Château La Grâce Dieu des Prieurs: Saint-Émilion Grand Cru, Art Russe – a unique story of art, architecture and wine-making = a modern masterpiece.
When the renowned chess player, businessman and philanthropist, Andrey Filatov became the owner of Château La Grâce Dieu Des Prieurs, his entrepreneurial vision was to combine a love of fine wine with his admiration of Russian Art.
Located between the medieval villages of Saint-Émilion and Pomerol in Bordeaux, the Estate was founded in 1885 within this ancient wine making region. In December 1999, the Appellation was inscribed on the World Heritage List by UNESCO, as a “cultural landscape.”
Andrey Filatov acquired the 19th century ‘La Grâce Dieu des Prieurs’ in 2013, commissioning Jean Nouvel, the acclaimed French Architect (Le Louvre, Abu Dhabi; Cartier Foundation, Paris; New York’s 53W53 Tower, etc) to bring the estate into the 21st century.
The major refurbishment, between 2014 and 2017, had a simple objective – to respect the vineyard heritage whilst introducing modern, innovative production facilities. Jean Nouvel created an architectural complex that is at once functional and a work of art in itself.
The cylindrical exterior design represents a panorama of an allegorical fresco to illustrate the historic Château and vineyard Estate. Inside are stainless steel fermentation and blending tanks and a series of wine cellars provides storage for all vintages simultaneously on the underground level.
‘Château La Grâce Dieu des Prieurs’ (Preserved by the Grace of God’s Priors), is an 8.5 hectare Estate, cultivating two red grape varieties, 90% Merlot and 10% Cabernet Franc, with one hectare allocated to Chardonnay white grapes.
Successful wine making is a complex business, a blend of history, geography, viniculture, viticulture and economics. Saint-Émilion with its own microclimate can boast an exceptional terroir due to its fertile limestone, sand, clay and chalk soil producing the finest quality grape vines.
Grand Cru (French for ‘great growth’) is a regional wine classification that designates a vineyard known for its favourable reputation and is the highest classification of Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC) wines
At ‘Château La Grâce Dieu des Prieurs’, the Director of the Estate, Laurent Prosperi, works in collaboration with a team of experts including Louis Mitjavile, their Merlot specialist who is descended from a family of Bordeaux winemakers. His philosophy is centred around healthy vines, harvesting slightly over-mature grapes and slow ageing in 100% new, fine-grained, French oak barrels.
Andrey Filatov selected green glass bottles inspired by Russian Ancestral traditions with Amorim natural cork stoppers – the wide diameter shape of the bottles was in fact used 250 years ago in Saint-Émilion.
The Château has partnered with the Art Russe Foundation, the largest private collection of Russian Art of the 19th and 20th centuries, for the design of bespoke labels – a unique, cultural branding concept. The images of twelve paintings have been chosen to illustrate each Vintage, covering the genres of religious icons, mythology, portraits and scenes of daily life.
Three of the paintings specially selected for the inaugural 2014 Vintage Collection are:
With its colourful, Impressionist style, this is a superb Still Life of a vase brimming with delicate summer flowers.
This narrative painting represents an ancient legend about Sadko, a Novgorod merchant, who is forced to descend under the waves to pay his respects to the Sea Tsar.
The encounter between two monks and a bear in the bleak winter landscape has a surreal, mystical atmosphere.
And so having researched the artistic theme, time to taste the wine.
Saint-Émilion, Grand Cru Art Russe – 2014 Vintage
90% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc; harvested October 2014. Aged 21 months. Bottling date, May 2017. 33,000 bottles
Dark ruby red in colour; Ripe, perfumed berry fruit and floral aroma with notes of slightly smoky oak and vanilla.
While, at first apparently light on the palate, there is then an intensity of flavour – sweet, juicy plum, blackberry and apricot; the initial slightly dry texture mellows into a velvety smooth aftertaste.
Sipped slowly, there is also a subtle detection of soft warm spices, cinnamon and nutmeg with a hint of aromatic herbs.
Overall, a very well rounded, full bodied wine with a complex character; delicately refined yet richly expressive and a long lasting, lingering flavour. This is a gustatory wine tasting experience to be savoured at leisure.
Since this first Grand Cru 2014, the Art Russe Collection now presents 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2018 vintages.
Inspired by the culture and gastronomic traditions of France and the artistic heritage of Russia, the unique concept of the Grand Cru Art Russe wines has received global recognition. A wine sipping, art lover would surely be enticed to collect a full Vintage Collection of twelve beautifully designed bottles (or several vintages!), for a most distinctive Wine Bar gallery.
At the Château there is an undergroud gallery with the Grand Cru Collection of Art Russe paintings.
The Grand Cru Art Russe wines have been selected by many Michelin starred restaurants and luxury hotels of Paris, Courchevel and Cote d’Azur. At Seta, Mandarin Oriental Milan, this is the only Bordeaux wine on By the Glass list. The wines are also available at prestigious establishments in Monaco, London, Abu Dhabi, Singapore and Russia.
Cuvée Elena from Château La Grace Dieu des Prieurs
The inaugural vintage has been produced in a limited edition of 1,300 magnums, handcrafted and decorated with a floral motif, produced by French glassmaker Waltersperger.
“A refined, exquisite, gourmet white wine with intense aromatic notes and a rich structure on the palate”.
Laurent Prosperi, Director of the Domain
Tasting note for Cuvée Elena 2019:
‘An intriguing wine with aromas and flavours of caramel, baked apple, honeydew melon, apricot, toast and charred oak. The wine, while ripe in terms of fruit, doesn’t feature the buttery richness that can beset Chardonnay. A lingering, salty, smoky, fresh finish. Persistent, interesting and delicious, even in this youthful state.’
The individually, hand painted Magnum bottles for Cuvée Elena are not available for retail sale. The 2019 and all subsequent vintages of Cuvée Elena will be donated to selected Auctions with the proceeds going to charitable foundations to assist children. In the UK, 10 magnums are to be offered for sale through the new luxury website Lymited.com for £1,300 each, with proceeds going to the Great Ormond Street Hospital.
The Global Chardonnay Masters 2020
Held annually by the European drinks trade publication The Drinks Business, this is a prestigious competition. Chardonnay wines from more than 20 countries, including France, Italy, Spain, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa were judged in a blind tasting by Masters of Wine, Sommeliers and UK wine buyers.
Competing in the Premium Category, Cuvée Elena received the Gold medal for a Chardonnay Aged in Oak Barrels.
The Red Dot Award 2021
For more than 60 years as the largest global design competition, the Red Dot Award has recognised design trends and innovation. In March 2021, the jury selected the Cuvée Elena Magnum as the best in the Product Design category.
The packaging case for Cuvée Elena is made from transparent acrylic, protecting the magnum in transit, and highlights the unique bottle shape and colour of the wine. Stylish, practical and high-quality, the attractive box can be used as a table setting or a decorative Objet d’Art.
Over the years, Red Dot Award winners in various categories have included, among others, Apple and Ferrari.
Andrey Filatov is clearly a most innovative entrepreneur. This cultural collaboration across architecture, design, fine art and wine-making has preserved the heritage of the Château and created a modern masterpiece of gourmet taste and artistic vision.
Read all about the Château, Art Russe, Gallery, Wine Vintages and purchase options: