James Bond’s $13,000 Champagne Brings Bling to Vinexpo

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Photographer: Elin McCoy/Bloomberg

The $13,000 "Bollinger Experience" at the Vinexpo wine and spirits trade fair held at the Parc des Expositions in Bordeaux. The cabinet opens to reveal a 3-liter jeroboam of the 2000 vintage of Bollinger R.D. Champagne, favorite of James Bond.

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Photographer: Elin McCoy/Bloomberg

The $13,000 "Bollinger Experience" at the Vinexpo wine and spirits trade fair held at the Parc des Expositions in Bordeaux. The cabinet opens to reveal a 3-liter jeroboam of the 2000 vintage of Bollinger R.D. Champagne, favorite of James Bond. Close

The $13,000 "Bollinger Experience" at the Vinexpo wine and spirits trade fair held at the Parc des Expositions in... Read More

Photographer: Elin McCoy/Bloomberg

Lochlann Quinn beside a painting of a bottle of wine from his Bordeaux Chateau de Fieuzal in Leognan. Quinn, an Irish businessman, purchased the chateau in 2001 and hosted the Crus Classes de Graves dinner the night before then opening of Vinexpo. Close

Lochlann Quinn beside a painting of a bottle of wine from his Bordeaux Chateau de Fieuzal in Leognan. Quinn, an Irish... Read More

Photographer: Herve Lefebvre/Chateau de Fieuzal via Bloomberg

Lochlann Quinn, owner of Chateau de Fieuzal at the opening Crus Classes de Graves dinner in Leognan. Eric Perrin, left, is president of the Crus Classes de Graves, whose family owns Chateau Carbonnieux. In the center is Alain Juppe, mayor of the city of Bordeaux. Close

Lochlann Quinn, owner of Chateau de Fieuzal at the opening Crus Classes de Graves dinner in Leognan. Eric Perrin,... Read More

Photographer: Elin McCoy/Bloomberg

Maison Mont d'Azur's large format bottles of rose Cloud Chaser featured at the Vinexpo wine and spirits trade fair at the Parc des Expositions. The biggest bottle is a Nebuchadnezzar, which holds 15-liters. Close

Maison Mont d'Azur's large format bottles of rose Cloud Chaser featured at the Vinexpo wine and spirits trade fair at... Read More

Photographer: Elin McCoy/Bloomberg

A bottle of 2008 Yunnan Red French Wild wine from China at the company's Taste of the East stand at Vinexpo wine and trade fair in Bordeaux. The company, based in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province in southwest China, hopes to sell their wines in Europe and the U.S. Close

A bottle of 2008 Yunnan Red French Wild wine from China at the company's Taste of the East stand at Vinexpo wine and... Read More

Photographer: Elin McCoy/Bloomberg

Zhong Huaili, president of Chateau Loudenne, which was recently purchased by the Chinese company Kweichow Moutai Co. Ltd., at the Chateau in Saint-Yzans-de-Medoc. This is one of the several dozen chateaux in Bordeaux that have been sold to Chinese buyers in the past few years. Close

Zhong Huaili, president of Chateau Loudenne, which was recently purchased by the Chinese company Kweichow Moutai Co.... Read More

Photographer: Elin McCoy/Bloomberg

A bottle of 2012 Les Chemins de Bassac Isa rose at a biodynamic and organic wine tasting. Rose continues to be one of today's hottest wine categories. Close

A bottle of 2012 Les Chemins de Bassac Isa rose at a biodynamic and organic wine tasting. Rose continues to be one of... Read More

Photographer: Elin McCoy/Bloomberg

The Kweichow Moutai stand at Vinexpo wine and trade fair in Bordeaux. Kweichow Moutai's bai jiu is a spirit made from sorghum, water and wheat. Close

The Kweichow Moutai stand at Vinexpo wine and trade fair in Bordeaux. Kweichow Moutai's bai jiu is a spirit made from... Read More

Photographer: Isabelle Rozenbaum/Chateau Lagrange via Bloomberg

The cuisine of Michelin-starred chef Frederic Simonin was served during La Fete de la Fleur dinner in the barrel cellar at Chateau Lagrange. Close

The cuisine of Michelin-starred chef Frederic Simonin was served during La Fete de la Fleur dinner in the barrel... Read More

“One hundred thousand welcomes,” Lochlann Quinn said in Gaelic as several hundred wine VIPs slipped into candle-lit tents at his Chateau de Fieuzal in the Graves region of Bordeaux.

With old vintages served in polished crystal, mounds of foie gras, string quartets serenading guests at lavish dinners, and fireworks (red and white), Bordeaux’s Vinexpo wine and spirits trade fair is as much about late-night schmoozing as early-morning selling.

