Michael B. Dougherty
Riedel, along with Miele USA CEO Nick Ord, convened at Miele's Manhattan gallery to announce the partnership, which they said went beyond brand synergy and represented an old-fashioned European alliance, sealed with a handshake. Ord said the goal of achieving Riedel's imprimatur was a personal, as well as, professional challenge for him, as he owns Riedel glassware and naturally uses a Miele machine at home. Extensive and rigorous testing ensued with an emphasis on Miele's patented water hardness-adjusting GlassCare function and the basket design of the G 5000 series (Riedel is especially sensitive about his glasses being placed too close together).
Satisfied that their Museum of Modern Art-worthy wine glasses were in good hands, Riedel gave its blessing. When used properly, Miele owners can expect their Riedel glasses to last 1,500 washing cycles, or about 20 years on average, according to Ord. That sure beats 20 years of the seven step method.
In New York, the Piaget boutique on Fifth Avenue took on a terrarium look for the evening's event, with the collection set in cases decorated to look like a wood nymph's jewelry box.
Cradled amongst the various faux flora, 18-white gold pieces sparkled under the display lights.
A miniature, diamond-encrusted bird perched itself on a ring, seemingly ready to dip its beak into a cushion-cut rubellite gem. Other birds perched on a white gold sprig of diamonds and pearls, while a floral ring bloomed diamonds, emeralds and pink sapphires. One necklace's 289 brilliant-cut diamonds seems to represent drops of dew caught on a diaphanous spider web. Another sprouted buds of pink tourmaline and pink sapphires, reminders that spring is, finally, here at least.
(On view by appointment only.)
Earlier this week, ICP CEO Emmanuel Saujet announced that a portion of proceeds from both the sale of items at Creed's New York boutique and Hanae Mori web sales would go to benefit the American Red Cross' Japanese relief efforts. In addition, a part of future sales of the new Hanae Mori No. 3, available in June from retailers like Nordstrom, Bloomingdale's and Sephora, will also be donated for the same purpose.
The next day, ICP announced that 50 Hanae Mori reusable tote bags, originally intended as an in-store customer appreciation gift, would also be donated to the American Red Cross to assist Japanese displaced from their homes and belongings. And finally today, Creed declared that any winnings from the 2011 season of their official polo team would find their way to the American Red Cross as well.
Japan is a market that has long and enthusiastically embraced luxury goods, so let's hope that more brands follow ICP's lead and give back.
With two generations of haute French chocolate making in the house (founder Michel Cluizel and son/CEO Marc), Chocolat Michel Cluizel unveiled its latest confections in New York. An animated Marc Cluizel welcomed the rain-soaked group to the family's Fifth Avenue shop, the only other Chocolat Michel Cluizel retail location other than the Parisian original.
Christie's Head of Wine-Asia, Charles Curtis MW, made some opening remarks about Taylor Fladgate, port wine and the auction market before handing the host duties over to Adrian Bridge. The CEO of Taylor Fladgate, Bridge cut an English gentleman's mien as he guided the assembled group through such bottlings as a vintage 1992 (sweet and earthy with slightly tannic finish), vintage 2003 (like a big Cabernet, with dark fruit and a huge nose) and a 30-year-old tawny (fig cookie, bitter orange and lightly floral).
Gillies, along with Highland Park's Martin Daraz and Gerry Tosh, were in town recently to share a dram of the precious release, which the US will only see five of this year, currently priced at $17,500.
Having spent a half-century in Sherry oak casks, the nose and palate evidenced the pleasantly expected notes of almond, clove, and candied orange. And while mellowed by age, I nonetheless picked up a healthy amount of vanilla and wood, which Daraz pointed out was most likely due to the fact that after 50 years in cask, the liquid moves beyond the portion seasoned by the Sherry and deeper into the wood staves. At just 2% peat concentration-which Highland Park still cuts by hand-the smokiness hovered at the periphery of the tongue, never feeling intrusive.
While obviously meant for the collector, both in terms of aesthetics and content, Gillies pointed out that her bottle design holds a reward for increasing the ullage: When viewed from behind, a rose window design becomes visible on the reverse of the Highland Park sandstone emblem as the level drops. "So you can pray to God for more," quipped Tosh.
The drive to Kapalua, along Maui's Honoapi'ilani Highway, hugs the western rim of the island and provides an amuse bouche of what awaits: a nearly endless horizon of surf and sky, perfumed air and an unusually strong sense of place. That last element being especially evident at the Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences, Kapalua Bay. If the mention of Hawaii still produces reflexive images of tiki heads and loud shirts, the Ritz-Carlton Club and Residences has made it a point to provide a more authentic, and thereby transcendent, island experience for its residents and guests.
Not to be confused with the Ritz-Carlton hotel, the Club and Residences property is part of the brand's equity-based program that allows members to either purchase a fractional residence at a specific location or sample any of the portfolio's options through a real estate trust. Either way, buying in results in a deeded interest that can be passed down to family members. But the quality sure to lure most into the former arrangement with Kapalua Bay is the lengths the Ritz-Carlton has gone to ensure that luxury and cultural accuracy aren't mutually exclusive concepts.
Don't call it a "gift guide" (although you can certainly use it as such). Instead, this is our wholly unscientific, criminally biased, fervently defended and lovingly curated paean to California's wine country. Despite all the doom-peddling and sky-falling tales that seemed to dominate this year's coverage of the industry, the Napa and Sonoma regions continue to startle and surprise, competing on equal footing with any of the world's traditional or au courant wine terroirs. Check out our celebration of the highlights, and then let us know what we missed in the comments.
Forget about wine (just for a second): this season's gift to have and to hold onto is cognac. With its stately maturity and supple, refined flavors, a well-chosen bottle of cognac doesn't just reward your giftee for 2010, its an investment in their imbibing future. If your bottle remains unopened next year it's not because they didn't approve, it's because they deem it an heirloom.
Pierre Ferrand Collection Privée 1914
World War I was in its first year when this Grande Champagne cognac began its long journey. Scoring a perfect 100 in France's Gilbert & Gaillard 2010 wine guide, the 1914 vintage ($1,500) is exceptionally developed with yeasty, dark fruit flavors and plenty of woody sweetness. For the rare book collector on your list.