Last fall luxury imprint Assouline published the ultimate book on the aristocratic sport of polo. This season they went one step further and fielded a polo team of their own at the 71st Annual Ambassador's Cup at the Mashomack Polo Club near Rhinebeck in Dutchess County, New York. The imprint's founders Prosper Assouline and wife Martine (above) flew in from Paris to cheer on their players, dressed in matching Assouline polo team shirts. Matches took place Sept. 24 – 26 with representation from countries including Argentina, Costa Rica, Ecuador, France, Germany, Hungary, Peru, Italy, Switzerland, and the United States. In addition to Assouline, other well known firms fielding teams in the event, run under the auspices of the Federation of International Polo (FIP), included Berluti shoes, Hunter boots, Hermes, Beretta, The Carlyle Hotel and Moncler, with the Hunter team emerging triumphant.
Filed under: Spirits
The limited edition L'Hommage de Pierre Ferrand was born of Cognac distilled prior to World War I stored in the shade of Ferrand's Logis d'Angeac cellar for more than a century.
Bottled in an exquisitely crafted, numbered crystal carafe, only 10 bottles will be available for sale in the U.S. by special order for the suggested retail price of about $3,000 apiece.
The aged spirit has taken on a beautiful dark shimmering bronze color after its long repose in its wooden cask. Exceptionally smooth, it has aromas of prune and candied fruits. Each bottle comes in a wooden case with a certificate of authenticity.
"We wanted to offer something supremely special from our cellars," notes Alexandre Gabriel, president/owner of Cognac Ferrand. "We chose a beautiful bottle to contain this rare Cognac [but] the taste is even more beautiful than the bottle."
Filed under: Spirits
The House of Delamain, one of France's oldest and last family-owned cognac producers, is coming out with something special for the holidays. The luxurious offerings from the House of Delamain, which has been in existence since 1759, are exclusively grande champagne. The new Delamain Extra de Grande Champagne Gift Set (above), for $199, features a decanter of Extra, a blend of intense and complex 35-40 year old Grande Champagne Cognacs, along with two deluxe tulip shaped Cognac glasses. Delamain is also offering a new Trio Pack of three 200 ml bottles of Grande Champagne cognacs including the Extra, priced at $99, for those wishing to sample a wider range of the House's eaux-de-vie. The additional Trio Pack offerings are their Pale & Dry XO and Vesper; Pale & Dry is a blend of 20-25 year old spirits with a bright amber color, while Vesper runs from 30-35 years and is fuller, rich and mature.
Want to cruise in style like Simon Cowell? Slipstream (above), the superyacht the American Idol creator spent his summer lounging around on is now available for charter with rates starting at about $450,000 per week – though if you want the full luxury package including private chef that Cowell splashed out for be prepared to pay around twice that amount. The sleek 196-ft. craft can accommodate 12 guests plus a crew of 14 and features mirrors above a giant waterbed, a Jacuzzi, an observation lounge with panoramic views, gym and a sky lounge with a retractable roof.
Launched last year by France's CMN Shipyard, their largest yacht to date, Slipstream's decor is a stylish mix of modern and nautical, taking full advantage of the yacht's panoramic windows. The interiors are finished in a neo-Art Deco style combining dark ebony woodwork and red leather paneling. The sundeck is kitted out with a spa, sun-pads, bar with BBQ and al-fresco dining area, and the yacht comes equipped with a cutting edge home entertainment system and satellite communications center.
Gallery: Simon Cowell Superyacht 'Slipstream'
Filed under: Spirits
Sitting down with Pierre Szersnovicz, the cognac house's director of spirit quality control and global brand ambassador, conversation wandered into a discussion of how, and why, someone would create a spirit simply for blending (nay, disappearing) into a mixed drink. While suitable for others, understandably so given the cocktail's continued reign, Szersnovicz emphasized that the newly created Connoisseur Collection was an appeal to the cognac aficionado and not the mixologist. To wit, Courvoisier will release two age declaring bottles in October, a 12-year and a 21-year (like whiskey, both numbers represent the youngest age in the blends). The 12-year old is a blend of stock from the crus of Borderies, Fins Bois and Grande Champagne, while the 21-year old is comprised entirely of the top-tier Grande Champagne. Double distilled, both bottlings are then put through a two-step aging process, first in young French oak barrels and then in reused casks to extract their tannis. The young barrels, which the house selects from a number of areas including Limousin, are given a medium char for subtle wood and vanilla notes, which avoids an aggressive, over-oaked profile. The results are evident in the 12-year, which shows light wood notes, spice and fruit with a finish of cloves and anise. As for the 21-year, the floral notes recede to highlight dried fruit, cooked honey and sandalwood.
And for those whom the market has come back to (or never went away from), Courvoisier introduces L'Essence. Housed in a Baccarat-designed decanter, which requires 30 craftsmen to produce and features a crystal stopper emblazoned with Napoleon's signet, L'Essence de Courvoisier contains a blend of 100 eaux-de-vies stretching back 60 to 70 years. A reliquary-like display box presents the bottle (which can be engraved) upright and illuminated by several LED lights. Wonderfully mature and complex, only 125 bottles will be available in the US, priced at $3,000. As for mixing this one, well, that's your call.
