Ambiance Château La Gaffelière 2012
The company Louis Vuitton founded revolutionized luggage and leather goods and redefined luxury. It’s no surprise that Louis’ great-great-grandson, Francois-Louis Vuitton inherited that innovative spirit and is shaking up the venerable Grand Cru wines of Bordeaux.
Working with some of the 60 classified chateaus from the Official 1855 Medoc Classification, winemaker Francois-Louis has created a first-ever partnership between the top Bordeaux producers and a private collector. His Collection Personnelle features ten private cuvées created by nine grand cru chateaux.
“Both the first and second chateau owners I talked with were very interested because this was a novel concept,” Francois-Louis said. “There has never been an association between a chateau and one person.”
I have never taken an enology class. Everything I have learned was through the friendships I’ve made in the vineyards.
Chateau La Gaffeliere Cellar
A LOVE AFFAIR WITH WINE
Throughout his adult life, Francois-Louis Vuitton was fascinated with wine. His family had a home in the toney Arachon area of Bordeaux, known as the Atlantic St. Tropez, but Francois-Louis, a budding winemaker, was more interested in grapes than mixing with globetrotters.
“I was always walking in the vineyards,” Francois-Louis said. “Wine is made in the vineyards before it’s made in the cellar. I watched how they pruned, harvested and maintained the land. I learned by talking to people working the vineyards.”
His ex-father-in-law also had several vineyard properties in Bordeaux and taught Francois-Louis more about wine and being a winemaker.
“I have never taken an enology class. Everything I have learned was through the friendships I’ve made in the vineyards,” he said.
Serge, Jacques and Patrick Bouey
One of those friendships was with Patrick Bouey of Maison Bouey, a negotiant and owner of six Bordeaux chateaux in the Medoc region. Bouey encouraged Francois-Louis Vuitton to pursue his passion and interest in wine and helped introduce him to other chateau owners in Bordeaux.
Francois-Louis’ focus has always been Bordeaux because of the huge diversity of terroir and what it can produce. His passion for the wines from this region is infectious, and it’s sharing his enthusiasm for the wines that led to the collection.
“At first as a winemaker consultant, I just wanted to share my wine knowledge and wine with friends,” he said. “But after I sold my last company, they encouraged me to make the wine my next venture.”
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Chateau Lafaurie Peyraguey 2010
A BUSINESSMAN AT HEART
When your family business is the ICONIC Louis Vuitton, the easy career route is simply to join the company, but Francois-Louis chose to forge his own path as a winemaker consultant.
“On purpose, I never wanted to formally be part of the family business,” he said. “My father and I decided it would be better if I got my experience elsewhere, which gave me a much stronger independence streak.”
Despite not joining Louis Vuitton, during much of his career, Francois-Louis Vuitton was involved in companies in the fashion and perfume industries, including Parfums Weil and the fashion label started by French model Ines de La Fressange.
“Many times throughout my career, the company asked me to join, but it was always while I was either buying or selling another business. The timing was never right,” he said.
While his focus now is wine, Francois-Louis also serves as a senior advisor and financier for an M&A firm. “I’ve purchased and sold five different businesses. I like doing the deals,” he said with a smile.
Francois-Louis-Vuitton can often be found out in the vineyards working alongside the workers to cultivate the grapes that will ultimately find their way into his Grand Cru wine.
Courtesy of Francois Louis-Vuitton
Francois Louis-Vuitton’s Collection Personnelle was just launched in the United States when COVID-19 hit. Currently, it’s only available through Sunset Corners in Miami, and The Golden Hog Market also in Miami. Sunset Corners sells on-line, and their offerings comprise eight individual bottles, as well as the limited-edition Black Box collection.
The collection is in Southern California, Vail and Aspen. His collection is also available globally in France, China and Japan and launches in Africa in January 2021.
The winemaker’s collection includes private cuvées from Chateau Dauzac, Chateau La Gaffeliere, Chateau Malartic-Lagraviere, Chateau Leoville-Poyferre, Chateau Beauregard, Chateau Faugeres, Chateau Lascombes and Chateau Lafaurie-Peyraguey.
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Limited Edition Black Box Collection
“These Châteaux are owned by my friends, as well as friends of the Bouey brothers. Bordeaux is a small world, and most people know one another. Friends generally work with friends,” Francois-Louis said.
While Maison Bouey and eight other chateaus does the bulk of the technical winemaking, Francois-Louis-Vuitton can often be found out in the vineyards working alongside the workers to cultivate the grapes that will ultimately find their way into his Grand Cru wine.
When asked about his favorite wine in his collection, he laughed, and I got the sense that I asked him to pick a favorite child
“I don’t have any favorite wine. When it’s time to open a bottle with friends, it depends on our mood and the food,” he said. “I’m not a wine professor. It’s not about the technical aspects of the wine. It’s about sharing the wine.”
Now thanks to his unique partnership with the top producers in Bordeaux, we can all share that bottle, too.