This Crus Classes de Graves dinner, hosted by Quinn, chairman of Ireland’s Electricity Supply Board who bought the chateau in 2001, was just the opening shot.

Nearly 50,000 buyers from 148 countries and 2,400 exhibitors descended on the five-day biennial event held two weeks ago.

They included the 16 top-ranked chateaux in Graves, which established its own permanent classification system 60 years ago. (Only Chateau Haut-Brion was named in the famous 1855 Medoc classification.)] Most Graves chateaux, like Fieuzal, make both red and white wine and many are undervalued relative to their quality.

“Not many people know much about the Graves appellation,” said Eric Perrin, the president of the group, which staged a tasting of the stellar 2010s before the dinner.

By day, I roam the three vast exhibition halls at the Parc des Expositions de Bordeaux Lac just north of the city to sniff out the latest wine and spirit trends.

Uruguayan Thirst

Bottles of pink wine seem ubiquitous, as the rose renaissance continues to boom worldwide. Who knew Uruguay was mad for the stuff? Pink wine now has a 9.2 percent share of the global market, according to the latest Vinexpo/IWSR study.

At a tasting of organic and biodynamic roses, my top picks are pale, elegant 2012 Domaine Vacheron Sancerre rose ($28) from the Loire Valley, tangy, fresh 2012 Les Chemins de Bassac Isa rose ($16) from the Pays d’Oc, and a new cherry-colored, spicy, 100 percent merlot 2011 Rubis de Meyre Clairet from Bordeaux.

Dozens of stands display roses in large format bottles. Savory, salty 2012 Maison Mont d’Azur Cloud Chaser Cotes de Provence ($25, 750ml) will debut a 15-liter size bottle, known as a nebuchadnezzar in July. “There is huge demand for really big bottles of rose at beach clubs in St. Tropez,” says brand ambassador Richard Prodos.

James Bond

The fair’s ultimate bling wine is a $13,000 “Bollinger Experience,” a black lacquer cabinet that hides a jeroboam (three-liter bottle) of Bollinger R.D. Champagne, a James Bond favorite. Press a button to pop the lid and the 2000 vintage is revealed in a shiny silver ice bucket.

There are only 50 of these over-the-top luxury “experiences” worldwide, but I’m assured they’ll be available in London, New York and Hong Kong.

The Chinese are out in force, both as sellers and buyers.

According to Vinexpo data, China is now the sixth largest wine-producing nation in the world, its production forecast to grow 40 percent between 2012 and 2016.

The large Yunnan Red Wine Company near Kunming, in southwest China, hopes to tempt European buyers with wines made from unusual local grapes.

The 2006 Crystal Dry (35 euros), made from the crystal grape, has perfumed aromas of mango and passion fruit and vaguely resembled a powerful sauvignon blanc. The 2008 Old Tree red (50-60 euros), from rose honey grape variety, has a rich fruit and tobacco taste.

Chinese Wines

My vote for the red most likely to appeal to Westerners is the stylish 2008 French Wild, from the eponymous grape. Its soft cassis and plum flavors have an earthy edge. Prices better come down, though.

Chinese visitors flocked to a party at Chateau Loudenne, north of Saint-Estephe, which was sold in April to Kweichow Moutai Co. Ltd. (600519), famous for making the Chinese liquor bai jiu. Distilled from sorghum, wheat and water, Moutai has a strange intense aroma and firewater finish and is an acquired taste. Of course, I didn’t try the 80-year-old Moutai that sells for $14,000.

Sipping Loudenne’s white wine, chateau president Zhong Huaili says 40 percent of his production will go to 100 shops it plans to open in China.

Saint-Julien

Vinexpo officially closed on June 21 with yet another party. La Fete de la Fleur, held this year at Chateau Lagrange in Saint-Julien, was the week’s hottest ticket with a 500-euro-a-seat price tag.

Lagrange, whose powerful, structured wines are as underrated as some in the Graves, was also celebrating its 30 years of ownership by Japan’s Suntory Beverage & Food Ltd. (2587), which spent about $56 million renovating and replanting since 1983.

That didn’t include the cost of the party.

More than 4,000 barrels of wine were moved to a neighboring chateau so 1,500 people, including actress Carol Bouquet and Ichiro Komatsu, the Japanese ambassador to France, could dine in the cellar on Michelin-starred chef Frederic Simonin’s fare.

The menu included a haiku with each course. What could pair better with Bordeaux than a poem by Basho?

(Elin McCoy writes on wine and spirits for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

Muse highlights include a Manuela Hoelterhoff interview and Greg Evans on TV.

To contact the writer of this story: Elin McCoy at elinmccoy@gmail.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Manuela Hoelterhoff in New York at mhoelterhoff@bloomberg.net.

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