In November Abrams Books will publish an incredible volume showcasing 100 legendary trunks made by the famed French luxury goods house Louis Vuitton since the firm was founded in 1854. The luxe luggage includes bespoke trunks made for movie stars from Douglas Fairbanks to Sharon Stone and couturiers from Jeanne Lanvin to Karl Lagerfeld, as well as cases designed for Ernest Hemingway, Leopold Stokowski, and Damien Hirst. The trunks have been designed to hold everything from beds to bicycles, desks and iPods. Illustrated with 600 images taken from the Louis Vuitton archives in France and new photographs made especially for this book, Louis Vuitton: 100 Legendary Trunks is designed to be the "definitive history of personalized objects of both practicality and luxury." The book is currently available for pre-order on Amazon, meanwhile you can check out this incredible video preview.
Filed under: Spirits
V (pronounced "vee," a play on the French "vie," meaning "life") is a departure, not only in its composition but also its intent. The spirit is meant to be mixed as a base in cocktails, and Rémy Martin has paired with a NYC mixologist to offer several ways of how to do that. To achieve its clarity, V is produced using fall-harvested grapes from the house's crus in Cognac, which are then distilled in copper pot stills and blended. But instead of going into barrels for aging, this distillate is cold filtered (down to 14F) throughout the winter months and then left to mellow throughout the spring. It is only during the following summer that V goes into bottle and is ready for consumption. The result is a crystal-clear spirit with hints of pear and mint.
We'll avoid any "clearly" puns here and just say that at the moment we're looking forward to seeing how this release will be viewed.
The other day we reported that Madonna has borrowed Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's brand new superyacht, the 377-ft. Luna, while filming the new Duke of WIndsor movie she's directing in the South of France. The yacht is fitted out with two helicopter pads, a covered pool, spa, medical center, hot tub and 40 staff, including butlers and a macrobiotic chef. The middle-aged Material Girl isn't the only celeb cadging a ride on a pal's superyacht this summer, however – everyone from Brad and Angelina to the Beckhams are living it up on the high seas, though some stars are actually paying their way. Here's the full rundown on the famous folk's nautical hijinks:
1. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie: the world's most famous movie star couple have borrowed Johnny Depp's classic yacht, the 156-ft. Vajoliroja (above), which as we noted in April is available for charter at $130,000 per week, JustLuxe reports. The mahogany paneled craft features accommodations for 10 guests and a crew of 8, a formal dining room, library, plush salon and outdoor seating and eating areas, all decorated in Depp's signature version of Art Deco Paris meets the Orient Express.
2. David Beckham and Victoria Beckham: Posh and Becks have borrowed their pal designer Roberto Cavalli's iridescent 133-ft. yacht, the RC, which features a leopardskin interior, 15 bedrooms, a gym, whirlpool spa and locker full of fur coats for when the weather turns cool. Supposedly Cavalli only allows clothes he designed to be worn onboard.
3. Simon Cowell: The TV star is one of the few celebs footing the bill for his fun, having shelled out a whopping $975,000 per week to charter the 196-ft. Slipstream. The 12-berth yacht boasts sumptuous leather sofas, mirrors above a giant waterbed, a Jacuzzi, an observation lounge with panoramic views, gym, a sky lounge with a retractable roof and a crew of 14 including a private chef.
4. Paris Hilton: The world's biggest party girl is kicking back on Microsoft magnate Paul Allen's 300-ft. pleasure craft the Tatoosh, which as we recently reported has been put up for sale at $160 million. The yacht, which has a pool, hot tub, cinema, basketball court, recording studio, spa, massage room, gym, games room and helicopter pad, comes with a crew of 30. "The best summer of my life," Paris recently tweeted about the trip. "Our yacht is incredible! I'm in heaven on the water. Definitely the biggest and best yacht everywhere we go. Love it! Huge!" [continued]
Gallery: Superstars & Superyachts
Filed under: Luxury Travel & Hotels
Abercrombie & Kent offers many once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for family vacations, but one of the most special trips has got to be its river barge cruise through the Burgundian countryside. A chartered seven day cruise aboard La Belle Epoque, A&K's 126-foot-long, 16.5 feet wide barge, is a luxurious and relaxing way to travel and to taste award-winning Burgandy wines, and hence is nominated for a Luxist Award for Best Luxury Family Summer Vacation.
The barge, which is equipped with six cabins, all outside facing and each equipped with en-suite bathrooms. There's one deluxe double cabin; one deluxe twin/double; two twin/double cabins and two cabins each with twin beds. There's also a small swimming pool, a sauna and several sun decks. Bicycles are also available for those wanting to cycle in the towns the barge visits. A gourmet chef is on board to prepare all of the meals, which are included in the cost of the excursion.
