuove dell’Ornellaia and Le Volte dell’Ornellaia, a blend made mainly by Merlot and represents a more joyful approach of the domaine style. Furthermore, Ornellaia produces two white wines, Ornellaia Bianco and Poggio alle Gazze dell’Ornellaia

A tree and deck in front of a green vineyard

LUX: How did you shine a light on the Ornellaia brand and build it separately to Masseto?
GG: I realised that it was important to create a clear distinction between Masseto and Ornellaia, so the latter did not become seen as a second wine. This is because Masseto was produced in a very limited quantity and sold at a higher price, so my idea was that Masseto needed to become an estate with its own name, its own identity, its own winery and wine. Masseto extended over 8ha and has now grown to around 11ha. We also set up a new management structure for the winery with the appointment of a Production Director and a Sales and Marketing Director. This was a milestone for the Frescobaldi group.

Three men standing up behind a man sitting in a chair holding a walking stick and a dog in his lap

LUX: What was the thinking behind the go-to-market strategy for Ornellaia; how does an art partnership potentially add value and position brand?
GG: My idea was production, promotion and brand building, so everything had to be the very best quality.

Vendemmia d’Artista project was presented in 2009 with the 2006 vintage. Since then, the estate defines every year the character of the vintage and commissions an international renowned artist to translate the vintages’ character in art. Every year 111 large format bottles are “dressed” with these art labels. These bottles have become sought after by collectors. Furthermore, in every case of six 0.75 litre bottles, one bottle bears an art label created by the artist.

green vineyards

LUX: How does the Vendemmia d’Artista project celebrate the exclusive character of each new vintage of Ornellaia?
GG: Each year, art is created and bespoked to the theme which best expresses the character of that particular vintage. First, we define the character of the wine, then an artist is identified and commissioned to interpret the character of the vintage in a series of art labels and one site-specific installation. There is no competition involved.

A room full of people and a woman giving a speech with a man in a wheelchair holding a dog in his lap

For example, Luigi Ontani, one of the most renowned Italian artists, interpreted the first Vendemmia d’Artista vintage (2006) “L’Esuberanza”, creating an artwork which portrayed this exuberant vintage; the following year, the wine was more elegant in style, so “L’Armonia” or “Harmony” was the predominant characteristic and a wonderful Egyptian artist, Ghada Amer created the concept for the artwork. The 2020 vintage, released this year, is balanced and “La Porporzione” as it has been defined by the estate, is represented by the conceptual art pioneer, Joseph Kosuth, through the art of language, an interaction and interpretation of ‘vino’ and art.

A large tree in the middle of a vineyard

LUX:  What happens with these art bottles?
GG: The artwork bottles are sold at auction through Sotheby’s. Usually there are ten lots offered (there were twelve this time) and they comprise several of the double magnums (3 litres), ten Imperials (6 litres) and the unique Salmanazar (9 litres). Proceeds were originally donated to international museums. Since 2019, we have been supporting the ‘Minds Eye’ programme of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, the award-winning programme which immerses blind and low-vision people into multi-sensory experiences to foster art appreciation.

Wines side by side on a grand marble and gold mantlepiece

LUX: Where is demand for Ornellaia particularly strong?
GG: The demand for our wines is exceeding in all markets! We have the best collaborators in all markets that together with our team support the increased awareness of our wines and that of the appellation we are part of.

LUX: With hindsight, what have you most enjoyed in your highly-successful career?
GG: Seeing Ornellaia and Masseto being recognized as Italian iconic wines, brings me great joy and pride.

rows of vineyards at sunset

LUX: What would you like to leave as your legacy?
GG: I have always wished to leave a very strong company and reinforce the estate awareness. Of course, Ornellaia and Masseto are globally very well-known, but I have always strived to amplify the characteristics and values of the wines far beyond the key markets.

Find out more:

ornellaia.com

masseto.com

 

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A swimming pool surrounded by a hotel trees and hills and fields
A swimming pool surrounded by a hotel trees and hills and fields

Glorious exteriors at the Como Castello del Nero, Tuscany

In the fourth part of our luxury travel views column from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai checks in at the Como Castello del Nero, Tuscany

What drew us there?

What didn’t draw us there would be the more pertinent question. This 12th-century castle hotel is on a ridge overlooking half of Tuscany. In the far distance to the north, you can see the domes and spires of Florence; on another ridge to the south, the terracotta shapes of Siena. Both are a short drive away. In between are hilltop villages, and what seems like an endless expanse of forest, vineyard, field and wild boar.

How was the stay?

Our favourite spot was at the northeast corner of the extensive outdoor pool. It is on a terrace that drops away to fields and villages below. At the pool edge is a huge old oak tree, and we set our sun loungers to its left for a view of the hotel, the pool or the Tuscan wilderness, depending on how we turned our heads by a few degrees. The breakfast terrace, relatively newly created in a refurbishment by Como Hotels and Resorts, is a few metres away and has a similar view.

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Or perhaps our favourite spot was above the pool on the higher terrace leading to the hotel. This is a huge space, with sofas, chairs, planters and shrubs. The panorama stretches outwards and upwards, as this is an excellent observation station for shooting stars in summer.

A beige bedroom with white curtains around windows

The ancient-meets-modern elegance of the Loft Suite

The Castello has a couple of different wings that feature stylish and softly pared-back rooms and suites. Ours was in a corner on the ground floor, with views out and down the slopes.

A decision on whether or not to leave the hotel each day was a question of one irresistible urge meeting a countervailing irresistible urge. We resisted the temptation to visit Florence, but did drop by Siena, a pleasant 25-minute drive away. We enjoyed being back at the hotel for champagne as daylight disappeared.

Read more: The Ritz-Carlton Millenia Singapore, Review

There are innumerable wineries to visit in the surrounding Chianti region: you feel you could jump into them from the terrace. Of course, that would be too much effort and the option we preferred was to sit and enjoy the magical views and order wines to come to us. The hotel has decided not to mess around with the food.

A table and chairs in a wine cellar

Atmospheric dining in the Wine Cellar

Some of the best ingredients in the world, from olive oil to meat, cheese and fruits, speak for themselves at breakfast, lunch and dinner. At the Michelin-starred La Torre, guests can dine on the terrace in summer, while Pavilion offers all-day alfresco summer dining.

Anything else?

Italy is full of ancient buildings that have been converted to hotels with views. But there is nothing quite like the Como Castello del Nero.

Find out more: comohotels.com/tuscany/como-castello-del-nero

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case-study-01

Advisory / Wine

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.

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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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A blue car by a lake with an orange sunset
A blue car by a lake with an orange sunset

Mercedes E53 AMG, a highly enjoyable tourer

In the first part of our Great Drives series from the Spring/Summer 2023 issue, Darius Sanai travels from Santa Monica to Napa Valley in a Mercedes E53 AMG Cabriolet, ending his trip in Napa Valley with a glass of Harlan Estate The Mascot, 2016

There is a freeway that leads from downtown LA to the ocean at Santa Monica, but we chose to take Santa Monica Boulevard, which arrows straight to the ocean. On every corner, there seemed to be a liquor store or 7-Eleven to remind us of hold-up scenes in movies. Of course, we put the roof down – you have to in LA, particularly if you are a foreigner driving a valuable car – way to go in style. In fact, our understated mid-blue AMG, with its black interior, attracted only positive attention – a couple of thumbs ups, and encouragement to rev the engine from kids on a street corner. Even in the land of the Tesla, some things never change.

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At the Pacific Ocean, we turned right. Keeping the ocean to our left, we cruised through Santa Monica, which, from the road seems just another collection of low-rise buildings and garish signs. The arc of the ocean and bay occasionally appeared on the left, culminating in mountains dropping into the sea in the distance. In time, the traffic lights became less frequent, the buildings less condensed, rocks and cacti popped up by the side of the road and the ocean lapped the left- hand carriageway. But this is not a place to put your foot down, as ubiquitous signs warn of police speed checks. Our neighbouring drivers, some in quite exotic and speedy-looking cars, travelled dutifully at the posted speed limit, too.

We didn’t mind, we were in it for the long haul. Soon, the mountains dropped directly into the sea, the road became tighter and we could feel the spray sweeping over our open roof between patches of cloud above. Signs for Santa Barbara, our first destination, started to appear. We took a spontaneous turn off at Montecito, to see if we could catch a glimpse of the world’s most famous non-reclusive, non-royal, reclusive royals.

A wooden table on a terrace overlooking vineyards

Breakfast on LUX’s private deck at Meadowood, Napa Valley

We didn’t see them, but we did find a picture-perfect clapboard high street, complete with immaculate children clutching Instagrammable ice creams, watched over benignly by immaculate parents. We stopped for a sundowner at the Rosewood Miramar Beach hotel in Montecito, whose lawns stretch out across a miniature railway line and drop down to a beach. Sailing yachts gently rocked up and down on the ocean beyond, the setting sun was weak in the haze, the air was cool and all it needed was Cary Grant to stroll over and sit next to us to complete the scene.

Santa Barbara was a fun trickle along the back roads from Montecito, which is built into a steep hillside. A couple of spontaneous turnings took us through canyons, hugging the inner edge of mountainsides, facing other mountainsides, which faced other mountainsides – a plunge into wilderness just minutes from manicured civilisation of the wealthiest kind.

The E53 AMG seemed made for this kind of journey. There are AMG models that are more powerful, more focused, more hardcore, but this isa four-seater luxury convertible that has been subtly enhanced by the manufacturer to engage on the sporting side, with plenty of thrust from its V6 hybrid engine. The relatively benign cruiser that had taken us up the coastal highway earlier that day turned into a racket with a foot flat on the floor, surging forward with a roaring buzz from the engine at front. Big tyres and four-wheel drive gave great stability around corners on the twisting roads. This is quite a big, heavy car, so we are not talking Ferrari handling, but it has plenty of security, plus the fun of roof-down motoring.

A blue lit up car parked outside a lit up grand hotel

The Mercedes posing in front of the RosewoodMiramar Beach hotel in Montecito, California

It was pretty exciting. We imagined it would have been even more so for passengers in the back seat, where, unlike many sporting convertibles, there is plenty of room to stretch out. We arrived in Santa Barbara feeling we’d had something of an adventure workout, as you should on a good drive in a sports car.

This trip was about us finding our own personal nirvana: a long drive along the Pacific Coast Highway, or Highway One. As one of the world’s most legendary roads, the map showed it to follow the exact contours of the California coast between our location and San Francisco hundreds of miles north.  Setting off again the next morning, we noted that a Sunday was probably not the ideal day to start the main part of such a drive because we were not alone. Camper vans, family vehicles, pick-up trucks and the odd vintage convertible were inching along the road in weather that more resembled northern Europe in winter than California in Spring.

Fortunately, both turned out to be ephemeral. What has seemed a dull day threatening rain cracked as the clouds fractured to show deep blue fissures above, and soon the overcast sky was revealed to be no more than seven blobs of low cloud clinging to the mountainside in the early morning, and soon dissipated. The air was so clear I was convinced we could see across the ocean to Japan. The traffic dissipated a little, too, enough for us to speed up and enjoy the ride.

A blue Mercedes with its headlights on with a sunset and palm trees behind it

The Mercedes E53 AMG on a windswept Venice Beach, California;

The scenery before us altered between rocky curves, enormous bays, tiny inlets and forests pouring down mountainsides in the sea. We stopped just off the road at a beachside food shack-expecting preprepared food, instant coffee and canned drinks at best  and asked for a white coffee. “Full fat, semi-skimmed, oat or soy?” was the response, and there was a choice between Ecuadorian, Guatemalan and Indonesian roasts. Next to a plate of homemade brownies were three bowls of multicoloured Middle Eastern-style salads, rich with beans, Mediterranean vegetables and za’atar. no ordinary roadside shack.

As we headed north along the coast, every few miles there was a sign to the right, pointing along a road heading inland up some deep valley, towards mountains that looked as uninhabited as the moon. Occasionally, there were signs for wineries to visit along the roads, over the mountains and quite far away. Tempting though the idea was, we resisted, partly because we were driving, partly because a signpost in the US west to a given location does not mean you are anywhere near that particular location, and partly because our end destination was the ne plus ultra of California wines, Napa Valley.

There was a lot of wiggling coastline between here and there, though, and we stayed overnight at a hotel set back in the hills with a distant view of the sea, offering some of the local wines (from San Luis Obispo) in its list, along with a vegan club sandwich. One glass of refreshing Chardonnay was enough that evening.

A swimming pool surrounded by trees and sunbeds

Meadowood Resort’s adults-only Cabana Pool, Napa Valley, Calfornia

The sign of a truly great touring car is one you actively look forward to getting into and driving each morning. Some cars are comfortable but dull, where you feel, as a driver, that you would just as happily be a passenger. Other cars are exciting but tiring, making you weary of the idea of another day at the wheel. The AMG was neither: each morning it welcomed us with its promise of comfort, power and responsiveness. A more powerful and muscular car would have become frustrating in the traffic, and it had enough feedback and driver involvement to keep us looking forward to the next set of curves.

Setting out again along the (now emptier) northbound route on the Monday morning, I reflected further on the car’s virtues. The interior is both functional and lavish. We liked the sweep of the dashboard, the classic-style round vents in the middle, the big wide digital instrument display. The only misgiving I had developed was over the sound of the engine. Cars these days are downsizing their engines, accompanying them with electric motors in the move towards electrification. The AMG’s engine, so created out of a combination of petrol and electric motors, was certainly powerful and responsive enough, but, though the engineers had clearly tried, it did not have the mellow, throaty voice you would expect of a big droptop car with sporting ambitions. That is not unique to AMG, though, and it is a characteristic that engine lovers will need to get used to until, in a decade or two, they are phased out completely,

After what seemed a million mountainsides curving into the sea, it was a relief to stop for coffee at the cute little seaside town of Carmel, and wander through its art stores and boutiques, and again a little later in the bigger town of Monterey, where we visited the oceanfront Monterey Bay Aquarium, having a play with manta rays in the process. This is no normal small-town aquarium: its Executive Director is Julie Packard of the Packard tech family, and, in its mission to inspire ocean conservation, it leads research into marine welfare, advocates to end plastic pollution and campaigns for, and monitors, sustainable seafood production.

