Tag Archives: france

Dom Pérignon

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We first began our journey to “Decode Dom Pérignon” in Barcelona, questioning the idea of champagne and trying to understand it beyond the simple pleasures of drinking. The second part of our discovery took us to the birthplace of champagne, a sacred abbey high atop a hill in Hautvillers where a monk named Dom Pérignon lived in from 1668 until his death in 1715. It was here Dom Pérignon gave birth to champagne as we know it. 

As we walked the grounds of the cloisters it was easier to understand the philosophy of today’s champagne makers of Dom Pérignon. They come here, to this tranquil place that is the spirit and soul of Dom, to reflect on the past and think about the future. It was one of those perfect days. Crisp, damp and cool in the morning opening like a pathway to a glorious sun filled afternoon. I stood on the grounds of the abbey where the first champagne was created and closed my eyes to the smell of old stone, chalk, and earth while the wind whipped the trees around me making a sparkling symphony of the leaves while the golden sunlight danced between the shadows. If a place could sparkle like a glass of champagne, this was the place and in the spirit of inspiration, like with Dom Pérignon, could leave your thoughts amongst the stars. 

Following the benedictine rule set by the Sun King Louis IX which transformed France into a country of luxury and craftsmanship, he cared for the vineyards in great detail and through years of contemplation and study transformed the wine making process in three important ways. First, in place of manually stomping grapes with your feet he used a large machine to separate the juice of the grapes from the skin. Second was the blend. He had the idea to blend a variety of grapes from the Champagne villages. Lastly, which lead to the revaluation of champagne, he started the aging process in bottles as opposed to wooden casks which were used in the 17th century. It was through this process he discovered the creation of bubbles in the 2nd fermentation. 

The production of Dom Pérignon is far beyond technical. Having now spent many lunches and dinners with the Chef de Cave Richard Geoffroy and Vincent Chaperon they speak of the wine making process in such a romantic and idyllic way it is a constant reminder that we are speaking about something which comes from the earth. It is organic, and most of all, it is a gift from nature

One of the most poingoint points by Geoffry shared over our tasting of 11 Dom Pérignon vintages was  in the way champagne lingers which leads to memory. Memory is a constant in my own work. I take photographs like memories, to see the way it felt, to remember the beautiful moments. Each time I am so fortunate to find myself with a glass of Dom Pérignon I take in the smell which brings back memories of celebration, successes, all those magical nights faded with laughter and distant sparkling lights. Of course, as a winemaker, memory to him refers to the harvest, the conditions of the year that make the DNA of the vintage. The memory of characteristics from vintage to vintage. For example, the 2002 being elegant, refined, creamy, perfectly balanced while the 2003 is robust, bright, exciting, crisp. The memory of tradition and the relationship to time to project themselves forward into the future. It’s amazing to me that you can find so much life lived in one sip of champagne. 

Welcome to the home of Dom Pérignon and the birthplace of champagne.    Visiting the Dom Pérignon, the birthplace of Champagne.     Visiting the Dom Pérignon, the birthplace of Champagne. Visiting the Dom Pérignon, the birthplace of Champagne. Visiting the Dom Pérignon, the birthplace of Champagne. (more…)

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Snapshots of a weekend in Paris

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It’s hard not to fall in love with Paris. Her architectural streets, her dancing light, her chalky tonality bathing  you in softness and drowned in French accents. It was a weekend away, short but everlasting in my memories, swept up in a hotel suite from a dream and made simple with long afternoon walks with nowhere in particular to go… just the way I love to see Paris.

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With Love From Paris

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On a weekend in Paris, we once had a room with a view…

Hope you have a wonderful weekend. 

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Le Bristol Hotel

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A child of the 90s I grew up with this fantasy of Paris I found in movies. The hotel suite that perfectly frames the Eiffel Tower in its windows, bouquets of flowers and white walled gardens where fluffy white cats come to lay in the sun before evenings in little chic black dresses and dinners where each course comes with a wine pairing. I found that glamorous Paris I so long ago dreamed about at Le Bristol Hotel.

I have been lucky enough to find myself in Paris quite often, and from time to time I can be caught in a daydream of what it would be like to live in this city that captures my soul. When I come to Paris I mostly just take my camera and walk. Walk for days. It never gets old to me, I never run out of things to photograph or be inspired by. Never, not even when I stayed in the most lovely apartment, have I desired to “stay in”… that is until I stayed at the Le Bristol. Already as I write this at Charles De Gaulle airport the memory of our suite feels more like lying half awake in a garden day dreaming all afternoon.

There is not a single detail of this hotel, which opened in 1925 in the heart of Paris’s fashion district, that isn’t wonderfully glamorous and idyllically French. From the dazzling array of chandeliers to the 18th century Toile de Jouy decor, it is unapologetically luxurious. It’s no wonder it attracts the stylish clientele to match from movie stars to entertainers and (to my pleasure) fashion photographers. It even had a place in Woody Allen’s movie Midnight in Paris.

During World War II the Hotel Le Bristol became the American Embassy and even harbored a Jewish architect who would later design the stunning glass and wrought-iron elevator I described as what it must feel like to travel inside a diamond

Of course they have a beautiful spa, wonderfully opulent bars and restaurants tucked here and there around the hotel corridors, but it was what we discovered on the 6th floor that really took our breath away. A pool designed in the likeness of a large sailboat as imagined by Professor Pinnau, who most notably designed the yachts for the Onassis family, wrapped in walls of windows with sweeping views of Paris and most beautifully, Sacre Coeur. While the pool was a popular spot in the afternoons, it was early in the morning alone with the sunrise I found it to be one of the most peaceful places in Paris.

But perhaps the most surprising feature of this incredible hotel are the two fluffy white cats that live amongst the marble and roses. There is nothing more charming than having afternoon tea in the hotel’s garden with company of a furry little friend at your feet.

90 years after her opening here she stands, a lovely as ever….

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