BBeyond Magazine was privileged to be invited to some outstanding festivities to celebrate the opening of La Grace Dieu Des Prieurs.
The party rocked well into the night and Woody Harrelson entertained the dinner guests with a couple of songs, much to the merriment of the host and his ravishing wife.
Jean Nouvel, the world-renowned architect behind the Arab World Institute in Paris and the Louvre Abu Dhabi unveiled his latest French project in Saint-Emilion – the reconstructed Chateau la Grace Dieu des Prieurs.
Located in one of France’s most renowned wine-growing areas, the historic vineyard La Grace Dieu Des Prieurs underwent a major restoration under the close supervision of Jean Nouvel. The architect, who had spent his childhood in the local area, managed to create a unique project bridging French winemaking traditions, modern technology and Russian art, turning the chateau into a unique art complex.
“Each project has a cultural component, which becomes particularly evident in historical places,” said Jean Nouvel at the project’s presentation. “By adding elements of modernism, we create something new, while at the same time preserving cultural traditions. Architecture does not exist by itself, it is not created by an architect out of nothing; it is born from the architect’s relationship with the surrounding world. This project was created to highlight each stage of operation of the winery throughout its life, and with each element I attempted to pay tribute to winemaking, Russian art and French traditions.”
The grand opening of Chateau La Grace Dieu des Prieurs gathered eminent guests in Saint-Emilion, including the Russian ambassador to France Alexei Meshkov, the Mayor of Saint-Emilion Bernard Lauret, the Abbot of Saint-Emilion Abbey Emeric de Roziere, winemakers Louis and Francois Mitjavile, and Director of the Art Russe Foundation Rena Lavery. The event was attended by Art Russe Saint-Emilion Grand Cru partners and distributors, leading French and international wine critics, and numerous representatives of the Russian and foreign media. The highlight of the ceremony was a concert of the renowned pianist Nikolai Lugansky, who performed works by Achille-Claude Debussy and Sergei Rachmaninov.
Also in attendance were owners of other Saint Emilion wineries, including Chateau Aurage, Chateau Candale, Chateau Franc Grace Dieu, Chateau La Commanderie, Chateau La Grace Dieu les Menuts, Chateau Milens, Chateau Naulet, Chateau Pindefleurs, Chateau Tertre Roteboeuf, Chateau Quintus, Clos Dubreuil.
The Mayor of Saint-Emilion Bernard Lauret highlighted his appreciation of the transformation project: “This is Jean Nouvel’s second project in Saint-Emilion, and I very much hope to see other projects of the great architect in our region. From the very beginning the project was very interesting and ambitious. Together we solved all the challenges that arose along the way, and the admirable result makes us proud.”
“I wish to thank everyone for the work done,” said Russian Ambassador to France Alexei Meshkov. “This is a large-scale project that has created many links, namely between the French soil, Russian business and wine, which is now sold all over the world. Such projects are particularly significant now, when the relations between Russia and France are entering a new phase.”
Chateau La Grace Dieu Des Prieurs was founded in 1885 and today is surrounded by such wine estates as Laroze, Chateau Figeac, La Dominique and Cheval Blanc. Its wine has been bottled under the name La Grace Dieu Des Prieurs since 1958, and has always enjoyed an excellent reputation among the connoisseurs of Bordeaux. In recent decades, however, the chateau found itself in dire need of reconstruction and process modernization. In 2014-2017, the chateau underwent a large-scale transformation aimed at preserving French winemaking traditions, while introducing innovations to achieve the highest quality of wine. To improve the winemaking process, the renowned consulting oenologist Louis Mitjavile was invited. The modernization project was carried out under the supervision of the Chateau Director Laurent Prosperi.
Jean Nouvel developed the architectural redesign project, with the overarching objective to preserve and highlight the historicity of the place, while bringing modernity to the production process and the architectural ensemble. The new gravitational cellar now boasts not only the most advanced equipment, but is also a magnificent piece of modern design: the cylindrical building resembles a fermentation tank, whose wall is decorated with a fresco depicting the stages of the winemaking process. Jean Nouvel’s vision allowed transforming the chateau in Saint-Emilion into a genuine piece of art.
The new owners did not limit themselves to architectural and technological transformations. In 2017, Chateau la Grace Dieu des Prieurs and the Art Russe Foundation, which owns one of the largest collections of Russian and Soviet art of the late 19th and 20th centuries, signed an agreement under which the Art Russe brand and reproductions of paintings from its collection will be made available annually to the chateau, to be featured on the grand cru wine labels and selected to showcase a variety of trends in Russian art. Today, Art Russe Grand Cru labels display reproductions of works of Ilya Repin, Viktor Vasnetsov, Mikhail Vrubel, Valentin Serov, Nicholas Roerich, Nikolai Fechin, Alexander Gerasimov, Viktor Popkov, Geliy Korzhev and other Russian and Soviet artists.