A white wooden bedroom with a white bed and dark brown wooden doors and floors

Meadowood’s refined yet rustic Cottage Room with private porch, Napa Valley, California

A couple of hours later, we were navigating San Francisco’s cityscape, before hitting the roof-down button again as we approached the Golden Gate Bridge. Doing so in a droptop Mercedes with a little 1960s music playing was perfect. By that stage, we were seriously appreciating the car’s seats, which felt as if they had been created by many thousands of German engineering hours. We felt neither stiff nor uncomfortable, despite the long days on this great drive.

Napa Valley starts rather abruptly: one moment you are in an urban road system in the unprepossessing town of Napa, having left San Francisco Bay just behind you; the next, you are driving up a steep country road, hillsides either side, vineyards all around, with signs pointing to estates familiar to anybody with a passion for a fine wine. We carried on along the main highway, and, although this is no place for speed-testing, we were grateful for the rapid- fire acceleration of the car when overtaking a couple of pieces of rolling vineyard equipment in the face of oncoming traffic. Crossing the valley and the riverbed, we came to the gates of what looks like a grand residence on the hillside, surrounded by forest rather than vines.

Meadowood Resort was acquired and expanded by Napa Valley’s first family, the Harlans of Harlan Estate, as the area’s first luxury resort in 1979. Our accommodation was a wooden lodge with a large veranda up on the hillside, a big bedroom decked out in luxury country style and a little sitting room with a bottle of The Mascot, the latest wine creation from the Harlan family, as a welcome gift on the coffee table. We sat on our private veranda with a view across through the trees and out to the vineyards of Napa and enjoyed the balanced power of the wine – a vivid, rich, layered Cabernet Sauvignon.

Read more: A Tasting Of Organic Boutique California Wines From Diamond Creek

It was a short walk to the tennis courts and an almost Olympic-sized outdoor pool, where we swam despite the chilly weather that had descended. The cuisine by the pool is Napa Valley country perfection: grilled tuna, parsley, beans, a little tomato coulis, rucola. A bit further along the resort’s forest, the spa looked out over the trees and offered very natural, wholesome treatments in absolute silence, marked only by occasional birdsong. It was altogether a fitting conclusion to one of the world’s great drives.

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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.

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

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

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

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

a green vineyard with a path through the middle for walking

Knights Valley Vineyards

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

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

Three bottles of wine in a wooden box

Vérité’s 20th Anniversary Gift Pack

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

Green vineyards and hills

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

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

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

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

A house with a large terrace

The home of Vérité in Sonoma, California

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

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

A vineyard with a path and greenery

Vérité Jackson Park

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

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

A room full of barrels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

www.veritewines.com

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

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a hotel amongst trees and a lake and mountains in the background
a hotel amongst trees and a lake and mountains in the background

An aerial view of Waldhaus Sils with Lake Sils behind

It has long been a source of inspiration to poets, artists and philosophers – and Sils, in the high-altitude valley of Engadine in the Swiss Alps, still proves a haven of luxury and creativity

Arrival
Waldhaus – house in the woods. To an English speaker, it sounds pretty; to a German speaker, there are centuries of myth behind the forest legend. Sitting on a bench, in the larch forest in the grounds of Waldhaus Sils, we pondered this. To one side, the hotel’s terrace restaurant – a terrace dissolved in forest – was finishing up lunch service. Immediately below us, two clay tennis courts lay empty after a family session had finished – a daughter narrowly beating a father, awash with glee; a family that looked as if they had been playing tennis in the woods for generations.

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Beyond, the mountainside dropped down and you could glimpse the valley floor through the trees: a flat glacial meadow and a blue-black lake containing a couple of islands, thick with pines. Beyond, a steep, largely treeless mountainside, grass, rocks, scree, peaks.

Waldhaus Sils is at the highest point of the Engadine, the wide, high-altitude valley that carves through the east of Switzerland like a scratch in the Alps. St Moritz is 10 minutes down the road, but the village of Sils has its own character and history. Nietzsche and Hermann Hesse lived and visited here; generations of artists came here for inspiration, and some, such as Gerhard Richter, 90 years old and widely considered the greatest living artist, still do come to stay at the Waldhaus.

red and beige chairs in a room with windows

The Waldhaus interior is a triumph of 20th-century modern design

The Experience
The hotel is on a rock just above the village, and what seems at first to be another in the mould of excellent palace buildings in the mountains, turns out to be rather more special.

To walk through the Waldhaus is like walking through a living museum of 20th-century design – when we say living, we mean it’s like a home, rather than curated for the benefit of others. There is a window in one of the drawing rooms that looks directly out at a rock face a couple of metres behind: the rock looks like an artwork in the frame of the window. Everything, from the wood panelling to the chess tables to the signage and the way the keys are arranged behind the reception desk, speaks of indulgent artistry.

Take a room with a balcony and it is as if you are in a tree house, only the balcony also as dramatic views across and along the Engadine and Lake Sils. The rooms themselves continue the theme of being in a home: no nouveau-riche over design here. If you crave three tons of marble in your bathroom, a Toto automatic toilet and Jacuzzi, you would be better to look elsewhere- but as a coherent and relaxing take on classical luxury, it feels wonderful to be in.

A river in a valley between green covered mountatins

Val Fex, high above the Waldhaus, photographed by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

Eating and Drinking
Most of the residents of the Waldhaus (and it feels like a community of residents, rather than hotel guests) dine at the hotel in the evenings. The dining rooms, high-ceilinged and table-clothed, have huge windows directly into the forest, as if you are in a nest. Each evening brought us a different variation on consommé, a broth made with the stock-variously-of forest mushrooms, local vegetables, corn-fed chicken or Swiss beef; one was made with hay stock, and was sublime.

Otherwise, expect Swiss mountain cuisine, precisely prepared, and a treasury of a wine list that virtually compels you to try the wines of the Büdner Herrschaft – the warm, sunny, bijou wine-growing region in the Rhine valley of eastern Switzerland, over the mountains. There is also the terrace restaurant, overlooking the tennis courts, serving salads and grills for lunch.

A red chair on a red carpet with a painting above it and a table with flowers next to it

Activities
Woodland-walks, lakeside-walks around Lake Sils – inspiration to poets and philosophers – rock climbing, mountain hikes to the hidden Val Fex above the hotel…And that’s just the hiking and climbing, most of which begins on a path directly from the hotel’s back door.

Read more: Bittescombe Lodge and Deer Park, Somerset, Review

You can kite-surf and paraglide nearby, or stroll down to the village of Sils and see Nietzche’s house; or stay in the hotel grounds and swim (indoors), play tennis (indoors or outside in the woods), sunbathe amid the trees – or get a cavas and paint.

waldhaus-sils.ch

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX
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A tree and the sun shining over a vineyard
A tree and the sun shining over a vineyard

St. Eden vineyard

Darius Sanai examines the creation of Bond, one of the world’s most desirable wines and brainchild of Napa Valley wine royal Bill Harlan, over a tasting with its winemaker

Legacy is an important concept in the luxury industry. In a world where perception and status form a fundamental part of a brand, legacy means stability, and retained value. A Ferrari derives its value partly from the racing Ferraris of the 1950s, now worth multimillions. A Picasso or a Matisse is valuable because the artists retained and enhanced their status long after they stopped producing works, though the legacy of their collectors and dealers.

The world’s great wine brands have long traded on legacy: indeed, they are among the longest-lived legacy brands in the world, Chateau Haut-Brion, owned by Prince Robert de Luxembourg, was name-checked by Thomas Jefferson, American revolutionary and one of the country’s Founding Fathers. Brands like Chateau Lafite, Chateau Petrus and Domaine de la Romanée Conti may be hot among a new generation of collectors, but they have been desired and collected by royals and the wealthy for centuries.

No watch, jewellery or leather goods brands can claim a legacy as long as the world’s luxury wine brands: Chateau Latour came to prominence as long ago as 1680, centuries before Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Patek Philippe or Rolls Royce existed.

vineyard with a tree

Vecina vineyard

Bill Harlan is the founder and owner of Harlan Estate, one of the wine world’s modern luxury brands, based in Napa Valley, California. Unlike certain luxury goods, whose brand equity can be created by the illusion of marketing, the status of a wine, as a consumable product, rests largely on its inherent quality. No amount of brilliant marketing will make collectors crave a mediocre wine.

Harlan’s wines rose to the top of the tree through their quality, and also scarcity: to this day, to secure a case or two of top vintages, money isn’t enough (although they are as expensive as any of the world’s top wines), you need contacts.

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Harlan stepped back and handed the reins to his son, Will, a couple of years back, although Harlan Sr is still involved in the background. And one of the founder’s most interesting moves was the establishment, in the late 1990s, of a sister estate to Harlan in Napa Valley: Bond.

Bond would make wines from specific vineyards, all planted with 100% Cabernet Sauvignon, deemed by Harlan and his team to be the best of the best in the region. The stated aim was to create “Grand Cru” quality wines, from specific sites whose terroir – combination of climate, soil and positioning – had been analysed closely.

A vineyard with mountains and a lake in the distance

Melbury vineyard

Grand Cru is, itself, a challenging term in the wine world: in some places, like Burgundy, it generally denotes the very best, and most expensive, wines in the region and the world. In others, like Champagne, it is less meaningful, in Bordeaux the term “Grand Cru Classe” covers hundreds of estates at different levels, and in Napa it has no formal meaning at all.

But a self-certification from the Harlan family has a meaning of its own, given their position at the top of the Napa Valley wine tree. And Bond is all about legacy: just as Domaine de la Romanee Conti has been known as among the very best physical vineyard sites in Burgundy for centuries, so Bill Harlan’s stated intention is for Bond’s vineyard site to be known as the very best places to create Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley for hundreds of years to come.

And it takes many years to make, and judge a great wine: for a great wine is not one that tastes excellent when it is five years old, but one that develops and is magnificent when it is 50. So, the jury is by necessity still out, but that doesn’t stop us from dipping our toes in the judgement pool.

A vineyard surrounded by fur trees

Pluribus vineyard

With that ambition in mind, Darius Sanai settled down for a Zoom tasting with Max Kast, Bond’s Estate Director and Cory Empting, Bond’s managing director of winemaking, of wines from Bond’s five sites: Melbury, Quella, St Eden, Pluribus and Vecina. We have a little history here, because a few years back, Darius included a bottle of Bond Melbury in a tasting of the world’s greatest Cabernet Sauvignons, which he hosted for the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan at the Four Seasons George V in Paris, which he chronicled in GQ magazine.The Bond wine was the overall winner in a field that included the likes of Chateau Lafite, Chateau Margaux, and California’s Screaming Eagle.

A man in a suit and red wine sitting with a glass of red wine in front of bottles of wine

Max Kast, Bond’s Estate Director

Empting is an engaging and self-effacing tasting host, without a hint of pomp or self-aggrandisement, despite the desirability of his products. He told LUX that he is constantly examining new sites, making wines out of them to assess their potential, to see if any other wines can be permitted into the Bond club. For the moment, there are five, all of them sharing power, finesse, and a sense of grandeur. Each subtly different in character, these are attention-seeking wines in that they demand your full intellectual engagement: they would be the centrepiece of any dinner, like an extra guest.

a man in a brown gilet and blue shirt standing in front of barrels of wine

Cory Empting, Bond’s winemaker

Although we will all have our favourites, it is not possible to choose an objective winner here: Bond wines are about the character of these ultimate vineyard sites in one of the very greatest wine growing areas in the world.

The Bond wines (tasting notes by Darius Sanai); in order of tasting, not of preference. All wines from the 2013 vintage.

Bond Vecina
A kind of wildness here, amid the grandeur and size. Very savoury, umami and smoked bacon with mulberries. Also a refreshing twist. My personal favourite, and one to sip, on a hilltop, alone, contemplating sunset over the distant forested hills.

Bond Melbury
Big and rich, but also stylish and layered, not overwhelming. This would be the Bond wine to serve to a lover of Chateau Margaux, to show California’s equivalent, before racing away the next day in your Ferrari GTO.

Bond wines: Melbury, Quella, St. Eden, Vecina and Pluribus

Bond St Eden
Fascinating wine: one we felt was being opened far too young. Very structured, concentrated, packed with nuance, shielded by a shell at the moment: stones, berries, plums, Mediterranean herbs, it’s all there. Decant it ahead of time and serve to a collector of Rembrandts, next to one of their Rembrandts. It’s that grand.

Read more: Chef Heston Blumenthal: The Culinary Resurrector

Bond Pluribus
Pluribus is so concentrated, so dense, that it would be the dominant factor in a meal of Simmental beef with foie gras and a béarnaise sauce. There’s a black fruit nature to this wine, with a kind of intense, graphite power, you feel you should write a letter with it.

Bond Quella
This fascinating wine was quite closed, almost light, on opening, but transformed in the hours after our tasting to have a Burgundy-style elegance and lift, along with a freshness of mountain river beds and plenty of dense fruit. We’d find the oldest vintage available to drink now, or buy a case now to drink in 2040.

Find out more: bond.wine

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vineyards and the ocean in the distance with mountains

Colgin Cellars was founded by Ann Colgin in 1992

One of the greatest of all American wineries, Colgin, makes sublime wines from distinctive vineyard sites, and is now majority-owned by LVMH. CEO Paul Roberts, himself a wine world superstar, takes Darius Sanai on a tasting of its great cuvées and chats about the importance of geography
A man standing with a wine glass on a balcony with a lake and vineyards in the distance

Paul Roberts

One of the most compelling things about wine, for any serious wine collector, is the dramatic differences that can occur in quality, reputation and price, between wines that seem, on the face of it, extremely similar.

Any admirer of luxury goods can see why a Patek Philippe commands a greater price than a Swatch. But with fine wine, you can often have several bottles that, on the face of it, all appear to be Pateks, yet with some costing a multiple of tens, hundreds and in some cases, thousands, of times the price of the others.

This is most famously the case in Burgundy: wines made from the same grape type, in the same place, sometimes just across the road from each other, or occasionally from adjacent vines, can command prices so different you might think one was made in a factory and the other from moon dust.

The alchemy here is a combination of what is known as terroir (a blend of the exact soil, the aspect of the slope, the nanoclimate, and so on) and the people making the wine: and the differences are greatest in the world’s greatest wine regions.

