Blending Wine and Art at Chateau La Coste in Provence
Château La Coste
This vineyard is found just outside of Aix-en-Provence, near the town of Puy-Sainte-Réparade. It is not to be confused with the town of Lacoste (that will be another post). Paddy McKillen, a wealthy Irishman, purchased the old bastide and surrounding land in 2002. He is a man who knows about premium quality, and he is the majority owner of several high-end hotels, including London hotels Claridges and the Connaught.
The domaine can be found in the Bouches-du-Rhône between the Durance River and Luberon massif. The terrain is undulating; the clay soil supports the growth of olives, oaks, pines, almonds, and grapes. In total, the property is 123 hectares in size.
The vision to create a world-class setting for contemporary art and architectural structures and good wine started in 2004. Smart, or lucky McKillen, heavily invested in real estate, made it through the financial crisis with only a few licks. He has plenty of money to move forward with the ambitious dream at Chateau La Coste.
McKillen hired Jean Nouvel, a French architect, to develop the site master plan for the vineyard. The principal buildings on the site include; an arts centre and chapel (designed by Tadao Ando – Japan), the music pavilion (Gehry Partners – US) and several buildings related to making wine. This group of world-renowned architects was challenged to work within the natural surroundings and the existing buildings, including a bastide from 1682 in the Venetian style.
The structures are striking, but equally arresting is the collection of contemporary art sculptures found around the site. These sculptures are not suitable for just any urban backyard. The artists were invited on location to “breathe” in the landscape and let it inspire their creative juices. The permanent installation includes the likes of grandmasters; Calder, Goldsworthy, Matisse, Shannon, Scully and others.
Plans for the site include a luxury hotel and spa, a winemaking (oenology) school and a temporary art exhibit space. The vision is enormous, the expense certainly beyond the means of most mortals.
If the balance of the surroundings is not impressive enough, the wine is produced in an iconic curved metal building, shaped like a hanger and designed by Jean Nouvel. Given the enormous capital investment that Mr McKillen has made on this property, he will need to sell a lot of wine for a long time.
Bordeaux wine producer, Matthieu Cosse joined the group in 2006. His focus is on wine production that is organic and bio-dynamic. The grape varieties planted at the vineyard are suitable for producing red, white and rosé wines. The grapes include; Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Sauvignon Blanc, Syrah and Vermentino.
Find out about the vine, the art and the architecture at Ginger and Nutmeg’s blog post: Blending Wine and Art at Chateau La Coste in Provence.
Make sure to visit the permanent installation by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei at Chateau La Coste. It’s entitled Ruyi Path, after the ceremonial sceptre that symbolizes power and good fortune in Chinese history. The artist has followed the shape of the sceptre for a new pathway that weaves between the forest’s trees at Château La Coste.