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LUXURY CHAMPAGNES, WINES & SPIRITS

Closeries: Stéphanie Watine & India Mahdavi

Born out of the imagination of founder and CEO of Clos19, Stéphanie Watine, Closeries is all about encounters. Closeries is a series of rare encounters between an outstanding personality and a bottle that is just as much.

In each chapter of this series, Stéphanie Watine brings to light her guest through a sensory story and an unforgettable tasting experience. Inspired conversations over exceptional wines.

In this chapter of Closeries, Stéphanie Watine hosts architect and designer India Mahdavi. The tasting of a Château Cheval Blanc 2014 sets the scene for a unique encounter where the excellence of the bottle reflects the refinement of India's art. This exceptional wine from one of the most renowned wine estates in Saint-Emilion offers our guest the opportunity to share her impressions with us during an exceptional tasting.

Food and wine pairings, tasting notes and the art of fine dining are on the menu in this episode where India reveals her best design experiences and her future projects.

 

Stéphanie Watine

Hello India, I am delighted to meet you. Welcome to Cheval Blanc hotel… in this suite with an astonishing view of the river Seine. I welcome you today as an expert in our industry… you who have designed so many bars, hotel bars, restaurants and hotels.

But do I need to introduce you? You are an architect, a designer and a furniture designer to whom we owe the unique atmosphere of prestigious venues from Monaco to Los Angeles. I am also very happy to welcome you to talk about our collaboration for Clos 19. You created and designed these 4 trays for us. Can you tell us about them?

India Mahdavi

I imagine these trays as landscapes. Imaginary landscapes, which evoke the earth, autumnal colors, and also wines and spirits. They are abstract trays, like blank canvases to stimulate imagination.

Stéphanie Watine

The idea behind this series is to pair an outstanding personality with a wine bottle that is just as much. For this Closeries chapter, you have chosen a Château Cheval Blanc 2014. A very good choice… do you know this wine?

India Mahdavi

I know this wine very well, and that's why I made this great choice! I am very happy to taste it today. I am pretty sure I have never tasted the 2014 vintage.

Stéphanie Watine

A little story…
Cheval Blanc was originally a modest tenant farm in Figeac and became an independent property in 1832. At the end of the Second Empire, the vineyard reached its current land size (39 ha) and was among the most famous in Saint-Émilion. In 2011 a new cellar was designed by Christian de Portzamparc.

Its terroir is of Pomerolais type with gravel and ancient sands on clay. This explains the originality of its grape varieties: a majority of Cabernet Franc, supplemented by Merlot.

Did you know that this 1er grand cru is classified "A", and obtained a score of 95/100 at the Parker ranking? The reputation of this wine is legendary, exceptional, but very few have been able and will be able to taste it.

Regarding this vintage in particular ...
In 2014, the very rainy summer favoured the growth of berries, especially those of Merlot. A very beautiful late season then allowed good maturity to be achieved, with a total absence of herbaceous notes. These conditions were particularly beneficial to Cabernet Franc.

India Mahdavi

So I don't know the history of the whole estate, but I have followed the work of Christian de Portzamparc. He has indeed imagined a very beautiful cellar that blends in perfectly with nature… It is also an extension of the castle. It is all about clean lines and perfect curves. And if I remember correctly, there is natural light coming down to the ground. It is a perfect mix of modernity and classicism. This cellar is like a wing ...

Stéphanie Watine

Now it is time for tasting …

India Mahdavi

I was craving that!

Stéphanie Watine

Look at this beautiful colour: a deep ruby.
The nose is rich, airy, impressively intense. It evolves towards a bouquet of cedar. The aromas of black fruits, such as blackberry and blackcurrant, and red fruits, such as cherry and raspberry, blend harmoniously. The floral note reveals a fruity and heady aroma of rose.
Luster and aromatic precision synthesize the nose of this wonderful vintage. Can you smell it?