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Paul Roberts believes in the importance of all these elements, and he should know. His in the unique position of, firstly, being one of the most successful master sommeliers in the US – an “MS” being a notoriously challenging position to achieve, requiring almost unfathomable theoretical and practical ability; and, secondly, being the CEO of one of the world’s great wine estates.

A road going into the distance with vineyards on either side

The Colgin estate is made up of three vineyards: Tychson Hill, Cariad and IX Estate

If you have been brought up on a diet of Bordeaux and Burgundy, you may not know Colgin, Roberts’ estate in Napa Valley. But you should. Colgin is, along with names like Screaming Eagle and Harlan, at the top of the tree of American wines, and commands prices to match: the same as those of a Château Lafite or Cheval Blanc.

He is also, as I discover when we speak over Zoom for this article, as passionate about the specific geographies within Napa Valley as any Burgundy producer is about the inflections of the slopes of the Côte de Nuits.

A view of hills and vineyards with the sun shining on it

Tychson Hill was originally planted in the 19th Century and belonged to Josephine Tychson, the first woman to build a winery in the Napa Valley

Colgin wines come from three distinct vineyards sites in Napa: Tychson Hill, Cariad, and IX Estate. Roberts, quietly spoken – almost gentle – thoughtful, articulate, is very keen to counter what he thinks (and we would concur) is a widely held misconception that Napa is just one warm, sunny valley. “It’s a small wine region, and it’s also one of the most diverse places on earth,” he points out. Due to repeated volcanic activity over the aeons creating dramatic differences in soil (“we have more than half the world’s soils,” he points out), the proximity to the cold Pacific Ocean, the location and topography of the mountain ranges on either side and San Francisco Bay to the south, Napa Valley is geographically intricate – more so even than Burgundy, which famously lies on a leeward slope just south of France’s continental divide and at a location which allows it to benefit from various unique climate effects.

Roberts flies the flag for Napa’s diversity and distinctiveness, and also for the fact that Colgin is what it is, partly because of the three sites the estate has chosen to make wines from. IX Estate is the most southerly of the three: to a neophyte that might suggest it makes the richest wines, but the neophyte would be wrong. This vineyard is located at between 335 and 425 metres altitude up in hills on the east side of the valley, and it’s actually located beyond the first hillside ridge, which means it partly faces east.

vineyards and a lake with mountains in the distance

Cariad vineyard is located in the western hills overlooking St. Helena

Cariad is on the west side of the valley, a few miles away, on the hillside but at a lower altitude, on volcanic soils. And Tychson Hill is at the lowest altitude, on the hills outside the pretty town of St Helena, further north. North in Napa terms normally means warm, because you are further away from the cool of San Francisco Bay (of the famous sea fog), but a gap in the nearby mountains lets in cool air from the Pacific…

All in all, the permutations of climate (exact location) and terroir (general wine vibe) in Napa are almost endless, and enough to make Burgundy and Bordeaux plain by comparison. “We are fortunate to have three of the best vineyard sites in Napa,” says Roberts. Tasting the wines, below, we can only concur. Colgin wines have power, subtlety, length, and a kind of dreaminess that only really great wines achieve. We would rank them as high as any Chateau we have tasted from Bordeaux.

wine bottles on a table in front of trees

Colgin wines include Tychson Hill, Cariad, IX Estate and IX Estate Syrah

The Tasting
Notes by Darius Sanai

Colgin IX Estate 2018
Although it contains a similar blend of grapes to a great Bordeaux, this wine shows how Napa is a world unto itself. Drippingly hedonistic yet also beautifully balanced, it’s a bottle to share with great friends over dinner at Bacchanalia on Berkeley Square in London.

Colgin IX Estate 2013
Similar blend, from the same high vineyard over on the east ridge of Napa Valley; this, with the benefit of a little age, is showing itself like an arrival at a ball at Versailles taking off their coat and allowing a glimpse of the diamond necklace. Needs the respect of a delicately cooked cut of Kobe beef.

green rows of vineyards

There are huge differences in the soil around the estate due to volcanic activities

Colgin IX Estate 2010
Diamond necklace and also those bespoke, emerald-studded Louboutins on show. At 13 years old, this is a wine that just suggests what it will be like at 30. Gloriously complex, but we would wait another 17 years.

Colgin Cariad 2018
An extraordinary wine for its savoury, velvety, stone-infused decadence. If this were from Bordeaux, people would be talking about it as a peer of Haut-Brion and Margaux. Young but so drinkable. One for diner à deux in your Chateau in la France Profonde.

a birds eye view of a vineyard and a lake in the distance

IX Estate was carved into an east-facing slope overlooking Lake Hennessey

Colgin Tychson Hill 2018
Another utterly distinctive wine; Roberts points out the volcanic soils here on the western side of Napa Valley. Layers and layers of summer fruits, with a controlled punch, and freshness. We would have this at Christmas with closest family, at the Gstaad Palace, with Simmental beef and a light peppercorn sauce, girolle mushrooms, and truffled mashed potato. The food can’t overwhelm the wine.

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

Colgin IX Syrah 2018
The outlier: from the IX vineyard, but made with Syrah grapes rather than the Cabernet Sauvignon blends above. Think of the greatest Hermitage wines but then amplify them through a Pivetta Opera sound system for richesse like you have never encountered. Extraordinary.

Find out more: colgincellars.com

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A corridor with a wooden plank leading to a view of vineyards
A man in red trousers and a grey shirt standing next to a woman in a white shirt and trousers standing on a terrace

Will and Amanda Harlan

Will and Amanda Harlan have taken over an American icon. The siblings are now running Harlan Estate, the legendary wine estate created by their father Bill Harlan, who famously set out in the 1980s to prove that America could create the equivalent of a Chateau Lafite. Included in the family’s holdings are two other top-end California wine estates, a luxury resort, and one of the world’s most exclusive private members’ clubs. Darius Sanai speaks with the new generation about succession, family harmony, and plans for the next 200 years

Chatting with Will and Amanda Harlan, you wouldn’t think they were royalty. Will, Amanda’s elder brother, is thoughtful, gentle in his mannerisms, philosophical but focussed in his thinking. Amanda is, ostensibly, more outgoing, more cheery and chatty, although plainly her social vibe hides plenty of deep intent – she was, earlier in life, a professional dressage rider who won gold and silver at the junior OIympics.

And although neither Will nor Amanda are actually royals, even in a my-great-uncle-was-a-Hapsburg, European extended way, they are royalty in an important sense. Their father, Bill Harlan, founded Harlan Estate in Napa Valley in 1984. A real estate developer (among other things), Harlan Senior set out to create a wine estate near California’s Pacific Coast that would rival the great names of France – Château Lafite, Cheval Blanc, Romanée-Conti – for both quality and reputation.

Harlan set himself a monumental task, but achieved it remarkably quickly. His fourth vintage was rated a perfect 100/100 by the uber-wine critic Robert Parker; his British counterpart Jancis Robinson of the Financial Times labelled Harlan one of the ten best wines of the 20th century. Harlan Estate then rode on a wave, partly of its own making, of enthusiasm and glamour for the top wines of California. The wave was fuelled by the 1990s dot com boom that minted thousands of new millionaires in the area: if your home was in Pacific Heights, why would you only champion wines from across the world in France?

hills and vineyards and a blue sky

Harlan Estate is on the west side of the fabled Napa Valley

Harlan Estate rapidly became a near-mythical wine, family owned, hard and very expensive to get, desire and scarcity fuelling each other. Part of it was a lust for the new, among the newly rich, that created the contemporary art boom of the era that has never stopped since; part of it was that Bill Harlan made exceptionally good wine, a true match for the great names of the old world, in a style that was more rich and less bitter than a classic Bordeaux. Harlan Estate was a top-level wine that didn’t need an instruction manual to be properly appreciated.

Harlan Snr contributed to his revered status by announcing a 200 year plan for the estate, to gain a long-term reputation equal to the world’s greatest chateaux. Napa Valley was turning from a beautiful area, between two mountain ranges, with some wine farms, to some of the most desirable real estate in the US. The area’s private members’ club, Napa Valley Reserve, part-owned by the Harlans, is one of the most exclusive in the world, with a $165,000 entry fee. Billionaires are left on waiting lists for the top Napa wines, led by Harlan and other names like Screaming Eagle.

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I first met Bill Harlan and his wife Deborah at an event in France in 2015. The division I headed at Condé Nast had just been asked to take over a wine and luxury magazine run by a Hong Kong wine writer, and the Harlans, along with other celebrated names in wine, were at the publication’s lavish launch party. They were incisive, distinguished, curious.

I then spent some time with Will and Amanda in Napa in early 2022. It was wintertime, but the ongoing drought and days of blue sky and uninterrupted sunshine made for a spectacular backdrop as we toured the Howard Backen-designed buildings and high vineyards, bordering forests, at Promontory. Promontory is another of the family’s properties: situated on a mountaintop separating Napa with neighbouring Sonoma, much of it is wild woodland, interspersed with vines, making wines with a cool, stony complexity.

We also visited Bond, another property of the family, another intellectual project, this time with the aim of making distinctive Cabernet Sauvignon out of single vineyards chosen to be distinctive. While much of the Harlan vision is inspired by Bordeaux, Bond has a vision rooted in Burgundy, where individual vineyards, and even areas within vineyards, are identified as the best of the best.

vineyard with trees and hills in the distance

St Eden Vineyard

And we tasted The Mascot, the brainchild of Will: a wine they would hesitate to call entry level, as the price of a bottle is more than a meal for four in a family restaurant in Europe, but which is aimed to be more accessible, both in terms of price and style. The Mascot’s raison d’être is that it is made from younger vines of all three properties (Harlan Estate, BOND, and Promontory). Initially, it was a blend made for the family table, but Will and Amanda convinced their father and the winemakers to let them offer it on its own. The Mascot is a delicious red wine that is both fresh and deep: a more playful Miu Miu to Harlan Estate’s architectural Prada.

One of the most striking aspects of the trip was a visit to the Napa Valley Reserve. This is part super-exclusive wine estate, part hyper-exclusive members’ club, on the eastern side of Napa Valley with views of the Mayacamas Mountains. Members pay very high fees to join, and as well as access to some quite sublime restaurants and spaces, they get to create their very own blend of top-level Napa wines.

I was amazed so little has been made of Napa Valley Reserve globally – a similar club in France or Tuscany would have attracted reams of magazine pages and petabytes of digital coverage, and would have hosted numerous fashion shoots and art shows. But royalty is discreet. Too discreet, I wondered, as I wandered around, thinking idly of who might create something at a similar level in Europe. Bernard Arnault of LVMH would make it a Cheval Blanc and commodify it. François Pinault of Kering has the pedigree in Chateau Latour (and Christie’s) but no hospitality experience. Michel Reybier of La Reserve group? Soho House? Sharan and Eiesha Pasricha of Maison Estelle?

Finally, I caught up with Will and Amanda together, over Zoom, to speak about succession and what it feels like taking over such a carefully assembled portfolio of estates and properties – the family also own Meadowood, a luxury hotel resort in a wooded valley on the edge of Napa – with a view to the next 200 years.

Will, ever thoughtful, sometimes philosophical, never predictable, tended to take the lead, as elder sibling and managing director. Amanda, with a smile in her voice, would defer but sometimes come in and make her point, enthusiastically and with an articulacy and economy of words.

Meadowood Spa Reception Lounge with sitting area and fireplace

The spa at Meadowood, the family’s luxury resort on the east side of Napa Valley

The impression was of the next generation, in a family succession, taking over from a powerful and charismatic father, who are taking the reins thoughtfully, respectfully, and with the same determination shown by their parents: and with the confidence to do what they wish, within the context of a 200 year plan.

LUX: What is it like to be part of a succession?

Will Harlan: That’s not a word we have internally used, but it is a succession at the end of the day. And this transition of generations, I think the most important word we find ourselves using is continuity. Being able to provide that structure and environment in which we can pass along the most amount of experience and wisdom and everything from the previous generations, not just of the family but of the team as well, so I think we find ourselves thinking more in terms of continuity.

LUX: Taking over a family business, do you ever feel daunted, ask yourself, what if I mess it up?

WH: I mean, there’s always going to be an element of that and I think it’s important to have an element of that, because without feeling that it’s daunting you might be missing, first of all just how much potential there, is, and I think you’d be missing a certain aspect of humility, and without that I don’t think you’re open minded enough to grow and continue to improve and evolve. As Amanda says, we’ve been doing this for a little bit and my learning curve feels vertical, it feels like we’ve been drinking from a fire hose, for me, a little over ten years and it doesn’t seem like the fire hose is turning off any time soon. So, there’s that element, but at the same time, I’m now building up a bank of things that I’ve now gotten the hang of, and some familiarity, enough that there is a little more balance between the comfort and discomfort of the daunting nature of the role.

Amanda Harlan: I was going to say, Will is a couple years ahead of me and I think in a very different way has been working very closely alongside my father, there was a very crucial passing of the baton the last few years, and on the visionary, philosophical side, has been a lot closer to it than I have. The first five or six years of my joining the business, I was out in the market, so for me, I think it was very exciting and maybe the daunting part is just setting in a little bit. But I do have to say, maybe along with the inevitable rollercoaster of emotion that comes day to day, I’d say the most exciting and maybe solid part for me is that I’m not doing it alone, and that I have my brother and Cory [Empting, Managing Director of Wine-growing] and a really solid team around us, that is arm in arm with us as we climb this proverbial mountain. But I can’t speak for my brother.

A corridor with a wooden plank leading to a view of vineyards

Promontory, the Harlan family’s newest property, has a winery designed by Howard Backen with long, organic sightlines

LUX: What are hardest things that you have to do day-to-day in the business?

AH: I mean I would say, a lot for me of this steep learning curve… my studies took me to other places, studying psychology, studying sociology, being very close with people and human behaviour and I think as I delve deeper into leadership and management and learning from our team and my parents and with Will and Cory, I think a lot of the thing I’m learning most is how businesses run, how finances run, a lot of these behind the scenes inner workings, of opening the hood of the car and recognising you’ve driven this whole thing but you didn’t really understand how it worked. So maybe the most challenging thing for me right now is really trying to get up to speed with my contemporaries within the company. And I think, time. I find myself on a day-to-day basis challenged with how can I maximise the time and I do my best to prioritise but when you’re so close to something and so passionate I find myself challenged with time to get everything done with intent and great focus. That’s what I would say my greatest challenge is.