“For us, the project bridging the art of winemaking and the art of painting represents an opportunity to expand the audience for the programs of the Art Russe Foundation and raise awareness of Russian art in a new format. Thanks to the project, many people in Russia and around the world have discovered great French wine, and, through wine, have discovered Russian art,” said Andrey Filatov, founder of the Art Russe Foundation and owner of Chateau la Grace Dieu des Prieurs.
About Château La Grâce Dieu des Prieurs
Pritzker Prize winner Jean Nouvel is one of the most recognized French architects. The geography of his projects’ geography spans Europe, Asia, and both North and South Americas. A graduate of the National School of Fine Arts in Paris, Jean Nouvel made his first breakthrough in architecture in collaboration with the architecture firm Architecture Studio, with the design of the Institute of the Arab World in Paris (1981-1987). Subsequent major projects included the Lyon Opera House, the Evralille Shopping Mall in Lille, the Galeries Lafayette Department Store in Berlin, the Lucerne Culture and Convention Centre, Gasometer A in Vienna and the Monolith, a floating exhibition hall on Lake Morat during Expo.02. Nouvel’s recent projects include the Torre Agbar in Barcelona, renovation of the Queen Sofia Museum in Madrid, the Guggenheim Museum in Tokyo and the Louvre branch in Abu Dhabi. Founded in 1994, Ateliers Jean Nouvel, which in 2006 with 140 employees was one of the largest architecture firms in France, currently has 40 domestic and international projects in its portfolio. Headquartered in Paris, the firm has branches in London, Copenhagen, Minneapolis, Rome, Madrid and Barcelona. Nouvel’s distinct style is characterised not only by cohesiveness of architectural solutions, but also by the architect’s ability to perfectly integrate each building into the surrounding landscape. “Every time I try to find what I call the missing link in a puzzle: the right building in the right place.”
ART RUSSE, which owns one of the largest collections of Russian art of the late 19th-20th centuries, was founded in 2012 by entrepreneur and philanthropist Andrey Filatov, with the aim of developing a greater understanding of Soviet and Russian cultural contributions. In particular, it focuses on collecting and increasing international awareness of Russian art dating mainly from 1917 – 1991. Its aim is to increase appreciation for this genre through exhibitions, loans to international museums and galleries, and publishing books and catalogues on key artists and artefacts. For his contribution to international cooperation in the field of culture and efforts to preserve historical heritage, Art Russe founder Andrey Filatov was awarded the UNESCO Medal and the title of Chevalier of the Order of the Legion of Honour (France).
Andrey Filatov is a Russian entrepreneur, philanthropist, founder of the Art Russe Foundation, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Tuloma Investment Company and shareholder of the Globaltrans Group. In 2013, he was elected President of the Russian Chess Federation (RCF), in 2014 – Vice President of the International Chess Federation (FIDE). Since January 2016, Andrey Filatov is senior coach of the Russian men’s national chess team. He is a member of the Economic Council of French and Russian enterprises of the Franco-Russian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIFR). Andrey Filatov is Chevalier of the Order of the Legion of Honour of the French Republic, is actively engaged in charity, supports literary and artistic associations, and sponsors numerous educational programs. He financed the restoration of the tombstone in Paris to the famous chess player and the first world chess champion of Russian origin Alexander Alekhine.
Laurent Prosperi, Chateau Director: Trained in hospitality, catering and culinary arts, Laurent Prosperi has always had a passion for the vine and wine. With a wealth of experience in the field of luxury tourism and real estate consulting within the MCI Agency (property management consulting), he took the direction of the La Grâce Dieu des Prieurs estate, thus returning to his roots. As the project leader, he steered all the stages of its implementation, from project management to the choice of experts. His management expertise gives him a strong strategic vision for the estate, in line with the ambitious goals set for its remarkable wine.
Louis Mitjavile, Oenologist: Expert in the field of viticulture and winemaking, a descendant of an ancient wine family from Bordeaux, Louis Mitjavile is the chateau’s consulting oenologist. He was exposed to ancient winemaking traditions from an early age. Louis Mitjavile is without a doubt a leading Merlot specialist with a brilliant track record, although his expertise is not limited to the Merlot variety alone. Over the course of his remarkable career, he has contributed to the development of some of the region’s renowned grand cru wines. His approach is based on harvesting slightly over-mature grapes, slow, soft extractions and long, slightly oxidative aging in new barrels.