By Paige Donner
« Vente aux Enchères du Fouquet’s 2010 » The Landes Forest of Gascony in southwestern France is the largest maritime-pine forest in France. It is located in the well-loved wine region of Bordeaux. The area was formerly known as “the moors of Bordeaux” and its roughly 10,000 sq. km covers the French departments (counties) of Landes and Gironde.
All of this is very important because earlier this week, the Eco Luxury hotel,Hôtel Fouquet’s Barrière which regally stands on Avenue George V and the Champs-Elysées, partnered with Bordelaise winemaker Marie-Laure Lurton to auction off the equivalent of 1500 bottles of the new October 2010 harvest to patrons of both wine and the environment.
Rarely does doing right by an Eco-system get to feel this good. Mme. Lurton oversees the making of her wine at three châteaus in Bordeaux: Château La Tour de Bessan – Margaux; Château de Villegeorge – Haut-Médoc; and Château Duplessis – Moulis en Médoc. Last year, 2009, was the first year that she and Hôtel Fouquet’s teamed up on the reforestation project for Landes Forest and in support of biodiversity. Last year, the harvest was from hectares within the Villegeorge domain. This year, it was all Margaux.Marie-Laure Lurton Wines from Bordeaux
The auction was presided over by 1992’s World’s Best Sommelier, Philippe Faure-Brac, who owns the notable Bistrot du Sommelier in Paris as well as being an author and TV-Radio Host. His co-presenter was Pierre Cornette du Saint-Cyr. They both heartily greeted the host of Le Bal de Paris when he made his appearance about 1/3 of the way through the auction, just in time for a key bid.
According to Marie-Laure Lurton, the instigation to partner on this reforestation and funding of biodiversity research came, to a large extent, from the hotel’s Purchasing Director, Mssr. Christian Rossi (pictured in top photo, left). Now in its second year, the elegant evening, which saw 150 invited guests mingle with flutes of champagne and bid on batches, and even a few barrels, of Margaux wine in the property’s acclaimed Le Diane restaurant, was also hosted by NéoPlanète founder Yolaine de La Bigne.
The harvest is conducted by the Hotel’s own staff who man up for the Fall harvest in Bordeaux, and physically pick the grapes off the vines. They harvested 2 hectares for the wine tagged for auction this year, from a total of 29 hectares that is the Domain.
The goal this year was for the auction earnings of the 1500 bottles to top last year’s 50,000 Euros in sales that all went for reforestation and tree planting. Some of the total of 61 lots up for bid included Impériales of Cuvée Villegeorge, Jéroboams of the Margaux, Doubles Magnums and even a Nabuchodonosor, the equivalent of 20 bottles. Of exquisite value were the bottles of Pouilly Fumé 1995 that had been stored under the sea. The bottles still had vestiges of shells clinging to the glass. It is rumored that the cool dampness of the ocean helps to age and refine the wine as it reposes in the dusky slumber of watery depths.
In 2009 the Landes Forest was devastated by a major storm that damaged approximately 300,000 hectares (740,000 acres) of the region, 90% of which were located in the Landes Forest. Other companies and organizations who have actively dedicated efforts to the reforestation of the monoculture pine forest are the Walt Disney company and Earth Organization.
The official reasoning of Hôtel Fouquet’s Barrière:
The idea to join forces on a shared project took root in 2009: the Hôtel Fouquet’s Barrière Grape Harvest aims to produce a harvest which is then auctioned off to fund the reforestation of the Landes forest and biodiversity research.
So far their efforts have resulted in 40 hectares of replanting. In addition, the re-planting supports a solar farm project in the region, which is positioned to be Europe’s largest, spanning a total of 3 hectares.This re-forestation project aims at offsetting the areas that are being used for the installation of the solar panels. Hôtel Fouquet’s Barrière sees the project as three-pronged:
environmental, human and social.
Both of the partners practice demonstrated commitment to the environment in their businesses. The wineries owned by Marie-Laure Lurton are maintained in an eco-respectful way by herself and her vineyard manager, Emilie Roullé, who shares her commitment to Terra Vitis. Terra Vitis, www.terravitis.com, is a strict code of agricultural methods that pertain to the use of pesticides, chemicals and other additives. Its focus is on caring for the soil.
Similarly, though altogether in a different field, that of Luxury Eco Tourism and hospitality, the Hôtel Fouquet’s Barrière is the first Leading Green-certified hotel in Europe. This certification, the L.E.C.S., is administered by Sustainable Travel International and is for luxury tourist properties that incorporate sustainable development into their business practices. The Champs-Elysées hotel also offers guests the option of “Make a carbon neutral booking,” which allows guests to fully offset their carbon footprint accrued from their travels.
The legendary Fouquet’s restaurant that is just adjacent and connected to the hotel merits a whole separate spotlight. Let’s just say, if you are in Paris during the César Awards, you can’t miss it! And as for the Château La Tour de Bessan? Perfectly elegant, perfectly robust, on a wintry Parisian night on the Champs-Elysées.