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French winemakers with art sense: Cheers, spider!


Anyone who loves wine appreciates art - or vice versa? For three French winemakers both seem to apply. They are expanding their châteaux into art museums and sculpture parks.

The question of whether the first was the love of wine or art, reminiscent of the hen-egg problem on the Château Chasse-Spleen in the southwest. "That's hard to say," explains Jean-Pierre Foubet. "Both are passions of me and my wife Céline." He looks at a water-spouting fish of the German artist Katincka Bock, who sits enthroned on a pedestal and says: "And we both unite here."

Sculptures can be found in many corners of the winery. Even the underground cellar, in which the red wine is stored for 12 to 18 months, was designed by an artist: The Swiss painter Félice Varini makes oversized geometric shapes dance over the barrels and thus plays with the viewer's perception.

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Wineries in France: Merlot to Wellington

Chasse-Spleen is located around 45 minutes from Bordeaux, between Margaux and Saint-Julien. Even the origin of the name reveals that here wine and art are closely linked: He should go back to the 1857 published poem "Spleen et Idéal" (about: Spleen and Ideal) by the French writer Charles Baudelaire, the painter Odilon Redon (1840 until 1916), once a neighbor of the winery.

Another version goes back to Lord Byron. The British poet is said to have said during his visit in 1821: "This wine drives away like no other the dark ideas." Ex-President Georges Pompidou seems to have shared this opinion, because the Chasse-Spleen wines were said to have been the preferred of the head of state, who directed the fortunes of France from 1969 to 1974.

The wines are made from 73 percent Cabernet Sauvignon, 20 percent Merlot and up to 7 percent from Petit Verdot, a late maturing red grape that gives the wine more longevity and strength. With approximately 105 hectares of terrain, the estate is one of the large domains of the Médoc region northwest of Bordeaux.

Sabine Glaubitz / dpa-tmn

Jean-Pierre Foubet, owner of Château Chasse-Spleen, in front of boot sculpture

Shortly after the entrance to the castle, two gardener's boots, about five meters high, protrude into the air. The sculpture is by the French artist Lilian Bourgeat. The plastic is here for very personal reasons, reveals Foubet: Before his wife Céline took over the winery from her parents, she also worked as a landscape architect. D

The born Bordelaise found access to contemporary art quite early. She grew up in Bordeaux near the CAPC Contemporary Art Museum. At the head of the Association of Friends of the Museum today is her husband.

About two years ago, the couple inaugurated an art center. The 300-square-meter building, renovated in the cell-like White Cube style, was opened with works by the German sound artist Rolf Julius, who died in 2011. Visitors can also spend the night in the guest rooms of the center.

There is a special relationship with Germany, explains Jean-Pierre Foubet the story of Chasse-Spleen - not only because the neighboring country is a market for its wine. In 1909, the German wine merchant Adolph Segnitz bought the estate, which was expropriated a few years later against the background of the First World War. However, one still has a very good contact with the family today.

Peyrassol: A park with more than 60 sculptures

The vineyards of the Commanderie de Peyrassol lie some 700 kilometers away, in Provence in the southeast of France. The approximately 950 hectare domain at the foot of the Massif des Maures mountain range extends between the municipalities of Luc and Flassans-sur-Issole.

Its origins go back to the 13th century: members of the Knights Templar had founded a hostel there for pilgrims on their way to the Holy Land. A document on parchment paper from the year 1256 already testifies to a "bon vin franc", a good, frank wine. Today, it is a prestigious wine growing region of the Côtes de Provence appellation where Merlot, Viognier, Muscat and Cinsault grow.

That art and wine complement each other well here is already recognizable on the narrow path that meanders through the vines to the estate. To the left of him are two monumental wine glasses, which pour into a red field of flowers. The stainless steel works are by the American land art and installation artist Dennis Oppenheim (1938-2011). Opposite, an abstract sculpture by Alain Clément towers sky high.

The sculptures moved in with the entrepreneur Philippe Austruy, who acquired the domain in 2001. Since 2003, Peyrassol is managed by his nephew Alban Cacaret, a doctor of pharmacy. What he is doing now is much more exciting than medication, says the 44-year-old. Today, under his supervision, among others, the "Clos Peyrassol" and "Château Peyrassol" produced.

The pressed grapes ferment on Peyrassol in huge stainless steel containers, which can be seen down through the glass floor of the terrace of the main building. From the annex you also have a view of the vines and the sculpture park, in the center of which sits "Clément", a twelve-meter-high brass sculpture by Jean-Jacques Tosello. It represents a Knights Templar - in reference to the centuries-old history of Peyrassol.

Sabine Glaubitz / dpa-tmn

Entrance area of ​​the Commanderie Peyrassol: Kaleidoscope roof by Daniel Buren

Today, the sculpture park consists of more than 60 works, including a work by Daniel Buren, which resembles a gazebo of bright colors and transforms the entrance of the property into a kaleidoscope. Exhibitions and a glimpse into the Austruy collection are offered at the approximately 800 square meter art center, which opened in 2016 and has a water basin as its roof.

Château La Coste: Five-star hotel and art by Ai Weiwei and Richard Serra

The wine and art of the Irish Patrick McKillen on the Château La Coste, which is very popular with tourists. The winery, known for its "Rosé d'une nuit", is located in the direction of Aix-en-Provence less than 130 kilometers from Peyrassol. Every year, 700,000 bottles are produced, of which 60 percent rosé, 30 percent red wines and 10 percent white wines.

Since acquiring the 250-hectare piece of land - about half of which is dedicated to winegrowing - La Coste has made headlines, most recently in 2016 due to the opening of a five-star hotel overlooking the Sculpture Park and Japan's star architect Tadao Ando designed art center, which was opened in 2011. Works by internationally renowned artists such as Ai Weiwei, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Lee Ufan and Richard Serra adorn the art course, which takes about an hour and a half on foot.

Sabine Glaubitz / dpa-tmn

Music pavilion by Frank O. Gehry

La Coste also owns a music pavilion, created by US star architect Frank O. Gehry. With the wine cellar, which resembles a hangar, France's master builder Jean Nouvel immortalized himself on La Coste and with an exhibition pavilion the renowned Italian Renzo Piano.

Source: spiegel

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