WH: I think maybe the thing that hasn’t come as naturally to me, while I love the wine business, is the management of people aspect. It is just such a different kind of role and I think that is the place where I’m really trying to put in the work to improve: management, leadership, as we go through this generational shift, I think that’s the place where I find myself feeling it every day.

LUX: Will, is there pressure being your father’s son?

AH: I mean, in some ways. There’s an expectation, whether or not that’s what the world expects or what the team expects, there’s always going to be, at least for me, this drive and dedication to go further and beyond and always attempting as a team to realise our potential and go beyond anything the first generation could have.

LUX: And with the wines themselves, obviously you want to keep things on track, everyone wants to improve what they already have, but is there room for improvement?

WH: I feel really strongly about this. Yes, of course. There’s room for improvement. It takes generations to really understand a piece of land and you take Harlan Estate, no one farmed the land before us, we’re the first people to farm this plot and to think we’ve got it figured out would be almost hilarious.

LUX: We spoke about the 200-year plan, so it’s now 200 years’ time from now, and my successors are creating a book on 200 and something years of Harlan and they’re speaking to your successors. What are they going to write about the second generation? What will you have done by the time you hand down to whomever you’ve have handed down to?

A wooden house lit up

A reception at the Napa Valley Reserve

WH: I feel like they may recount that the first generation was able to identify the land, and able to put the elements together to form the foundation, and the second generation was really able to build on top of that and understand the character of the place, understand the latent identity of this place, and really was able to refine the translation of this into the wine so that by the end of our tenure, people see each one of these, Harlan Estate, Bond, Promontory, as really independently deserving of being at the table among the really fine wines of the world. And at the end of that fifty years in front of me, we will have had the benefit of having wines that are now 50,60,70 years old that can show, that can prove that not only are these compelling when they’re young, but they take on and can achieve these facets that we see in some of the old wines after some serious ageing.

AH: To add to that, I think really doubling down on having our internal organisation be somewhere that’s really committed to great human capital and flourishing in a lot of ways, and us being a place that people hope and dream that maybe they’ll also have children that will be inspired and want to also join our family business. So, those are the only other two little things I would probably add on that I would love to be remembered and recognised as our generation was part of.

LUX: Do you ever disagree about anything?

WH: In general; I might make the general statement that our family is fairly aligned in terms of feeling strongly that the direction and vision that we’re on is the right one. For instance, I don’t think there’s ever been a case where my dad and I were misaligned on the vision, maybe we disagree on how to get there, but we’re totally there on what the potential is, what the opportunity is, and where we feel we can take things. I think our default setpoint, even with Amanda and I, I think is that we’re pretty aligned. Amanda and I are very complementary in terms of our skillsets and the things that we can bring to the business, so I’ve at least never felt that competitive nature that could come and maybe misalign priorities or intent.

AH: I totally agree. I’ve always felt very grateful to have a brother that was really solidly great at all the gifts that weren’t bestowed upon me.

WH: And vice versa!

swimming pool surrounded by deckchairs and palm trees

Meadowood Fitness Pool

LUX: What are those gifts? What are your complimentary skills?

AH: I mean, I feel very very grateful that I have a brother who is also very much like my father in being a visionary who also comes at life with a very philosophical view, who is very thoughtful and intelligent and brilliant, but is also not afraid to go beyond and dream big, but is also very fair and very kind and I think is very strategic, and able to be a problem solver in a way that I was never able to. But I think as a leader and someone who constantly has his finger on the pulse of what’s happening, globally, not just in the world of wine, but I think across many different platforms and fields, it is very settling for me knowing that someone, especially my brother, is able to see beyond the scope on which we are focused every day.

WH: Well first of all, thank you Amanda. And again, vice versa. Amanda’s natural setpoint of just being someone that cares deeply and can connect with people, I don’t care who it is on the planet, from celebrities and royalty, down to really pretty much anybody that she comes across. And connect in a very real, authentic, and caring way, and the relationships that she builds effortlessly, I think, are things that I’ve found myself oftentimes having to work very hard at. We have to engage and bring people into what we’re doing, not just from an intellectual standpoint but from an emotional standpoint, and there needs to be some connection on a human level, that comes to Amanda very naturally. She accomplishes at a very high level, but also very authentically and in a very caring way.

AH: Making me tear up over here Will. Thank you.

LUX: Is the focus then to take what you already have to another level?

WH: It certainly is from my perspective and the word focus, is really important, to me but also to where we are. In the evolution of our family business, we now have three wine growing endeavours here in Napa Valley: Harlan Estate, Bond, and Promontory, in addition to Meadowood and the Napa Valley Reserve. We have these three pillars, we founded each one of these in the same 25-year period of time, and I think we all feel and believe so strongly in the potential of each one of them. In that we are just barely scratching the surface today of the potential of each one.

valleys and hills with trees and vineyards and fog in the distance

The vineyards at the Promontory property are set high in the hills amid wild woodlands

As we understand the land of each of them, really elevate our ability to translate the instinct and latent character of the land into the wine, we see a much more exciting and compelling potential by retaining a certain focus and going deeper and deeper and deeper and bringing our wines to the next level, next level, next level. That to us is more in line with our culture and our philosophy and our vision, rather than expanding the other direction, broadly and trying to grow more in size or in breadth, or in diversity of different business, ancillary or lateral moves. That’s how I look at it, but it’s not for lack of belief in potential, evolution, and growth. But the growth for us is more this deepening than size or breadth.

LUX: Amanda, you are responsible for Meadowood [the luxury resort] and also Napa Valley Reserve [the private members’ wine club and estate]?

AH: Indeed, it’s under one umbrella. We are diving deeper into the next iteration of what Meadowood is and will become, as well as the Napa Valley Reserve and the generational shift that is occurring.

LUX: And with Meadowood and Napa Valley Reserve, isn’t that a completely different business to making great wines? And is your membership becoming more international?

WH: Well, the Napa Valley Reserve has a wine growing element to it. We have vineyards, a winery, that’s part of the concept. In terms of membership, I would say about half of our new members that are coming in aren’t necessarily local members. We have a much broader group of folks that are interested in what we’re doing at the Napa Valley Reserve. So when they do come to Napa Valley, from, let’s say Hong Kong, once or twice a year, they are able to create tradition within their family and have their family come and spend time in the vineyard, really work closely with our team, creating their own blend and maybe tweaking it a little bit each time they’re here, year after year. We have a couple of events that are the pinnacles of bringing our membership together a couple of times a year.

Wanting to be closer to nature was accelerated during the pandemic, and I think creating new tradition within the 21st century has been a big part of bringing family together that may live all over the world, but come together a few times in the year, predominantly around flowering, when the vines are flowering, and then harvest time. So, I would definitely say that with the current international members we do have, we have had a huge upswing since the pandemic happened and folks really wanting to be closer to nature.

Entrance with flowers

Napa Valley Reserve Entrance

LUX: With the wines – you could sell everything you produce several times over in the US alone. Yet you enjoy selling worldwide.

WH: From a very early age, we were brought up with this very long-term vision, this 200-year plan that my dad talked about quite a bit. Part of this is that we have got to think quite far down the road, oftentimes outside the span of our own lifetimes, which takes a while to get used to, really with the vision of feeling that, first of all Napa Valley, as a region has the potential to be considered among the fine wine regions of the world. We’re a younger region, but I think we’ve made some pretty good strides in that direction. And on top of that, the particular interest within the Napa Valley is identifying those plots of land that aren’t just of the highest quality, but have that very specific and differentiating and distinctive character, that we can produce wines ourselves that deserve to be among the finest in the world.

Read more: Lamberto Frescobaldi on 1000 years of tradition and wine

And I think in order to create the strongest foundation for this family business in the long run, we felt it was pretty important to have an international scope, not just from a business perspective, being able to be very diversified in our audience, but also in terms of credibility. There’s a huge amount of significance of being able to say that not only are we a great wine in America, but we can really gain this credibility with the international trade, critics, collectors, etc, and having that international presence that positioning outside our home market was really important as we build this very long term foundation, being considered really among the fine wines of the world.

LUX: Is there a snobbery among old world collectors, that they look down on wines from from Napa, or are we over that?

WH: No, of course you still find a little bit of that, and I don’t think that will ever totally go away. Maybe a hundred years from now it’s a little bit more economical, but no, I think there’s still a lot of work that we need to do, being out in the world, building relationships, telling our story, but more importantly showing the wines. Not necessarily just the wines from this year, but showing the wines that we made thirty years ago and showing that these can age and can actually develop and evolve into really elegant and compelling wines, that’s on us, we’ve got to be out there doing the work to build that understanding.

A tankroom filled with wooden barrels

Promontory Fermentation Room

LUX: For me, Promontory is on a level with Chateau Cheval Blanc. But how do you achieve that sort of brand equity for Promontory when there isn’t that much of it around?

WH: We just need to be in the market, building these relationships internationally. What Cheval Blanc has that we don’t have is time. They’ve got a storied history. They’ve been doing this for multiples of the amount of time that we’ve been doing this, and so I think there’s just a market presence because of that historical awareness for Cheval Blanc, and at this point there’s a pretty big delta between that and us. Can we diminish that gap, of course. That’s what we’re going to be trying to do, that’s what time on its own will do, I don’t think we can circumvent that completely. Even just to be mentioned in the same realm as some of these great wines of the world, for us is inspiring, and it feels like an honour to be considered among these.

Find out more:

harlanestate.com
www.promontory.wine
www.bond.wine

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Reading time: 21 min
Woman in a white and black top holding a pink case of champagne standing next to a man in a blue shirt and black blazer
A group photo of women and two men on either side of the group

Louis Roederer CEO Frédéric Rouzaud, Prize judges and LUX contributing editors Maria Sukkar and Maryam Eisler, Prize winner Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah, judges Carrie Scott and Brandei Estes, and LUX proprietor Darius Sanai

Philanthropists, art collectors and sustainability leaders gathered in London for the awarding of the inaugural Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability, masterminded by LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai under the aegis of Louis Roederer CEO Frédéric Rouzaud

Two women and a man smiling for a photograph

Sir Guy Weston, Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah and Ina Sarikhani Sandmann

A blonde woman wearing a green coat reading a catalogue

Clara Hastrup

Two women looking at a camera smiling

Maria Sukkar and Maryam Eisler

A woman and two men laughing

Simon Leadsford, Richard Billett and Olivia Capaldi

A man holding a champagne glass wearing a green t shirt and black jacket

Olu Ogunnaike

A woman holding a copy of LUX

Cheryl Newman

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Woman in a white and black top holding a pink case of champagne standing next to a man in a blue shirt and black blazer

Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah and Frédéric Rouzaud

A woman wearing a blue scarf and coat standing next to a woman in a green coat and another woman wearing a black suit

Lady Alison Myners, Maryam Eisler and Samantha Welsh

A man wearing a black jumper, white shirt and blue blazer

Justin Travlos

A woman wearing a peach coloured coat and black bag looking at a picture on a wall

Emilie Pugh

Woman in a white and black top holding a pink case of champagne standing next to two men in shirts and blazers

Darius Sarai, Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah and Frédéric Rouzaud

A woman in a white dress giving a talk

Alexandra Tilling

A woman in a multicoloured top standing next to a woman in a grey dress

Maryam Eisler and Angela McCarthy

pictures on a white wall

The shortlisted works of the Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability

Vinly on a window that says The Louis Roederer Photography Prize for Sustainability

The awards ceremony for the Prize was held at Nobu Hotel London Portman Square

A woman with blonde cornrows wearing black holding a champagne glass

Péjú Oshin

A woman in a black jumpsuit showing another woman an artwork

Hoda Shahzadeh and Candice Tucker

A man in a white shirt

Ola Shobowale

A man and woman holding pink cases of champagne

Akosua Viktoria Adu-Sanyah and Jasper Goodall

Find out more: louis-roederer.com

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

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Reading time: 9 min
vineyards and blue sky
vineyards and blue sky

The Clos de Tart buildings and vineyard rising directly behind the local village

A celebrated winery is acquired by one of the titans of the luxury industry. After a subtle transformation, Clos de Tart emerges with refreshed ancient buildings and upgraded winemaking. Darius Sanai visits François Pinault’s flagship estate in Burgundy. Photography by Martin Morrell

In the heart of the little village of Morey-Saint-Denis in eastern France, next to the old church and across the road from the boulangerie, is a very old, important-looking building with an archway entrance and an arched window set high in the facade, a cross-shaped window above. The village ends at this building, and beyond it are rows of vines, striped laterally across a hillside rising to a forest above.

Clos de Tart written under window

The cross above the arched window, a reminder of the Cistercian nuns who ran the estate for centuries

This building is the winery of the Clos de Tart, a name close to the hearts of wine lovers, who for centuries have prized the Grand Cru Burgundy red wine made here in the vineyard behind. The vineyard itself is a monopole, an area owned by one single owner, itself a rarity in Burgundy, where patches of land are often split into strips for different owners.

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The Clos as we know it was founded in 1141 by winemaking Cistercian nuns, who ran it until the French Revolution in 1789. Their manual press, carved from wood like a giant olive press, is a highlight of any visit to Clos de Tart. The estate became even more celebrated in 2018, when it was bought by the Pinault family through its holding company, Artémis Domaines. Owners of Château Latour and Christie’s auction house, the Pinaults are also the second most powerful force in the luxury-goods group through a majority ownership of Kering, the group owning Gucci, Saint Laurent, Balenciaga and many other premium brands.

brown roof with rows of vines

Views of the vineyard

Four years after the estate changed hands, I am sitting with Frédéric Engerer, CEO of Artémis Domaines and the man in charge of all the Pinault’s wine holdings, in an upstairs room in the winery, above a little courtyard, facing the vines. A refurbishment of the winery buildings has just been completed by Paris-based über interiors architect Bruno Moinard.

