Deep into the weekend, we’re recapping our tour of five vineyards in France and the California. We’re also reexamining our love of wine with an aggressive Pinot Noir from New Zealand (our thanks to the team at Omega Singapore and Salt Grill and Sky Bar at ION, Singapore) and a gentle Merlot from California. At the same time, we will busy here with the upcoming wine auctions in September, notably at Sotheby’s and Christie’s.
This frenzy of interest in wine was all sparked with the opening of the Cité du Vin, a cultural center for all things wine-related, in Bordeaux (of course!), and the first anniversary of the Champagne region’s hillsides, houses and cellars gaining UNESCO World Heritage status. All told, we have looked at five impressive vineyards and chateaux, compiled by the AFP Relaxnews.
For your convenience, we’ve reassembled all five choices we published recently and summarized them below.
This long-standing wine business is proof that the French are not alone in having been producing wine for centuries. The vast property, which also has vines two hours away by car in the Santa Cruz Mountains, has been making wine since 1885. You might know it for its Monte Bello vintage and its acknowledged expertize with Zinfandel, an emblematic grape variety in California.
It seems vineyards in France have something of a reputation for hospitality and cultural tours of a sort. Château La Coste for example offers a tour of its art works and architectural structures (15 euros for an adult ticket), which includes pieces by Tadao Ando, Louise Bourgeois, Alexander Calder and Frank O. Gehry. You can even stay right on the grounds in the appropriately named Villa La Coste, a new luxury hotel. The wines are known for being completely organic since 2009, with even the old vines being worked organically.
You will of course be familiar with Bollinger, either for its association with James Bond or its British royal warrants. On site in Ay, France, Bollinger has an exquisite oenotheque (otherwise known as a wine library), which is well worth a visit and just opened this year. Be warned though: you can’t just go blustering in without calling ahead first, which is only polite.
Unlike some of the other names here, you may not be familiar with Château de Béru and that is exactly what the winery wants to change. Until August 31, visitors can enjoy a vertical tasting, among other things, with the estate’s owner herself, Athénaïs de Béru. The estate is in Burgundy, in the Chablis region and you should visit with an unprejudiced palate.
Like Bollinger, this is a name that requires little introduction outside the world of dedicated wine lovers. Established in 1584 when the Carmelite order took over running the estate, it actually dates further back along with the other Haut-Brion names. This grand old age is masked today by the winery’s reputation for 21st century touches. The Philippe Starck-designed building you’re looking at here is just one example: it is the wine cellar. There are plenty of other contemporary touches, with a strong design philosophy bringing an extra level of charm to the wines.