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Bordeaux is home to several Château owned by luxury Brand Corporations: Chanel Inc. owns classified growths Château Rauzan Segla in Margaux and Château Canon in Saint Emilion, Kering owns Château Latour in Pauillac, and then there is LVMH with a slew of international wine and spirits brands in their portfolio. As well as their flagship Bordeaux wineries Château d’Yquem in Sauternes and Chateau Cheval Blanc in Saint Emilion, LVMH are heavily invested in Champagne and Cognac.
There are several advantages for a chateau owned by such groups. Apart from the obvious advantage of a parent company with deep pockets, it enables properties to make drastic selections and even not produce at all in tricky vintages ensuring a consistent quality (the last year d’Yquem didn’t produce any of the classified wine at all was as recently as 2012). It also allows for investment in cellars, both technical and aesthetic, and the advantages of belonging to a luxury goods portfolio with the marketing and promotional synergy that that entails.
There has been a less obvious cross marketing initiative within the LVMH stable. Dior and Château d’Yquem, both member of the LVMH luxury stable, have been working closely together on the beauty benefits of Sauternes.
Wine and beauty is nothing new; Caudalie, have been extracting polyphenols from grape pips since the early 90s and the brand is now an international success and the reference in ‘wine spas’ with their ‘Vinotherapie’.
Dior got into the act as early as 2006 creating the l’Or de Vie range using an extract from the sap of the vines of Château d’Yquem as an active ingredient. With the 2013 vintage, they have taken this a step further, adding a serum to the range. This time molecules extracted from the marc left after fermentation of the wine appear to hold magic properties for the skin and have been included alongside other active ingredients in the new l’Or de Vie ‘La Cure’.
This magic comes at a price; the serum is presented in elegant golden phials in packs of three for about £ 1200, although this ‘Cure’ is a nine-month supply. Long enough to see a visible difference according to their studies.
If the lovely cellar master Sandrine Gaby is anything to go by, being exposed to the magic ingredient must work, but I think I’ll stick to taking my Chateau d’Yquem elixir of youth by the glass.
Just to prove I’m not completely Bordeaux centric, I’m happy to recommend a couple of guides that, although they include Bordeaux, also reach further afield.
The first is the AWE (Association of Wine Educators) 100 AWEsome Wines. Selected by AWE members for their quality and value, the wines are all available in the UK market. The 90 odd members of the association teach trade and enthusiastic amateurs throughout the year which puts them in a unique position to taste and gauge the reaction of their students to a wide range of wines. This guide represents some of their favorites.
The guide is organised by price bracket and includes tasting notes and stockists for wines from 15 countries and around 35 different grape varieties. Yes, there are a few Bordeaux but interestingly not in the most expensive category. You can download the guide as a PDF here.
If you want to visit the wine regions for yourself download the 2015 Best of Wine Tourism guide. It features all the winners of the annual competition run by the Great Wine Capitals. This global network of eight cities at the centre of renowned wine regions was created in 1999 with the aim of encouraging travel, education and business between the wine regions of Bilbao & Rioja, Bordeaux, Cape Town & Cape Winelands, Mainz & Rheinhessen, Mendoza, Porto, San Francisco |& Napa Valley, Valparaìso and the Casablanca Valley.
The ‘Best Of Wine Tourism’ Awards is an annual contest for wineries in each member city and wine region, including categories from art and culture to accommodation and sustainable wine tourism. Over 465 properties have received an award since it’s inception.
It’s not just about patting each other on the back; wineries from the different regions learn from each other about the best ways to respond to a growing demand in the dynamic, diverse and competitive sector of wine tourism. For those of you who still labour under the misconception that Bordeaux has a closed door policy at its wineries and Chateaux, there are 19 Bordeaux winners in this years guide including places to stay, eat, drink (of course) and learn.