Details from the refurbishment by Bruno Moinard

The highlight of this gentle revitalisation is a tasting room on the upper floor of the main building, with windows looking out to the vines and trees beyond – a contrast to Burgundian lore that dictates that even the best wines are tasted in a damp, dark cellar with a view only of barrels.

beige stairs

Details at the estate

We are speaking ahead of a little concert planned at the winery that evening, featuring an octuor (octet) of musicians drawn from the Berlin Philharmonic and leading orchestras in France, an elegant celebration of the completion of the works. The Clos de Tart estate is another jewel in the crown of the Pinault family.

A cellar filled with barrels

The refreshed cellar, photographed by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

Quite aside from its holdings in luxury goods and art, its wine group now comprises one of the great estates of Bordeaux, in Château Latour; two Burgundy estates (Clos de Tart and Domaine d’Eugénie), the leading white-wine estate in the Rhône (Château Grillet) and a highly respected champagne house, Jacquesson. What next for Artémis Domaines, I ask?

6 barrels of wine

The vat room containing the precious vats of Clos de Tart’s red Burgundy wine

After a raised eyebrow and a shrug, Engerer offers a little hint. “In Burgundy, we are so happy to be here in Clos de Tart, but we have only red wine with both Burgundy estates, so rebalancing the two colours a bit would be amazing. In the Rhône it is the other way around – only white…”

green bushes and beige buildings

Views of the vineyard and the restored buildings at Clos de Tart

We should keep tuned for developments, it seems. Lovers of Clos de Tart should be in for a treat because the aim is to make one of Burgundy’s great wines – albeit one that doesn’t achieve the prices and desirability of its most famous labels, like La Tâche or a top Grand Cru Chambertin – even greater. But Engerer also wants to speak about the wine being made now.

table with windows, chairs, wine glasses

Aspects of the revitalised tasting room and Old Press Room

Ever methodical, he first talks about the potential of the raw materials: the grapes grown in the 18.5-acre rectangle that is the Clos de Tart vineyard, just above us. At the foot of the slope, he says, “you have this reddish soil, it’s not very deep and there’s a lot of limestone underneath. And this makes the wines very delicate, very complex.

spinning wheel in dark room

The tasting room and Old Press Room are a pinnacle of the estate’s elegantly simple renovation

There’s probably more complexity on the north side and a bit more structure on the south side. But even with those north/south differences, you move up the hill and the slope becomes much steeper at mid-point, and then you have deeper soil, and that’s where the sun heats the vines more and gives you a style that is richer, deeper, generally ripening a little bit earlier, with more muscle. And the muscle is even stronger when you go south than when you go north.”

stone steps and brick walls lit up leading to an arched door

Modernisation of the historic interiors by Bruno Moinard,

If that all sounds a little mind-boggling, it is, and Clos de Tart’s new guardians are in the process of working out just what potential they are sitting on. Engerer says a key development in the revived winery is the ability to make wines from small individual parcels of vines in the different positions in the vineyard, all the better to judge the balance of the final blend.

brown sofas and a coffee table in a glass and stone room

Viewpoints of the historic interiors, refurbished by Bruno Moinard

For the wine lover, the difference is in the tasting. Clos de Tart has always been a great Burgundy. But that evening, after the magical concert and as a sunny evening turned into a deep blue night, guests tasted some of the great vintages of the past, including 1990 and 2005.

old sealed wine bottles

A selection of vintages of Clos de Tart Grand Cru wines

We were also given a tasting of the first vintage made by Engerer’s team, headed by winemaker Alessandro Noli: the 2019. Just three years old, this should have been shy and immature compared to the past greats, but it just seemed like a more layered, more precise, more delineated and more delicious progression of the same elements.

Read more: A Tasting of the World’s Greatest Champagne Houses

Apparently, as the team understands the natural resources they have on their hands more with each year, things will only get better. In the meantime, we are more than happy to settle for a few cases of the 2019, ideally sipped over a rendition of Mendelssohn by eight talented musicians from the Octuor Éphémère, with the slopes of the Clos de Tart as a background.

Find out more: www.clos-de-tart.com 

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

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Reading time: 6 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.

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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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Reading time: 3 min
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 valley of vineyards in the sun
A valley of vineyards in the sun

Château Quintus, so named as the “fifth child” of the Domaine Clarence Dillon family group

From Bordeaux to Paris and back again, Domaine Clarence Dillon, under the stewardship of HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg, is delivering two of those most signature luxuries of French life, haute cuisine and Haut-Brion – and more besides, discovers Anna Tyzack

At Le Clarence, just off the Champs-Élysée, in the golden triangle of Paris, the staff are used to seeing familiar faces: not only the actors and politicians who dine there, but the guests who keep coming back. One distinguished French couple returns two or three times a week to enjoy haute cuisine and traditional service à la française in château- like surroundings; afterwards, they head back to their apartment to dance. So successful is head chef Christophe Pelé in recreating the French art de vivre, that Le Clarence, which opened in 2015, won two Michelin stars in one year, and in 2022 was honoured as the second finest restaurant in France, with a global ranking of 28th, in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.

two wooden doors opening to a room with a red chair and table with chandelier hanging over it

The group’s Le Clarence, which has won two Michelin stars and is ranked 28th in the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list

Le Clarence echoes the tastes and spirit of its founder, HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg, whose great-grandfather, Clarence Dillon, a Harvard-educated banker and Francophile, revived the fortunes of Château Haut-Brion, a Grand Cru on Bordeaux’s Left Bank, in 1935. The group also includes Château La Mission Haut-Brion, bought by Prince Robert’s mother, Joan Dillon, Duchess of Mouchy, in 1983.

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Prince Robert is devoted to his family legacy and became group president in 2008. Like his ancestors, the prince knows that the best way to preserve it is to innovate. Hence his decision in 2011 to expand the repertoire by acquiring a property now known as Château Quintus (meaning fifth in Latin, as the group’s fifth child), a Right Bank wine estate in the UNESCO World Heritage Site of St-Émilion, and in 2015 to bring the spirit of Domaine Clarence Dillon to a 19th-century townhouse, Le Clarence, in what could be described as the Mayfair of Paris. According to his devoted staff, the prince is not a man who likes to sit still and is permanently seeking new ways to capitalise on the company’s past to build its future.

A man wearing a blue shirt standing by a table and red curtain

HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg, the fourth-generation scion of the Dillon family to look after its winemaking legacy

The building was in a sorry state when the prince first stepped inside. Built in 1884 as an hôtel particulier (grand residence), it had been an ophthalmologist’s for many years and was in need of major renovation. Yet the prince could see it was the perfect private mansion to house the passions of Clarence Dillon – fine wine and gastronomy – in Paris. Over the next five years, he meticulously restored the courtyard, marble staircase and exquisite formal rooms. He designed the interiors by researching and imagining how each room would have looked in the past, sourcing 18th- and 19th-century furniture, paintings and carpets from auctions around the world. When builders discovered a vaulted wine cellar beneath the building, the prince resolved to open a fine-wine boutique, La Cave du Château, in the style of the grandest cellars of Bordeaux and Champagne, stocking Haut-Brion (which had been enjoyed by Samuel Pepys and Thomas Jefferson), along with other fine wines, spirits and secret vintages.

little finger food on a silver tray

Seasonal, creative haute cuisine at Le Clarence

The prince knew, however, that it was people who would bring Le Clarence to life – in particular a head chef to recreate the ethos of Domaine Clarence Dillon in Paris. He was determined to find a chef with their own ideas, style and expertise who would bring a blast of modernity to this historic house. After many months of searching, Prince Robert came across Christophe Pelé through word of mouth; Pelé had worked at some of the best restaurants in France before shocking the gastronomy world in 2012 by closing his two-star restaurant, La Bigarrade, to focus on learning more of his art. Prince Robert invited Pelé to cook for him at Haut-Brion, where, along with creating a world-class gastronomy and wine library, he has installed a kitchen fit for Michelin star- winning chefs. First thing in the morning Pelé headed off to the local market, then spent the day creating a menu that combined ingredients from earth and sea; Prince Robert was so impressed by Pelé’s ingenuity and creativity that he invited him to collaborate right away.

someone using a spoon to drizzle raspberry coulis on a dessert

Le Clarence has earned two Michelin stars since its opening in 2017

By 2017, Pelé had earned Le Clarence two Michelin stars, adding the ranking of 28th best restaurant in the world in 2022. There is no formal menu: each artful dish is inspired by a classic recipe and prepared uniquely for each guest to express terroirs, cultures and seasons, and served with a number of smaller dishes to complement the flavours. Pelé, a horse rider and nature lover, devotes a huge amount of time to cultivating relationships with his favourite farmers and producers.

A chef sitting in his apron on a green couch

Head chef Christophe Pelé, who prizes classic service à la française alongside his modern cuisine

He is adamant that if his guests are to taste the seasons, he has to be great friends with his fishermen, farmers and suppliers. For example, Pelé works with family company France Ikejime for the freshest fish, while the organic sourdough is from local Parisian bakery Ten Belles. But while his cooking is unashamedly modern, Pelé’s presentation and service is resolutely traditional. “Some say that the art of service à la française is outdated, but what we offer is as relevant now as it always was: the extraordinary luxury of taking your time,” Pelé maintains.

a white small starter with green leave son top on a white plate

Le Clarence has achieved the rank of second finest restaurant in France

A little over 600km away from Paris on Bordeaux’s Right Bank, the staff at Château Quintus are also aware of the significance of time and deep-rooted relationships. In 2013, the prince expanded this newly named estate, where some of the vines, planted to Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Malbec, date back 100 years, with an average age of 30 years. In 2021, he added another venerable château. Along with Jean-Philippe Delmas and Jean- Philippe Masclef, Haut-Brion’s most senior winemakers, the prince has adopted the same vine-by-vine, plot-by-plot approach used at Château Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut- Brion. “At Haut-Brion there are centuries of knowledge; here we’re starting afresh but we have the fundamentals,” explains Delmas, who is the third generation of his family to be in charge of producing Château Haut-Brion wines. “Château Quintus is deeply rooted in the heritage of St-Émilion, one of the oldest vineyards in the world. Now we’re applying principles from our other properties to get the very best from this ancient terroir.”

Vineyard with green leaves and red flowers with a blue sky and the sun shining

Château Quintus vineyards, lined with trees and wildflowers to nurture the terroir and promote biodiversity

The prince set out his intention for Quintus to become the new star of St-Émilion when he commissioned a huge sculpture of a dragon to tower over an estate promontory. The outlook of Le Dragon de Quintus is nothing short of intimidating, as surrounding vineyards belong to the Grand Cru estates of Château Ausone, Château Angélus and Château Le Dome, as well as Château Berliquet and Château Canon, whose owners, Alain and Gérard Wertheimer, own Chanel. Yet the first vintages of Château Quintus have received critical acclaim. At a blind tasting with 28 top wine tasters in spring 2022 in London, three of the Quintus vintages were scored in the top 15 of 48 peer wines, with the 2016 Quintus ranking fourth. Of four perfect scores, three went to Quintus. It seems Prince Robert’s ingenuity is paying off. “The aim at Quintus is to make elegant wine in the spirit of Haut-Brion with typicity of St Émilion’s Right Bank,” explains Mariette Veyssière, manager of Quintus, who previously worked at both Haut-Brion and Pétrus, and whose father and grandfather are both cellar masters in St-Émilion. “The fact that there are 42 acres of vines on three orientations surrounded by oaks and acacia gives us a huge palette when it comes to the blending process.”

A contemporary bottle of wine and an antique bottle of wine

A first vintage of Château Quintus, 2011, with an antique Haut-Brion bottle found in a pirate’s cache

As a fourth-generation wine producer, Prince Robert is well aware that, to make the best wine, you need to nurture the terroir – not just for the next vintage but for the coming decades. “‘Terroir’ is a big word in France; it means more than just ground – it’s the whole ecosystem,” says Veyssière. “We are very gentle with it; not just with each vine but the whole terrain; we have to try to envisage what it will be like in 10 and 20 years time.” At Quintus, 800 types of auxiliary fauna with more than 80 species of wildflower have been recorded, as well as a profusion of bats, bees, insects and birds. Each year, parts of the vineyard are replanted, hedgerows are relaid and more trees and wildflowers are planted. No insecticides are used, and any ploughing is done with care to avoid soil erosion. “In order to have the best grapes, the vines have to suffer a little; at the top of the limestone slope where it is rocky there is a natural limitation to how much they can thrive, but where the soil is more sandy and fertile, we grow grass to prevent the vines from growing too vigorously,” Veyssière explains.

Read more: Prince Robert de Luxembourg on wine, gastronomy & storytelling

Harvest at Château Quintus is a painstaking three-week process with each plot (74 per cent Merlot, 24.3 per cent Cabernet Franc and 1.7 per cent Malbec) harvested by hand. “We’re gradually learning the soul of the plots and the grapes,” Veyssière continues. Once the grapes are off the vine, they’re sorted in terms of quality using a gravity sorting system: the best flow down into tanks: steel and concrete for Merlot and Malbec, oak for Cabernet Franc. Then, in November, an expert panel, including the technical teams from Haut-Brion and La Mission Haut-Brion, decide on the blending of Château Quintus and the second wine, Le Dragon de Quintus. Only afterwards will it be put into barrels. “We decide on the blend first to ensure the oak is not masking the berries’ potential,” says Veyssière. “We use a ratio of 35 per cent new oak, 65 per cent old, as the newer the barrels, the oakier the taste of the wine.”

Flowers and leave with a church and it's spire in the background

A view of Château Quintus looking towards the spire of St-Émilion church

For Prince Robert, who in 2018 joined Primum Familiae Vini, an association of the world’s most historic and celebrated wine-producing families, Château Quintus is a cherished fifth child, not only as it expands Domaine Clarence Dillon into St-Émilion but because it fulfils the wishes of his great-grandfather. Clarence Dillon had great affection for the ancient vineyards around St-Émilion, yet he never succeeded in buying a château there. Nine decades later, the Quintus estate, like Le Clarence, is a nod both to the past and the future of Domaine Clarence Dillon. “When Prince Robert is here, he likes to walk slowly through the vines and oak copses, taking it all in,” says Veyssière. “There’s no better place to catch up with his team than walking through the terroir with the butterflies and bees and the church spire of St-Émilion in the distance.”

Prince Robert on creating a new legacy

HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg has been expanding the family business since taking over at the helm of Domaine Clarence Dillon, owner of Château Haut-Brion and other prestigious estates, in 2008. He speaks to Darius Sanai about the past, present and future.