India Mahdavi

Yes, I smell it and above all taste it. I can smell red fruits, especially cherries. There is roundness as well …

Stéphanie Watine

Surprising mouthfeel! The attack is straightforward and intense, even opulent. Very fruity with a smooth and subtle greasy texture that coats perfectly the density and tension of ripe tannins.
Most importantly, the fresh and elegant finish is remarkably long.
Do you agree?

India Mahdavi

Yes completely. It’s very smooth and very elegant at the same time.

Stéphanie Watine

This smooth and elegant wine would pair wonderfully well with game meat, red meat or meat in sauce. India, which dish would you pair this Château Cheval Blanc 2014 with?

India Mahdavi

Indeed, I think it would go very well with meat or game meat. I would also like to have it with a St Pierre, a fish.
I like to have a red wine, this one in particular, with fish because it brings a kind of roundness… yes, I definitely think it would go well with a St Pierre…

Stéphanie Watine

The art of fine dining and hospitality plays a great part in your work. How do you approach a project such as a new bar or a restaurant?

India Mahdavi

That's a broad topic… I want to tell you about the last restaurant I designed in Italy, which is in Maranello near Modena. It’s actually a trattoria that I designed for Ferrari. It is located in the middle of a semi-urban and semi-industrial area. It was an old farm which was an iconic place because Enzo Ferrari came there to watch all his races. Ferrari commissioned Massimo Bottura, the great Italian chef, to reinvent the menu and run this trattoria. Coming back to the topic of inspiration, I work a lot with the context. I was inspired by the location of this venue. This restaurant is an enclave in the middle of an industrial site. So, I reinforced the idea of enclave by creating this building like an oasis of greenery and by creating lots of outdoor spaces, new terraces, a backyard, a pergola where a Virginia creeper grows. It is very green. And on the other hand, I took all the codes of the Italian trattoria, which I reinvented to make them more contemporary, more modern.

Stéphanie Watine

Could you tell us more about the codes you reinvented?

India Mahdavi

Well, the ground is squared like a large tablecloth. I emphasized the succession of arches of the building ... as if the arches are accompanying you to your table. I worked with red and yellow colours, which are part of Ferrari's DNA. But it's never a yellow or a red ... it's the idea of yellow and the idea of red. I tried to make this restaurant vibrate with a succession of graphic elements including one inspired by the ""cavallino"" which is one of the symbols of Ferrari. I pixelated and modernized it. And I created a pattern of it. I used this pattern for mosaic glass tiles, for a wallpaper, also in perforation on the entrance gate.
I also considered this place to be a hymn to the Italian art of living. So, I involved a lot of Italian artisans: Murano, Burano, but also Terracotta… There are a lot of references in this project that are for me a tribute to all these great italian designers who are my favourite designers. For example, I used poplar wood in Enzo Ferrari's private living room… as s tribute to Gio Ponti, who is a kind of benchmark for me. I also have had engine collections printed on tables and at service stations ... this is a reference to Fornasetti. All of these references get revisited, modernized, and in the end, it gives a very simple atmosphere because a trattoria is inclusive ... it is aimed at families. It’s also a very comfortable space. It was a very interesting subject for me to try to revive a trattoria in a contemporary way.

Stéphanie Watine

Is there a wine cellar in this trattoria? Have you ever been asked to design a wine cellar?

India Mahdavi

I often designed wine cellars in private residences. There is definitely a wine cellar in this trattoria but it is not visible to the clients, so I did not design it.

Stéphanie Watine

Do you have other prestigious restaurant projects to come? A breaking news for us?

India Mahdavi

I don’t know if this is breaking news but I’m currently designing another restaurant in Miami. A Japanese restaurant called Makoto. What is interesting for me is to arrive in a place and manage to create a hybrid, a “visual bridge”. In this case between Japan and Miami. It’s actually the fusion of cultures that is my topic.

Stéphanie Watine

India thank you for sharing this Closeries chapter with us. It has been a pleasure to discover this prestigious Château Cheval Blanc 2014 with you.

India Mahdavi

Thank you Stéphanie. I was delighted to meet you… I want to finish my Château Cheval Blanc 2014 before I leave.
I can’t wait for our trays to be launched! I sincerely hope people will be inspired by what we have created together.