» John Ortega and Prince Robert Taste Chateau Haut Brion in Moscow
By Annet Kulyagina
Prince Robert of Luxembourg, of the French Bordeaux wine house, Chateau Haut-Brion, visited Moscow at the end of May and was guest of honour at Gala Dinners organised by the wine importer DP-Trade. Passport publisher John Ortega was honoured to be invited to the press dinner.
His Royal Highness Prince Robert of Luxembourg – Vice president and
Managing Director of Domaine Clarence Dillon, producer of Chateau Haut-Brion and
Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion
Prince Robert is Vice President and Managing Director of Domaine Clarence Dillon, producer of Chateau Haut-Brion, one of the most expensive and prestigious of French labels and the great-grandson of American banker Clarence Dillon (1882-1979), who purchased Chateau Haut-Brion in 1935.
Born in San Antonio, Texas, Clarence Dillon studied at Harvard. In 1908 he married, and the newlywed couple spent their honeymoon in France where, captivated, they stayed for two years. In 1916, he began work with the bank of William A. Read. He worked closely with Bernard Baruch, and then became director of the Read Bank, which became Dillon, Read in 1921.
Clarence Dillon was attracted to France both because his mother was of French origin and by his own personal tastes.
After months of negotiation with Andre Gibert, Clarence Dillon bought Chateau Haut-Brion on May 13, 1935 for 2,300,000 francs.
In his own words, Haut-Brion was his favorite wine. There is also the fact that Haut- Brion was near Bordeaux, and surrounded by good riding and hunting land.
Clarence Dillon made his nephew Seymour Weller (the son of his wife’s sister) president of the new company "Société Vinicole de la Gironde", thus returning to a tradition of family management at Haut-Brion. Seymour Weller restored the park, had the trees trimmed, cleaned the chais, and installed electricity along with new vinification equipment. He kept on Georges Delmas as manager.
Clarence Dillon last visited Haut-Brion in 1967. It was his last visit. Realizing himself that he was growing very frail, he said: "I’ll never return." He died in 1979 at the age of 96.
Like his father, Douglas Dillon graduated from Harvard.
In 1931, he became a member of the New York Stock Exchange and in 1938, director of Dillon, Read.
From 1953 to 1957, he was U.S. ambassador to France, and then served as Undersecretary of State from 1957 to 1959. He was Treasury Secretary for the Kennedy and Johnson administrations from 1960 to 1965. After twelve years of distinguished government service, Douglas Dillon returned to New York in 1965 and became President of the Metropolitan Museum.
The Dillon Family restored to Château Haut-Brion its well-founded prestige. The Dillons brought back the tradition and pride of family ownership historically attached to Haut-Brion. Introducing select advances in technology to the vineyards, they have opened the door for continuation of the great tradition of Haut-Brion into the twenty-first century.
The Dillon Family was presented with the prestigious Pilier d’Or of the French Institute/ Alliance Française by His Excellency Mr. François Bujon de l’Estang, the Ambassador of France to the United States and Mr. John H. F. Haskell, Jr., Président, French Institute/Alliance Francaise on November 9th, 1998 at The Pierre in New York.
Joan Dillon, Duchesse de Mouchy is the current president of Domaine Clarence Dillon.
Grand daughter of Clarence, Joan Dillon came to live in France in 1955. In 1967, she married His Royal Highness Prince Charles of Luxembourg, a direct descendant of Henri IV. Prince Robert is their son. In 1978, after the death of her husband, Joan married Philippe de Noailles, Duc de Mouchy.
In the early 1970s, Joan began work on the chateau . She took over the decoration and renovation, she purchased furniture and paintings, selected the finest rugs, combed antique shops and transformed Haut-Brion into one of the most beautiful châteaux of the Bordelais.
In 1975, she succeeded her cousin, Seymour Weller to the presidency of Domaine Clarence Dillon S.A.
Prince Robert and his sister Princess Charlotte spent many of their childhood years at Haut-Brion. He has served since 1997 as an administrator at Haut-Brion since the age of 18.
Prince Robert not only showcased exceptional wines such as Chateau Haut-Brion Pessac-Leognan 1988, "one of the greatest Haut-Brion’s ever made" (Wine Spectator), but also took this opportunity to launch the Clarendelle label in Moscow.
Domaine Clarence Dillon owns not only Chateau Haut-Brion but also Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion. With him was the main wine maker of the company – Jean-Phillip Delmas, the third generation of Delmas responsible for the quality of Haut-Brion wines since 1923.
In honour of the visit of Prince Robert, DPTrade organized a gala-dinner for editors and journalists of leading publications at a Moscow restaurant. Prince Robert told the guests about the history of the company, his family and about great Bordeaux brands they own. Today Dillons make two of the best known white wines in the region – Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc and Chateau Laville Haut-Brion, and great red wines – Chateau Haut-Brion, Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion.
During a supper, Chateau Laville Haut- Brion 2003, Chateau Haut-Brion blanc 2004, Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion 1998, Chateau Haut-Brion rouge 1995, Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion 1985, Chateau Haut-Brion rouge 1982 were served to guests. As an aperitif wine of the new brand, Clarendelle – Clarendelle blanc 2004, Clarendelle rose 2005, Clarendelle rouge 2003 and with dessert – Clarendelle Amberwine 2003 were presented.
The brand «Clarendelle» is a super premium class wine and is the new project of Prince Robert. Prince Robert commented on the creation of the new brand: “We trust, that connoisseurs of wine search for names which they trust and which represents alternatives to existing brands. Creating Clarendelle, the team of our wine makers aspires to find and make the best of the potential of Bordeaux terroir and from the from centuries of knowledge which this region possesses". A subsidiary of Clarence Dillon Wines, Clarendelle’s name pays homage to Mr. Clarence Dillon, Prince Robert’s great grandfather, and the ancestor responsible for bringing the family to the Bordeaux region of France.
Clarendelle wines consist of an elegant blend of Bordeaux’s finest traditional grape varietals – Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc for the red and Semillon and Sauvignon Blanc for the white.
L-R: Dmitry Pinski – Director of DP-Trade company; His Royal Highness Prince Robert of Luxembourg; John Ortega, Publisher, Passport; Jean-Philippe Delmas – Head winemaker at Haut-Brion and Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion;
Igor Davtyan – Director of DP-Trade company
“It is easy to make wine called Petit Brion, put Merlot on the label and make a fruit forward wine, and yes, I would have a success,” Prince Robert told Russian wine writer, Elenora Scholes.
“But I am building a brand distinct from chateau wines. It is going to be a long term investment for us. I can never compete with the New World wines, but I believe that from our history and our terroir we have inherited this ability to produce wines of certain balance, of certain elegance. They are lighter wines that ultimately the consumer will return to.”
Company DP-Trade is the exclusive supplier of Clarendelle wines in Russia and also Chateau Haut-Brion and Chateau La Mission Haut-Brion. The wines of these Chateeaux are imported direct from the cellars of these brands that guarantees to buyers in Russia the authentic biography of each bottle of these great wines.
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