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Château Pedesclaux, a classified growth in Pauillac, has undergone a dramatic transformation since Jacky and Francoise Lorenzetti bought the vineyard in 2009.
Although Francoise is from the region, Jacky developed a taste for the wines of the Medoc when he studied at the Ecole Hôtelière in Lausanne. After making his fortune in property he invested in wine, first at Chateau Lilian Ladouys in Saint Estèphe in 2008, then at Château Pédesclaux a year later. The Lorenzettis have brought their design and management skills to the quality of the wine but also to adapting the property to welcome guests in this unique space.
The transformation has been in the vineyard but also in the architecture of the chateau. They have enclosed the 18th century chateau in a glass framework; an original way of expanding the chateau to include a bright tasting room with the old pigeon tower on one side and a view over the estuary on the other.
Glass is the perfect medium for a showcase and the cellar is also a modern glass construction completed in 2014. This high-tech cellar is not only built to impress but also designed around the latest techniques in quality wine production.
In the 300 years of its history, Château de Ferrand has belonged to just two families; that of Elie de Bétoulaud, who passed the estate down to his heirs, and that of Baron Bich, founder of the famous Bic company. This visionary industrialist bought the property in 1978 and, today his daughter; Pauline Bich Chandon-Moët manages the estate alongside her husband.
Although her husband comes from a Champagne family, nothing predisposed Pauline to become a wine maker. After the death of her father, she understood that this beautiful property, a long way from their home in Piedmont, had enormous untapped potential. With her international experience in the BIC group aligned with her respect for history and tradition she restructured the vineyard, changed agricultural practices to respect the protected environment of the property and updated the winemaking facilities.
In the 2012 classification, Château de Ferrand became a Grand Cru Classé de Saint-Emilion. Some people would be happy to sit on their laurels, but not Pauline Chandon-Moët. Since 2017, with the new director, Gonzague de Lambert, they have continued to add value to this unique site making it accessible to visitors who are equally thrilled by the history and the natural environment as they are by the wine.
Visiting Château de Ferrand you now enter into the heart of a work of art. Skilled craftsmen have worked in stone, wood, leather and metal to create some surprising features. The two tasting rooms, for example, are both extraordinary.
The walls of the smaller 'Salon Bic’ are a nod towards the owners, the family of the Baron Bich, who bought the property in 1978. The walls are covered, from floor to ceiling, with a fresco by Alexandre Doucin, drawn uniquely in Bic biro. It brings the beautiful park surrounding the chateau into the tasting room. It is simply breath taking; when the door is closed you are sitting inside a virtual landscape, reproducing the 360° views from this high point of the appellation.
The reception room is also unique, organised as a relaxing lounge, the unique ceiling also brings the outside in. Long aluminium blades painted a pale blue cross each other, creating an undulating surface that reflects the daylight; it is like sitting in a beautiful cloud.
At the end of the salon the oak circular tasting 'bar' is a nod to the barrel cellar. It's far from rustic, with a little bit of James Bond technology it rotates on its axis to face inwards or outwards to suit number of guests joining the tasting. Unsurprising then that Chateau de Ferrand won the Best of Wine Tourism for Architecture
It's not only the French that are seduced by a new life in the Bordeaux vineyards. Silvio Denz is a dynamic Swiss businessman with a passion for luxury. Having transformed the family perfume business into the largest Swiss perfumery retailer in the eighties, his passion for collecting the original works of Rene Lalique led to him acquiring the Lalique Crystal company. Ever keen to share his passion, in 2011 he opened the Lalique museum in Alsace and converted René Lalique's villa there into a luxury hotel and restaurant.
At the same time his passion for wine grew, having creating a Swiss wine company, in 1998 he bought, with his fellow investors, the Clos d'Agon estate in Spain. In 2005, he bought Château Faugères in Saint Emilion. His investment in quality from vineyard to cellar won the Château a place as a coveted Grand Cru Classé in 2012.
His sense of style served him well, with the architect Mario Botta, he created a 'cathedral' winery designed to celebrate this new status. It has a very specific signature shape; a tall tower with a tasting room at the top offering spectacular views across the vineyard.
As a result, in 2013, this innovation lead to the award of a Best Of gold medal in “Architecture and Landscapes”. The monumental winery, sits on the slopes of the UNESCO Heritage site, and the tower inspired a unique bottle created with the Lalique Crystal House, a piece of art inside and out.
As an engineer and entrepreneur, innovation is in Yves Vatelot's DNA - he made his fortune with the 'Epilady' inventing the first electric epilator. Having sold his creation, Yves and his wife Stephanie purchased Chateau de Reignac in 1990. The innovation continued here too, on all fronts; agricultural, winemaking and especially in wine tourism,
Chateau de Reignac is at the heart of the Bordeaux appellation, the largest and perhaps most humble of the appellations of the region. Investing in such a region for an innovator offered a myriad of possibilities but also challenges, which the Vatelots rose to with gusto. It has paid off. The Grand Vin de Reignac regularly shines at blind tastings outclassing wines that are sometimes 10 times the price. He seems proud of his tag line 'Grand Cru Non Classé'.
After innovation in the cellar and in the vineyard de Reignac is now all about innovation in wine tourism having opened to visitors since 2012.
The tasting room is in the 16th century pigeon tower. It includes a circular tasting table built around a dramatic pulley system that lowers the bottles selected for blind tasting from an upstairs room.
At the heart of the property is the beautiful greenhouse, built by Gustave Eiffel, and the aroma garden where 200 plants, sharing the typical aromas of red and white wines, have been planted. The garden has been such a success that many guests stay here for lunch under the trees with a picnic basket prepared by the property accompanied by their wines, of course and it was this garden that clinched the 2016 Best of Wine Tourism prize for ‘Innovation et discovery'. Now they have done it again with another Gold award in 2018 and a World Best of award for their innovative experience.
Back in Saint Emilion, Chateau de Pressac is a spectacular renaissance property perched high on the escarpment over looking the Dordogne valley, one of the best views of the region. The history of the property dates back to the Middle Ages. In 1453 the surrender of the English after the Battle of Castillon, ending the Hundred Years War was signed here.
Jean-François Quenin purchased the property in 1997, seduced as much by the beauty of the property and the lifestyle it offered as the wine. The passion for wine took over. He ran the French home appliance retailer, Darty. for many years. His financial skills have played an important part in bringing this beautiful property back to its former glory. Looking over the vines running down the terraced slopes to the valley, it's easy to see why the Château received the Best of Wine in “architecture and landscaping” as well as becoming a much loved family home.
You can make money from wine or wine from money and in some cases, with a bit of experience and skill, you can do both. Welcome to Bordeaux.