Like most purveyors of fine wine, Berry Bros & Rudd tends to sell vintage Bordeaux by the bottle or case. Now though, it has gone one better, by offering it by the barrel. And a very bespoke barrel it is, too.
As of this week (February 17), Berry Bros & Rudd has become the exclusive UK and Hong Kong agent for Viniv, a Bordeaux-based company that specialises in enabling individuals or groups to create customised barrels of wine sourced from Bordeaux’s most prestigious appellations. In other words, wine lovers become winemakers, with complete control over the entire creative process, from grape to glass. Thanks to Viniv, all this comes with plenty of hand-holding in the form of technical expertise from some of Bordeaux’s most famous oenologists.
In particular, your barrel (equivalent to 288 bottles) will be vinified and matured at one of Bordeaux’s smartest addresses, Château Lynch-Bages, where Viniv’s dedicated high-spec winery is situated. This is because the Cazes family, who acquired the Fifth Growth château in 1934, are also co-owners of Viniv.
Consequently, winemaking consultants include such Bordeaux luminaries as Daniel Llose and Nicolas Lebenne, who oversee all of Lynch-Bages’s wines. And just for good measure, the great Eric Boissenot is also on hand through the entire process. For those of you who are not familiar with Boissenot’s handiwork, he also happens to consult for no fewer than four of Bordeaux’s five 1855 First Growths.
Ultimately, though, you determine the style of your wine, beginning with the selection of old-vine vineyards for your fruit. You can take your pick from the best of the Left or Right Banks, including the likes of Pauillac, St Julien, St-Emilion and the Graves.
Throughout the six-to-24-month process, you can be as “hands-on” or as “hands-off” as you like. But there’s probably not much point unless you really get involved in all or most of the key decisions, such as the blending and creating of your own unique label. That, after all, is half the fun and added value of this privileged, insider-winemaking experience. As Jean-Charles Cazes points out, it “really does lift the veil on this rarefied world, providing a unique view on this industry and lifestyle”.
Needless to say, there’s yet more fun to be had drinking your wine (for many years hence) and from some fairly significant dinner-party bragging rights.
Prices for this somewhat intoxicating endeavour start from £6,900 and include production, fruit, winemaking materials (including barrels), label design and packaging. They also include the introductory session, vineyard-selection tasting, as well as the final blending session that takes place prior to bottling and shipping to Berry Bros & Rudd in the UK.