On creating wine and gastronomic experiences
Wine is an experience. It has always been valuable only because it is something we share,
a shared experience. The fine-dining restaurant in Paris, Le Clarence, is part of that: we are bringing people into the heart of the world we have created. The style of the place is a reflection of the style of our Bordeaux château which I saw born around me when my mother redesigned and decorated it back in the early 1970s. I wanted to recreate that atmosphere in Paris. The cooking is totally different because it is hypermodern and the chef is innovative yet respectful of the ingredients. His cooking, to me, is close in style to the wines of Haut-Brion because it is subtle and elegant. It’s a composition. He treats all the contents of the plate in the same manner that our oenologues would the composition of the wine. You have a little bit of everything, but not too much of anything. It is a real art.

The exterior of a Parisian building with green awnings

The group’s Le Clarence restaurant, with wine boutique La Cave du Château, elegantly housed in a renovated 19th-century Paris hôtel particulier

On building a new carbon-neutral winery at Château Haut-Brion in Bordeaux
The mandate I gave to the architects emphasised that it is not about a cult of personality, about the architect or about ego – whether that is the winemaker, the owner or the architect. We have an extraordinary story here, and we have to really put the focus on that and share it. It can’t be heavy-handed. The design element should not be too important, either. As much as I like Disney and am a big fan, we can’t recreate that kind of experience at Château Haut-Brion. It is like our wine and food: it has to be very subtle.

The carbon-neutral project was born 10 years ago, so we have been working on this with the architects. The technology we are using has improved significantly over that time, so we are going to be in better shape than we anticipated when we started, whether it is the geothermal energy we are using or solar cells. It is important for all of us and the planet, but especially important when you have a long-term vision of a family company that we represent. We are farmers, and our most important asset is our soil and our planet – without that we are nothing, so we have to look after it. I think that is why we see a lot of positive messaging coming out of this space. We are physically using our soil to build our buildings because the construction is going to be significantly made of rammed earth, so we are extracting our soil and we will have that reflected in the walls of our chai building. It is an exciting message, and we will literally be able to see quite gravelly soils within the actual walls. Some of it will be more traditional construction, but much of it will be rammed earth.

On creating a new St-Émilion first-growth wine, Château Quintus, on land that was previously three older properties
Creating a new name and brand ultimately means the promise of quality to the consumer. The reason for creating a new name is that we are not trying to make a better version of what was there before. We are making a totally different, better wine than all those estates. The selection process of the grapes for the wine is so drastically different compared to what was done beforehand. It is a totally different way of making this Right Bank wine. We are adopting the same kind of principles that we have at the Left Bank at Château Haut-Brion and Château La Mission Haut-Brion. It is daunting, but, ultimately, it is very exciting.

While the reconstruction of Château Haut-Brion continues, visitors can experience the group’s wines and hospitality at its new Pavillon Catelan, Bordeaux

Find out more:
domaineclarencedillon.com
le-clarence.paris
chateau-quintus.com

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

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Reading time: 13 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.

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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
wooden barrels in a brick cellar with yellow lights
wooden barrels in a brick cellar with yellow lights

In 1141, Cistercian nuns from the Tart Abbey acquired the vineyards that later became Clos de Tart

Francois Pinault’s historic Burgundy estate hosts an evening of music and wine in the vineyards of Burgundy, to celebrate its renaissance. LUX Editor in Chief, Darius Sanai, joins an exclusive gathering.

Frédéric Engerer, CEO of the Pinault family’s Artemis Domaines wine estates group, held quite an evening to celebrate the revitalisation of the fabled Clos de Tart estate in Burgundy under the family’s aegis. The family headed by luxury goods magnate Francois Pinault, who also own Chateau Latour among others, bought Clos de Tart in 2018 and its centuries old buildings have been reworked lovingly to refresh their feel.

A man standing in a vineyard

Frédéric Engerer, CEO of Artemis Domaines

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An orchestra known as the Octuor Ephemère, drawn from the ranks of the Berlin Philharmonic and orchestras in Paris, played a selection of pieces by Mendelssohn, Mozart and Duke Ellington to a small but highly exclusive crowd comprising some of Burgundy’s most celebrated wine estate owners and some of Artemis Domaines’ most significant clients from around the world.

an orchestra playing in a white stone room

The orchestra performing in a room at the 1200 year old wine estate, recently revitalised by Paris based architect to the stars, Bruno Moinard.

The wine itself, one of Burgundy’s most famous, made from 100% Pinot Noir from a single parcel of land above the buildings, is also receiving an upgrade to even dizzier heights with the help of newly appointed winemaker Alessandro Noli.

A group of men standing in a stone room holding glasses of wine

Some of the wine world superstars:
Jean-Marc Roulot, Frédéric Engerer, Pierre Morey, Jean-Louis Chave, Etienne de Montille, Éric Rousseau, Pablo Alvarez and Clos de Tart winemaker Alessandro Noli

The evening concluded – for agreeably long time – with a tasting from magnums of Clos de Tart from 1970, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2005 and 2015.

a brochure and a vineyard in the background

A unique programme among the vines in Burgundy

Read more: Top Picks from Bonhams’ Gstaad Sale

There was also a little bit of the 2019, Noli’s first vintage, on show. That was our favourite: even more layered, even more sensuous. We hope it’s not being disloyal to say we enjoyed the evening even more than parties over the years given by brands like Gucci and Bottega Veneta, owned by the family’s Kering Group. Santé!

Find out more: clos-de-tart.com

Photography by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

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Reading time: 2 min
An arrow sign saying 'Red Rock Terrace' with bushes and a pink rose
An arrow sign saying 'Red Rock Terrace' with bushes and a pink rose

Diamond Creek Vineyards was founded in 1968 in Napa, California. Image courtesy of Diamond Creek

Diamond Creek is a name that resonates among the most discerning international wine collectors. Its wines, made from fully organic vineyards with minimal environmental damage, combine distinctiveness, complexity and sophistication. Diamond Creek’s Red Rock Terrace, Volcanic Hill, and Gravelly Meadow, are all based on Cabernet Sauvignon, and all priced around the same elevated level, yet are subtly but distinctly different in character. LUX meets President of Diamond Creek Vineyards, Nicole Carter and Graham Wehmeier, winemaker at the estate, which is now owned by the Louis Roederer champagne house, for a conversation and tasting over Zoom

Graham Wehmeier, winemaker at Diamond Creek:

“One of the magical aspects of this place that you have, just a stone’s throw away, obviously different soils and very different wines as well. To the point where even if you are not a collector or a wine geek or you didn’t know what terroir means or you don’t care, you could still taste the difference [between the different wines], it is that clear from glass to glass.

A vineyard with a road curving round and trees

Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow Vineyard. Image courtesy of Diamond Creek

The vineyards are very different in terms of temperature, Gravelly Meadow being the coolest, Volcanic Hill being the warmest. When we taste them side by side, the hand print of the three vineyards is quite strong.

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The altitude difference is 30 meters between Red Rock and Volcanic Hill, the top of Red Rock is almost level with the top of Volcanic Hill, then they both go down to the creek, which is where Gravelly Meadow is. It is the lowest, that is also why it is so cool. The cooling down there is so noticeable, on a hot day.

The creek has a big effect, in terms of soil difference. The creek’s soil for whatever geological reasons really stops on the north side of the creek and then the red soil starts the south of the creek.

A house in the distance surrounded by grape vines

The Diamond Creek Winery. Image courtesy of Diamond Creek

I would agree that Gravelly Meadow has a taste of wet stones. I have no idea if it is something the grapes actually absorb; I would absolutely not rule out that grapes on rocky soil absorb the smell of those rocks, they are sitting there all summer long. It is very romantic, and one of the great things about Diamond Creek: Red Rock gives you these red earth flavours and Gravelly Meadow gives you these gravelly flavours and Volcanic Hill just tastes like a volcano in its flavour spectrum. ”

grapes on a vine

Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Image courtesy of Diamond Creek

Tasting notes, by LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai:

We tasted the three celebrated single vineyards wines from Diamond Creek from the 2011 and 2018 vintages. 2011 was an interesting vintage in Napa Valley, relatively cool and wet, it was initially looked down on by some influential critics. But cool for Napa is not the same as cool in Northern Europe, and actually wines created by skilled winemakers from top vineyard sites were quite outstanding and balanced, suitable for palates that don’t want the fruit bomb type wines some Napa estates produce, particularly in hotter vintages.

Read more: A new photography prize for sustainability is launched

The tasting focussed on two vintages of its three celebrated single-vineyard wines, Gravelly Meadow, Volcanic Hill and Red Rock Terrace. Made from three near-adjacent vineyards, all based on Cabernet Sauvignon, they have very different characters, due to the differences in soil, temperature and aspect between the three vineyards, a perfect illustration that the concept of terroir can be as powerful in California as it is in Burgundy, where it reflects very distinctive wines, made from the same types of grape, from nearby vineyards.

A vineyard and a road

Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill Vineyard. Image courtesy of Diamond Creek

2011 Diamond Creek Gravelly Meadow:
This is the vineyard by the creek at the bottom of the property, cooler than the others and as its name suggests, surrounded by stones. Sublimely balanced wine, with stones, slightly dusty tannins, cool blue fruit, a little meatiness. Improved for hours.

2011 Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace:
Richness and tannin in balance, with an underpinning of medium-ripe, almost smoky fruit. Hints of freshly-rolled Havana cigars. More punch than the Gravelly Meadow, but beautiful equilibrium.

A black and white photo of a man and woman

Al and Boots Brounstein, founders of Diamond Creek Vineyards. Image courtesy of Diamond Creek

2011 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill:
Denser, lots of filaments of black fruit, plenty of power, and a wine that would match an umami cut of steak, like a bavette, with the acidity to match up to a cuisson a l’échalotte.

2018 Diamond Hill Gravelly Meadow
Lashings of stones, lots of blue and red fruits, a kind of transparent limpidity. A wine to enjoy by itself, and also one to keep in the cellar for as many years as you can bear as it will only improve. Pretty much unique: although if you are a fan of the great and classy Bordeaux second growths like Chateau Pichon Comtesse (in the same ownership), you will love this wine.

A vineyard with flowers growing on the side and sun shining on the trees

Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace Vineyard. Image courtesy of Diamond Creek

2018 Diamond Creek Red Rock Terrace
Wow! Dense yet light, layers of opulence but with a kind of restraint that seems to be the hallmark of this estate. Porterhouse steak with mushrooms; or maybe even just the mushrooms, on a brioche.

2018 Diamond Creek Volcanic Hill
A big wine with rich fruit, but balanced and defined, with definite tannic offset, in no way an unbalanced Napa cliche. Darkness and light in one wine, and so many layers. One to hang on to for 10 years, if you can find it, and if you can bear doing so. We don’t approve of foie gras, but if we did, we would recommend it as an accompaniment; as it stands, go for some marbled Wagyu beef, or a mushroom and truffle tart with a hint of olive oil from a single estate in Tuscany.

Find out more: diamondcreekvineyards.com

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Reading time: 5 min
Tree and house
Tree and house

Keythorpe Hall Private House and Walled Garden, Leicestershire, England

Once a Downton Abbey-style aristocratic home, Keythorpe Hall in Central England has reinvented itself as a sustainable private-hire venue for eco-conscious house parties

The experience

Keythorpe Hall sleeps up to 14 people in seven bedrooms in the main house. We took the corner suite with floor-to-ceiling windows looking out onto the hills of Leicestershire, a couple of hours’ drive north of London. The room was like something from a Brontë novel – with blush-coloured soft furnishings, a rattan bedstead, shutters, and folding screen. In the bathroom, there was escapism of a different kind, with a freestanding shower resembling the Great Glass Elevator in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory set beside a hot pink bathtub.

Sustainable thinking provides superior comfort. Bed linen is made from 100% Oeko Tex certified cotton. Bath products, created using botanicals, are sourced from small businesses 15 minutes down the road. The house is heated using a biomass boiler which runs on local woodchip for its energy source, and so is the Japanese hot tub on the terrace, which invites a kind of eco-therapy in the great outdoors.

Bedroom

One of Keythorpe Hall’s seven guest rooms

The food & drink

Chefs Peter Johansen and Bent Varming create bespoke menus for guests based on what’s in season. Fruit and vegetables are grown in Keythorpe’s 1.8 acre walled garden, where a quality not quantity mindset means they grow for flavour rather than yield. When we took a walk around the garden with head gardener and wild food expert Claudio Bincoletto, we spotted rainbow chard, wild rocket, and daikon – all of which reappeared on our plates later that evening.

Of the seven ultra-fresh courses we sampled, our favourites were the brill with beurre blanc, rapini and golden ball turnip, and the sea bass with beetroot and toothache pepper. After mains, the Baron Bigod brie (the only traditional raw milk Brie-de-Meaux style cheese produced in the UK) and apple brioche was particularly well accompanied by a glass of Nyetimber Demi-Sec, a sparkling wine produced just a couple of counties away in Kent.

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Responsible for personalising wine pairings at Keythorpe Hall is Bert Blaize, award-winning sommelier and author of Which Wine When. While the wine cellar is available for formal tastings, we opted for something a little less vinous: a vermouth-making class with Blaize, using botanicals foraged from the grounds. (Just don’t make the same mistake as we did, and sign up for a one-on-one session at 10am on a Saturday morning.)

Dining room

Eco-conscious gastronomy at Keythorpe Hall

The design

Few can say that they have taken a shower in front of a 2.5-metre mural of a Tudor aristocrat. But then again, the owners of Keythorpe Hall aren’t ones to pay homage to its heritage through any conservative means.

Read more: How to create a truly sustainable luxury hotel

Barbara van Teeffelen and husband Giles have spent the past decade at local auctions and Christie’s sales restoring the private collection of the original owning family while beginning a contemporary art collection of their own. Walk into the reception hall and you will be greeted by two austere, seventeenth-century faces framed on opposing walls. Enter the lounge, and you’ll find contemporary works by Polish artist Marcin Dudek and Selma Parlour’s neon, geometric canvases.

