The barrique, which holds 225-liters of Sauternes, is “meant solely for exhibition."

By Mike Pomranz
February 01, 2019
HervéLefevbre

For many wines, the barrel is an important stop between the vineyard and your glass. Barrel aging can help mellow a wine out and imbue it with character before moving on to bottling. But for a batch of wine from Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey in Bordeaux, the barrel isn’t just an intermediate respite, it’s the star of the show — because this barrique has been made out of crystal by Lalique glassworks.

In 2014, Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey was acquired by Lalique’s Chairman and CEO Silvio Denz, and he commissioned this project to celebrate the winery’s 400th anniversary. The Lalique barrique — billed as a “world first” — is completely transparent (though not completely clear) allowing for light to interplay with the 300 bottles’ worth of 2013 Premier Grand Cru Classé Sauternes held inside. The 225-liter barrel apparently took more than two years to construct in what the brands called “a formidable technical feat.”

“Twelve different craft skills were involved, most notably the technique known as lost-wax casting that was practiced by René Lalique up to 1930,” an announcement states. “The molds are made from plaster instead of the customary cast iron. They are used for a single casting and their handling requires a high degree of skill…. A frosting effect, known as satinage, has been applied to the entire surface of the piece to reproduce the ‘repolished-satin’ finish favored by René Lalique, which creates an extraordinary play of light. The leather straps, fastened with crystal cabochons, were added to represent the metal hoops that usually encircle a barrique. The crystal bung is an exact replica of the glass stoppers that are still in use to this day.”

HervéLefevbre

“This is something really special for our guests to discover,” David Bolzan, Managing Director at Vignobles Silvio Denz, explained, “a work in which wine, a Premier Grand Cru Classé from the 1855 classification, meets crystal, one of the world’s most noble materials. Together they create a third dimension that is quite unique, one that stimulates all the senses.”

As for the Sauternes itself, Bolzan explains that it’s mostly for display purposes only. “The wine has already been aged correctly, bottled 2 years ago, and we decided to re-open bottles to fill the barrel,” he told me via email. “The point is that a wine which is in a bottle has no more sediments as it was filtered. Consequently, we won’t need to handle it again in the future because of the fragility of the barrel.”

That said, Bolzan says there’s nothing stopping it from being consumed at some point. “The wine inside is, of course, good to drink as it concerns a very good vintage for sweet wines: 2013. We have selected it because it is the first vintage of Silvio,” he added. “The wine will continue to age in the barrel, in a very air controlled room. It could definitely be tasted and drunk later on or be left in it forever.”

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