The seven-day-long itinerary commences in Venarey-les Laumes. After a champagne welcome, there is time to settle in before dinner on board the barge. On day 2, after lunch, you will visit 12th-century Fontenay Abbey with its peaceful gardens and beautiful cloisters. On the third day, you will cruise to Ravières passing the 18th-century Forges de Buffon. It was here that the great naturalist Georges-Louis Leclerc de Buffon commercially exploited his scientific discoveries by harnessing the waters of the River Armançon to power the water mills. Barge guests will visit the hilltop village of Flavigny (where the film Chocolat was made) and then continue to ancient Alesia, site of the last battle between the Gauls and the Romans in 52 BC.
An exhibition of photographs by Chanel kingpin Karl Lagerfeld is opening in Paris this September in time for the city's Fashion Week. The show at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie in the historic heart of Paris will feature a mix of fashion photos, portraits, landscapes, architectural images and personal shots, including several of his longtime muse, Claudia Schiffer. Lagerfeld, who shoots all of Chanel's ad campaigns himself, has published several books of his photographs, and has his own art book publishing imprint and book shop in Paris called 7L.
"What I admire most is the photographers who have gone down to posterity with a single image," the designer tells La Parisienne. "An image - I prefer this word to the word picture - which went down in the collective memory of the civilized world [... ]. Today the picture is part of my life. It closes the circle of my artistic and professional lives. I look at the fashion world with the eye of the camera. This gives my work a basic critical detachment that helps more than I would have suspected." The exhibition runs from September 10 to October 15.
Aging pop chameleon Madonna has borrowed Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich's brand new superyacht while filming W.E., the new Duke of WIndsor movie she's directing in the South of France. No, not the gargantuan Eclipse – we're talking about the 377-ft. Luna (above), the world's largest expedition yacht which Abramovich just took delivery of in April. The luxurious yacht provides convenient accommodation for Madonna as she films the movie's beach scenes, London's Daily Mail reports. Each day she returns via tender to the luxe yacht which features two helipads, a swimming pool, games room and sunbathing areas, along with a beach club leading down to a swim platform. Abramovich, who generously lent Madonna the ship, apparently bought the yacht to tide him over while the Eclipse is being completed; afterward it will act as a support vessel for the megayacht.
The first Mediterranean leg of the Panerai Classic Yachts Challenge 2010 sponsored by the luxe Italian watch brand is now complete with an impressive showing amongst the elegant craft. The yachts Mariska, an auric cutter from 1908; Rowdy, a Marconi cutter from 1916; and Chaplin, a 16-metre Italian Navy vessel built in 1974, won in the "Big Boats", "Vintage" and "Classic" categories respectively during the race days at the famous French resort of Antibes on the Cote d'Azur. The winners each received a Radiomir Regatta 1/8th Second Titanio - 47 mm watch, specially created by Officine Panerai for this new season of regattas and produced in a limited edition of just 500 pieces. In total 51 boats split into seven categories participated in the event which was organized by the Yacht Club d'Antibes and the Club Nautique d'Antibes. Also present in Antibes, though not participating in the regattas, was Eilean, the classic 1936 yacht built by Scottish boatyard Fife, recently restored by Officine Panerai, which we wrote about in April.
Filed under: Wine
The ancient house that rests above Cattier champagne's cellars in Chigny-Les-Roses, France, is set back about forty feet from Rue Dom Perignon. Finding a street number is difficult – the only obvious identifying mark is the sign on the front fence that says "Chien Méchant." Not to worry: On a recent visit, a guide gave assurances in a heavy French accent that "the dog is dead."
The Cattier family, which now produces over one million bottles of champagne per year, purchased the house in the 1960s. Today, its windows are shuttered and it is only used to receive guests on rare occasions. The real prize is buried far below the chalky soil – a vast network of naturally air-conditioned cellars where Cattier's finest vintages gain their character. In a garage next to the house, a narrow spiral staircase wends its way some 30 meters into the ground. There, the temperature quickly drops from the balmy 25C temperature outside down to a chilly 8C, the still air packed with 90% humidity.
The cellars are about 150 years old, relics of the early days of champagne making. During World War II, they served as part of a vast underground network of shelters throughout the greater Reims area; every few feet, a patch of bricks still bears the burns of candles used to illuminate the long corridors when electricity went out during air raids. These days, the cellars shimmer with the golden bottles of Cattier's flagship champagne, Armand de Brignac.
A rare 1996 Aston Martin 'Sportsman' shooting brake (above), one of only two ever built entirely by hand, is expected to fetch up to $650,000 at Bonhams' sale of Fine Motor Cars and Automobilia at the 'Weekend de l'Excellence Automobile' held on the former site of the French Grand Prix circuit of Reims-Gueux on Sept. 11. Several more highly desirable Astons will be on offer during the stunning sale, including: a 1965 DB5 Vantage, one of only 17 left-hand drives manufactured to Vantage specification with a manual 5 speed transmission, estimated at €300,000–€400,000; a 1957 DB2/4 MKII Drophead Coupe, one of the rarest post-war Aston Martin models, estimated at €140,000–€180,000; and a 1986 Aston Martin Volante, described by the marque's former Chairman Victor Gauntlett as, "a stylish thoroughbred, beautifully built, luxurious, fast and immensely safe," estimated at €75,000–€100,000.