Bathroom

One of Keythorpe Hall’s guest bathrooms

Beyond the property

Leicestershire is less famous than the neighbouring Cotswolds, but it is still English countryside at its best. Keythorpe Hall is close to the market towns of Uppingham and Oakham, famed for its antique shops and galleries and shopping respectively. Rutland Water, one of Europe’s biggest man-made lakes, is 10 minutes away.

Sofa

Old art meets new at Keythorpe Hall

Any areas for improvement?

Keythorpe Hall’s owners are candid about its shortcomings. The huge showerheads are not conducive to reduced water consumption. Fish cannot be sourced locally, but must instead be transported from the coast. But the place is proof that sustainability can be synonymous with superior flavours and comfort, and bravo for the effort.

The experience: 8.5/10

Responsible culture rating: 8/10

Rates from £6,000 per night for full use of the house and grounds. Packages can be tailored to include all meals, drinks and service. Book your stay: keythorpehall.co.uk

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Reading time: 3 min
Two women standing in a vineyard
Two women standing in a vineyard

Left to right: Naoko and Maya Dalla Valle

We taste some of the most admired vintages of Napa Valley, through the decades, with two generations of the owning family of the Dalla Valle estate, Naoko and Maya

Naoko and Maya Dalla Valle make some of the most magical wines in the world. From their vineyards in Rutherford, in California’s Napa Valley, the mother-and-daughter proprietors of the eponymous winery create red wines which combine perfume, subtlety, style and power, that have become cult acquisitions for collectors. They also score high in the increasingly important sustainability stakes, as all the estate’s vines are farmed organically.

Dalla Valle was started by Naoko and her husband Gustav in 1986; it shot onto the wine world map in the early 1990s, when Robert Parker, the super-critic and then the man who could make or break a high-end winery, gave a perfect 100/100 score to their flagship wine, Maya.

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As well as being their most prized wine, made from their best vineyards, Maya was their daughter, then a baby. Thirty years later, Maya is the winemaker and increasingly active in running the estate. Parker no longer makes or breaks a wine’s image, but standards are still the same. The Dalla Valle wines, made of Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, come from vineyards on the Rutherford Bench, just above the valley floor of Napa and home to what wine enthusiasts would call some of the best “terroir” in the region, which now produces some of the world’s most expensive wines.

The two wines we tasted on our Zoom tasting and chat are celebrated for an elegance, complexity and sophistication that is not always found in the great (in every sense) wines of the Napa Valley. Below are short extracts of our conversation, and our tasting notes.

green vineyard with a pathway in the middle and mountains in the distance

LUX: Can you go back in time and tell us about making your first wines?
Naoko Dalla Valle: We created the Cabernet Sauvignon in 1986 commercially. Then 1987, we purchased more land from the neighbour and we planted additional about five acres of Cabernet sauvignon. And that turned out to be the best vineyard on the property and then we combined with that highest quality of the Cabernet franc we produced, and decided to create this special wine called Maya. People think she is named after wine, she came first! We immediately got noticed by Robert Parker and we immediately started getting very high scores and then by 1990, we got 99 points. For the 1992 vintage, we received 100 points from Robert Parker, we were the second winery in America to receive that score. That put us on the map. We have been fortunate to be able to maintain the quality.
Maya Dalla Valle: I would also point out the fact that, my father unfortunately passed away in winter, December 1995. So shortly after we had learnt about this 92 vintage Maya, so it was also a very sentimental moment but also for my father, he passed knowing that we were going to be ok. I am first generation American, both my parents came from different countries [Japan and Italy]. My mother had the choice to sell the winery and go back to Japan to work. We had family there, she could have easily have done that, but she had grown a fondness and a deep love for our property and the vineyard and land and winemaking, that she really took this business to next level.

LUX: What makes your terrain special?
Maya Dalla Valle: We are on the east side of Napa Valley, and it is about 500 feet elevation at the peak. What’s interesting is that this little bench that we sit on is a result of a landslide that occurred four million years ago, from volcanic origin, so we have volcanic iron rich bedrock soil… things are constantly moving. We often see these small boulders pop up in the vineyard each year through the surface. It makes us wonder sometimes if we are farming rocks or farming grapes.

a woman with two dogs

Maya Dalla Valle and her corgis

LUX: You represent a generational change of winemaker. Has there been a generational change of consumer preferences?
Maya Dalla Valle: The younger consumer is not the same kind of buyer as the previous generation. They seek more authenticity and are able to connect with your brand. Then they become more loyal. You need to show them what you are doing in a way they can feel like they connect with you. We talk a lot about our sustainability, we are organic, we did organic certification for our vineyard to show accountability of what we do.

The tasting: (notes by Darius Sanai)

Dalla Valle Maya 1990
Scents of black olive, truffles, perfume top notes, a wine you could wear to the ball at the Chateau de Versailles. At the same time it is rich and dense, but not at all heavy, on the palate. Tastes develop in the mouth for a long time. One of the great wines of the world today, at 32 years old, but I would like to try it again when it is 64. The star of the show.

Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon 1992
Very deep, layered wine, stratified, almost. Lots of muscle, black fruits and herbs. One for Kobe beef, simply grilled, on a Friday evening alone.

Dalla Valle Maya 2010
Like a young Russian prince wearing a cloak. Beautiful but quite closed to start with; opened up after half an hour of conversation, to reveal a complex, surprisingly delicate personality.

a vineyard and mountains in the distance

Dalla Valle Vineyard

Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Quite different to the Maya, remarkable that it is grown from land so nearby. Full and rich, black fruits and mountain herbs, and a zinginess that makes it quite distinctive. To share with an old friend, in your mountainside ranch in Wyoming.

Read more: Luxury Travel Views: Royal Champagne Hotel & Spa, Épernay

Dalla Valle Maya 2018
Expected this to be very closed, as it’s so young, but this is like walking into a jewellery shop, with a multitude of colours of flavour. Dazzling stuff, and you would drink it while celebrating your latest deal, but with a hint of guilt, because it will plainly be so much better in decades.

Dalla Valle Cabernet Sauvignon 2018
A rich Napa cabernet, meaning power and weight, and also with a lightness, meaning people who prefer elegant wines will also enjoy it immensely, particularly over a meal of grilled miso vegetables on the terrace of your Umbrian palazzo on a coolish May evening.

Find out more: dallavallevineyards.com

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bedroom terrace
palatial hotel on edge of mountain

The Splendido with its legendary pool and restaurants, above Portofino. Image courtesy of Belmond/Mattia Aquila

In the third part of our luxury travel views column from the Autumn 2021 issue, LUX’s Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai experiences la dolce vita in Portofino

My one encounter with the Splendido Mare, the village-based sister hotel of the celebrated hillside Splendido in Portofino, was a little over 10 years ago. Since then, the port area of the village has been pedestrianised, and the Mare has been upgraded with its own character (to reflect a kind of village-chic identity, escaping from the shadow of its showy sibling). What a difference! Artful touches, gentle lighting and townhouse style abound, and getting to our “village view” room along a labyrinth of corridors was a delight, with a feeling of staying in a real house. “Village view” could mean a wall, but actually it was out along the Via Mare, the cute main street, which, now pedestrianised, was a blush of colourful visitors eating ice-creams and pizza at the outdoor restaurants. Perfect insulation meant it was quiet, also.

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We arrived late one evening, met at the other end of the Via Roma (all of 100 metres away – Portofino is tiny) by the hotel porter who took our luggage while another parked our car. On the stroll into the hotel we noticed the restaurant at the front of the building, on the main piazza on the harbourfront, was buzzing; twenty minutes later we were installed at a table on its front row, with a perfect vista of the evening passeggiata as the light dimmed over the hillsides on either side of the harbour.

bedroom terrace

The terrace of one the bedrooms at Splendido Mare

The Mare has a family-run vibe, despite being part of an international hotel group; the fritto misto of fish and shellfish with fruit and vegetables was a spectacle in the serving, and worked extremely well with a bottle of Lagrein red from northeast Italy, although a more conventional choice from the wonderful wine list would have been a Frascati or even a chardonnay-based Franciacorta. Next time.

Read more: Nayla Al Khaja on filmmaking and female empowerment

The beauty of the Mare is you can step right out onto the harbourfront (now with zero traffic and no noisy Vespas – a true transformation) and, in our case, onto the hotel’s boat for a whizz around the coastline: to the lighthouse point at the tip of the peninsula and back along the coast to the resort town of Santa Margherita Ligure, playing a game of spot the mansion (Dolce & Gabbana; Versace; Berlusconi; Agnelli) and spot the yacht (pass – seems like stalking).

italian harbour

The harbourfront at Portofino, home to the Splendido Mare. Photograph by Darius Sanai

And then it’s a short shuttle ride or walk up through the gardens to the original Splendido. This grande dame is perched high above the village, and there’s no better introduction than a long pizza lunch (those pizzas! That tomato sauce!) accompanied by a longer bottle of Ca’ del Bosco rosé Franciacorta (Italy’s splendid alternative to pink champagne); the pizzeria is metres from the pool, where you can revive yourself afterwards.

The Splendido’s curved pool is a historic place to gaze out over the bay and dream; we had an even better alternative in the form of our balcony, which had the same view and no other people. Aperitif, quick change, down to the bar above the pool for a little jazz piano and the same view, seen from within the gardens; and then dinner. Definitely the place for the ravioli with Ligurian herbs, lobster and bisque.

Book your stay: belmond.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 2021 issue.

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luxurious hotel suite with arched ceiling

luxurious hotel suite with arched ceiling

Suite “Antonia” features the building’s original high-vaulted stone ceilings

Occupying a restored masseria – farmhouse – on a quiet street in the historic town of Lecce, Puglia, La Fiermontina is a five-star hotel with a homely, boutique feel. LUX discovers its quiet charm

Arrival

Like many beautiful Italian cities, Lecce has an unprepossessing ring of suburbs. But drive through an archway and a magical vision appears like an ancient Roman city, even more mesmerising at night, still and lit by gentle oranges and yellows on the ochre walls.

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Past the arch and La Fiermontina is down a quiet street. Walk up a stone staircase lit by uplighters into a walled courtyard, turn into the reception area, and then exit again to wander in a garden enclosed by the hotel’s ancient buildings and the old city walls. The light from the sky and the garden lighting is otherworldly.

The Room

Our suite was reached via a short staircase (there is a lift also, but it seemed a bit inauthentic) and seemed to span two buildings, old and new. The huge terrace balcony looked out over the courtyard, from where gentle jazz wafted up each evening. The bedroom had a vaulted ceiling and light stone walls, with contemporary furniture, art books and little clutter. If there is a more compelling bedroom in the whole of Italy, we would love to see it.

The Experience

We arrived on a weekday evening, slightly frazzled after flying in, renting a car and navigating the racetrack/autostrada for the hour’s drive. (Taking a taxi, easily arranged by the hotel, might be a better option next time.)

Read more: The Best of Tuscany’s Wine Resorts

Walking down from the room in search of the bar and a bite, we came across an enchanting sight. The hotel holds occasional evenings for locals and guests to sample regional beers and wines, and local cuisine in a buffet style. Puglia has been acclaimed for its wines but what is less known is that it’s part of Italy’s microbrewery revolution as well. It was hard to choose between the local beer and a local chardonnay. For the cuisine, we chose from a giant pan of pasta with sausage and melted cheese, and some antipasti.

Choices made, sit at your table in the gardens, under the olive grove near the pool, next to the walls of the ancient city, listen to the jazz and you feel far from the airport transfer.

restaurant with outdoor tables

The hotel’s outdoor restaurant focuses on local, seasonal produce

Exploring

The hotel is in the heart of the most compelling city where you can wander through the latticework of ancient streets. You can get a guide or allow your instincts to guide you. Doing the latter, we stumbled upon a hidden square with a single restaurant and terrace where lunch turned into an after-lunch digestif and into an early evening aperitif.

Verdict

The most mesmerising way to stay in one of Italy’s most interesting cities, and with a homegrown, not a big chain feel. Exquisite.

Find out more: lafiermontina.com/hotel

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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champagne drinking
champagne drinking

Image courtesy of Moët & Chandon

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

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

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

champagne bottle with two glasses

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

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

Find out more: moet.com

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tuscan landscape

Dievole is surrounded by the endless green and gold hills of Tuscan legend. Photograph by Marco Badiani

The second half of our journey through Tuscany takes us to Dievole, a luxurious wine resort in the heart of the region’s famous rolling hills

Where

On a ridge surrounded by vineyards, olive groves and forests, in a wild part of Tuscany just 20 minutes’ drive from Siena.

The arrival

Dievole is surrounded by the endless green and gold hills of Tuscan legend. Arriving from Florence, you divert south towards Siena and turn northeast along a winding country lane, great houses appearing suddenly on hilltops, wild boars popping out of the vineyards. This is not a highly touristed part of Tuscany, you feel you are a visitor among locals, yet it is easy to get to Siena and the villages on the Chiantigiana trail. The last part of the journey takes you down a dust track to a tidy car park at the back of imposing stone buildings; there is also an old chapel opposite the pleasant reception office.

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italian villa

The Dievole winery and hotel. Photograph by Alexandra Korey

The views

This is deepest northern Tuscany, the land of Chianti and olives. The hotel’s main pool has an infinity edge overlooking vineyards and a forest in the valley; forest and vineyard extend for miles up ridges and down dells. There is another pool of equal size on the other side of the hotel. Above the pools and below the main buildings are grassy gardens where you can sit and have lunch or a drink on a wonderfully casual scattering of garden furniture. The formal terrace, for breakfast and dinner, sits behind one of the gardens and has a symphony of cicadas at night time.

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

The rooms

Modern Tuscan chic without trying too hard: high ceilings, plenty of marble and space. Some rooms have the same views as the pool, others look more inwards, but all are generous, genuine, authentic and light.

entrance to villa

views of vineyards and hills

The entrance to the villa (top) with views across the estate’s vineyards vineyards and the northern Tuscan landscape. Photographs by Alexandra Korey

Wining and dining

Breakfast is the standard Italian luxury fare of a buffet biased towards fruits and cheeses. Lunch was our favourite meal here, just sitting at a table on the lawn above the low wall, beyond which the ground dropped down into the valley below. The nearest other guest was 20 metres away; indeed, Dievole is a magnificent place for not feeling on top of anyone. For lunch, our favourite pick was a grilled turkey breast with a salad of local tomatoes, whose punchy flavours went with the flavours of the air.

Within a 20km radius of Dievole are some of the top wineries of the region and the hotel’s relaxed, professional staff seemed happy for us to sample their wares during lunch. Dievole’s own wines are served at the restaurant during dinner. Not as famous or profound as other local wines, theirs were well priced and a good accompaniment to the food.

The highlight

The views changing colour and texture daily; and the staff, who made things run beautifully without ever falling into the old Italian trap of getting in the way too much. Tuscany for true connoisseurs.

LUX rating: 9/10

Book your stay: dievole.it

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue.

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hilltop hotel in vineyards
hilltop hotel in vineyards

The Castello Banfi wine resort. Photograph by I. Franchini.

Staying at two wine estates at opposite ends of the region, LUX experiences fine wines, history, cuisine and the spiritual tranquillity that only Tuscany can offer. First up is Castello Banfi Il Borgo, a wine estate and historic hilltop hamlet transformed into a luxury hotel

Where

On a hilltop in the far south of Tuscany, above a broad sweep of valley and plains, with the massive, looming forested ancient Etruscan volcano of Monte Amiata in the far distance.

The arrival

You know you’re in wine country when you drive to Castello Banfi. The land for miles in every direction is covered with vineyards; a smooth, quiet road leads to the estate from the main road connecting Montalcino, on its hilltop to the north, with Sant’Angelo Scalo in the flat valley below. Banfi is not just a wine estate, it is a hamlet, all converted into a luxury hotel (il Borgo), wine estate and celebrated restaurant. There is even a museum of glass bottles. The feeling is that you have arrived at a very exclusive destination, but a working one, with the vines all around making some of the most famous wines of Tuscany. The ‘hotel’ is the cluster of buildings down the single cobbled road of the hamlet, which have been artfully and expensively restored.

historic fortress

rose garden

The restored hilltop fortress (above) with its rose garden

The views

The place to be here is the pool, which looks out to the south, over vineyards, agricultural land, and plains, over to forested hills in the far distance, many miles away, beyond which are the beaches of the Maremma. At night, you can sit on the grass by the pool and try and guess how far away each point of light in the blackness of the land is: 10km? 20km? In contrast to northern Tuscany, the views here are vast, unending, almost unsettling in their scale. Or is the best view from the bedrooms, which look out over a terrace and to the Monte Amiata volcano in the distance to the east? You are spoiled for choice with different vistas here.

swimming pool and vineyards

The swimming pool with views over the vineyards. Photograph by Darius Sanai

The rooms

The old hamlet’s rooms have been cleverly repurposed into a luxury setting, with beautifully treated woods, marble and fabrics. They are less about light and more about texture, although throwing a window open always reveals a dramatic sight of vineyard and horizon.

Read more: Why Maslina Resort, Hvar makes the perfect summer destination

luxurious hotel suite

One of the suites at the Hotel Il Borgo

Wining and dining

Banfi is known to connoisseurs around the world as one of the most significant producers of Tuscan wines. We were given the rare pleasure of a tasting personally overseen by the estate’s director Enrico Viglierchio. The Poggio alle Mura, one of the prestige cuvées of Banfi, is made from a blend of some of the best vineyard sites in the area, many of which you drive through as you approach the estate. Deep, powerful and rich, it’s a Brunello di Montalcino for those who love their wines to resonate. Meanwhile the range-topping Poggio all’Oro is elegant, almost delicate, its older vintages having a complexity of earthy layers, a connoisseur’s wine. You can choose from those and many more at the Sala dei Grappoli fine dining restaurant, in a medieval courtyard, which serves elaborate, intricate, complex cuisine like total black crisp egg, pallone di gravina cheese foam, avocado and Cinta Senese pork dust (and that’s just a starter). There’s also La Taverna for more relaxed, hearty Tuscan dining indoors.

taverna style restaurant

The Taverna restaurant

The highlight

Apart from the wines, it’s the architecture of this intimate private village, and the way you and the other guests (never many of them) feel that you have a whole, perfectly tended, luxury hilltop community and all its astonishing sightlines to yourselves.

LUX rating: 9/10

Book your stay: castellobanfiwineresort.it

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2021 issue.

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vineyards

Harlan Estate’s vineyards in Napa Valley, California

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

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

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

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

man looking out over vineyards

Will Harlan, second-generation managing director of Harlan Estate

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

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

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

Read more: Product designer Tord Boontje on sustainable materials

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

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

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

wine tank room

The Harlan Estate tankroom

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

Read more: Is Germany the next global art hub?

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

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

family on a lawn

The Harlan family on the lawn of the estate

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

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

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

Read more: The gastronomic delights of Suvretta House, Switzerland

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

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

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

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

wine bottle

Harlan Estate 2006

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

Harlan Estate 1994

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

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

Harlan Estate 2006

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

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

Harlan Estate 2012

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

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

Harlan Estate 2016

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

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

Find out more: harlanestate.com

 

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Reading time: 11 min
selection of potatoes
potato farm with mist over the hills

Lucy and Anthony Carroll’s farm in Northumberland

Artisanal growers may be small scale but their care for the land and their produce is making a big impact on how we eat and drink. Torri Mundell meets two nominees for the luxury home appliance manufacturer’s Respected by Gaggenau initiative which celebrates this new generation of producers
couple on their farm

Lucy & Anthony Carroll

At Tiptoe Farm in Northumberland, Anthony Carroll is telling LUX about the “awkward” pink fir apple potato. “They grow vertically and have stems that can reach two metres tall. They’re so knobbly, they can’t be dug up with a modern potato harvester,” he says. They are, in short, more demanding than your average supermarket potato. “But,” he points out, “they have so much more to give.”

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Carroll and his wife Lucy used to farm more conventional potato varieties until in 2000 Carroll had, in his words, a “light-bulb moment”. A supermarket retailer had approached him to produce a potato variety that would “look great in a plastic bag”, but that tasted, by the retailer’s own admission, “filthy”. Carroll not only refused the offer, but he also resolved to start growing some of the more flavourful potatoes that, after the two world wars, had been abandoned for inexpensive, high-yield varieties.

Today, the farm’s portfolio of heritage potatoes, including the Victorian-era spuds they brought back from near extinction, occupies most of the 28.5-hectare farm. Lucy Carroll describes how these varieties have restored some nuance to the potato’s range of flavours: “Some are very full-bodied, some are very light and fluffy, some retain that green, new potato flavour through the whole year.” The farm supplies Michelin-starred restaurants which often list the variety of the potato on their menu. “Just seeing the name Mr Little’s Yetholm Gypsy can bring a bit of history alive on your plate,” she says.

selection of potatoes

A range of heritage potatoes produced by Lucy and Anthony Carroll

Working outdoors with lower-yield, less disease-resistant species in a landscape often battered by unpredictable weather is challenging, but the farm has maintained its LEAF (Linking Environment and Farming) Marque certification for integrating environmentally sound practices such as monitoring water consumption and planting bird and insect-friendly crops, grasses and flowers.

At the end of 2020, the farm was put onto the Respected by Gaggenau shortlist, an initiative developed by the German luxury home appliance manufacturer to promote small producers or craftspeople in the culinary world who “harbour a passion for exceptional craftsmanship or the preservation of rare and unique species”. Not only does the initiative celebrate traditional skills and techniques, but it also addresses our current preoccupation with provenance and supporting small businesses. The UK’s Crafts Council reported that in 2019, 73 per cent of UK adults purchased something handmade.

The longlist of 60 Respected nominees was assembled by a panel of 25 high-profile curators, including chefs, viniculture experts, design editors and food critics. The 2021 accolade will bring global recognition and support to the finalists, who have all weathered a difficult year.

vineyard

The Albury Vineyard in Surrey at harvest time. Photograph by Jonathan Blackham

Also on the shortlist is Nick Wenman, who founded in the Surrey Hills in 2009. Having a vineyard on the southern slopes of the North Downs “wasn’t the huge gamble that you’d expect,” he says, pointing out that the cool English climate lends itself to creating grapes with high acidity and low sugar content, a prerequisite for good quality sparkling wine.

Read more: Speaking with America’s new art icon Rashid Johnson

His work is not just about international awards and appearances on royal barges or on the wine list at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons – though Albury Vineyard has clocked up all three. Wenman and his team, including his Italian manager and his daughter Lucy, are often up at 5am to tend to the vines. Almost every April, a spring frost requires them to work through the night, lighting thousands of wax ‘bougies’ to warm up the vineyard by a couple of degrees.

bottle of white wine and two glasses

The Albury Estate blanc de blancs is made from chardonnay and seyval blanc grapes. Photograph by Simon Weller

The team not only contends with the variable UK weather but with the “extra layer of planning and stress” that comes with operating an organic and biodynamic vineyard, a tightrope act that wine expert and Respected by Gaggenau curator Sarah Abbott MW describes as “heroic”. “You can’t use any systemic chemicals to knock out the diseases that vines suffer in wet and damp conditions,” she says. Nor can you deploy non-organic ‘sugar movers’, sprays which would hasten the ripening of the fruit when faced with a run of bad weather.

Wenman estimates that organic vintners have to devote 40 per cent more time to their harvest, but he is motivated by a “passion for the environment and a belief that [organic and biodynamic principles] create better quality wine”. While the vineyard’s biodynamic status brings constraints, he notes that it inspires innovation, too. One of his favourite wines, the Albury Estate Biodynamic Wild Ferment 2015, is the first of its kind, “produced using only a chardonnay and a wild ferment grown from the yeasts that occur naturally in the vineyard”. His appreciation for small-scale artisanship among his fellow English winemakers echoes the spirit of the Respected by Gaggenau campaign. “In the UK, there are no bulk wine producers churning out the same old stuff,” he says. “And because they’re smaller, they might give the vines an extra bit of care, so you end up with a better product at the end of the day.”

man working on vineyard

Albury’s owner Nick Wenman burying manure-filled cow horns in the vineyard in winter for fertilising the soil in the spring

Underlying our appreciation of craft and artisanship is a desire to connect with its creator. Three curators for the Respected by Gaggenau accolade tell us why authenticity in food, wine and design matters

portrait of a chef in apronChef and culinary curator
SANTIAGO LASTRA

There is always a story behind every dish and as the chef, you are responsible for telling that story. Before I opened my restaurant, I spent a year travelling around the UK to find the producers I wanted to work with, getting to know the farmers, the fishermen, even the potters who make the plates. I can see the connection they have to the land, the struggle with the weather, and the care that goes into their ingredients. They are part of a fascinating ecosystem of people that believe in a sustainable future, and I have learned that quality is not about rarity or luxury – it means only that something has been made with respect.

man in front of book shelfEditor-in-Chief, LUX Magazine and collectibles consultant
DARIUS SANAI

This campaign is centred on a theme that is in the air at the moment: identifying authentic creators and originators, goods and services. This is important in the broader luxury and collectibles industry in which we operate, where you have on the one hand dominance by a number of big commercial players who are brilliant at marketing and branding, and on the other you have the emergence of a new class of producer that has made its name by creating, rather than marketing. The challenge for the curators of the initiative – as well as for informed consumers and retailers – is to get beyond the PR to find genuinely great producers creating or curating really original products of high quality but that were made in a very personal way.

chef in the kitchenChef and culinary curator
CYRUS TODIWALA OBE

At my restaurants, we have always concentrated intently on how we source and use ingredients in our day-to-day cooking, and we championed artisanal producers long before they became fashionable, so working on this initiative with Gaggenau feels like a perfect fit. The appreciation of artisans, producers, the environment – and everything we do to make our lives meaningful – slides tidily into this simple word: respect. The best producers begin with a belief in themselves and what they have set out to do. Their produce is unique – there are no boring similarities from one to another. And easy money isn’t on their radar; they are driven by the joy they find in delivering ethically produced, beautiful quality food.

Find out more: gaggenau.com/gb

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue.

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Reading time: 7 min
mother and daughter in vineyard
mother and daughter in vineyard

Amélie Buecher, winemaker at Vignoble des 2 Lunes

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

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

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

wine tasting test tubes

VIVANT’s ‘Women in Wine’ tasting kit

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

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

Read more: Olivier Krug on champagne and music

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

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

women winemaker

Coralie Delecheneau, winemaker at Domaine La Grange Tiphaine

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

Find out more: vivant.eco

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Reading time: 2 min
winery at sunset
winery at sunset

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

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

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

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

label artwork

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

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

Read more: Fashion entrepreneur Wendy Yu on creativity and charity

wine label

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

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

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

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Reading time: 1 min
hands holding grapes

The Respected by Gaggenau initiative recognises excellence in the categories of food, wine and design

German luxury appliance maker Gaggenau begins its search for three extraordinary makers and producers for their Respected by Gaggenau 2021 campaign. LUX reports

The inaugural Respected by Gaggenau prize aims to bring global attention to three exceptional regional producers in the categories of food, viniculture and design. A team of global experts have put together a long-list of 80 nominees from across Europe, which will be whittled down to 15 by Dr. Peter Goetz, Gaggenau’s Head of Design Sven Baacke, viniculture expert Sarah Abbott MW and culinary critic Tom Parker Bowles before the announcement of the final recipients in January 2021.

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The winning producers will receive a promotional package to support their business and showcase their craft, including videography and photography created by Gaggenau. They will also become an official Gaggenau global brand partner for 2021 giving them access to the brand’s high-net-worth customer base.

The Respected by Gaggenau 2021 long-list nominees from the United Kingdom were selected by LUX’s own editor-in-chief Darius Sanai, Kol restaurant chef Santiago Lastra and celebrated chef Cyrus Todiwala. Nominees include:

Culinary

Caroll’s Heritage Potatoes @carollsheritagepotatoes
Elchies Estates @elchies_animals
Keltic Seafare @kelticseafare
Langley Chase Organic Farm – Jane Kallaway @langleychasefarm
Rhug Estate Organic Farm – Lord Newborough @rhugestate

Design

Billy Tannery – Jack Millington @billytannery
Cara Guthrie Ceramics @caraguthrieceramics
Retrouvius – Adam Hills & Maria Speake @retrouvius

Viniculture

Albury Organic Vineyard @alburyvineyard
Coates and Seely @coatesandseely

Watch the campaign video below:

For more information visit: gaggenau.com

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Reading time: 1 min