Chateau Latour will not host the biggest party of Vinexpo because it feels to spend huge amounts on a lavish celebration would be ‘indecent’.
The biennial fair’s opening party, which moves between the first growths, will take place instead at Chateau Lafite.
The venue was unexpectedly switched – after journalists around the world had received their ‘save the date’ invitations from Latour – when the Conseil des Grands Crus Classés rejcted Latour’s plan for a more scaled-down event.
A spokesperson for Chateau Latour told decanter.com that owner Francois Pinault wanted to throw a more modest party than usual, in light of the global economy, but he was turned down.
‘M. Pinault felt the tone of our normal party – with fireworks and a grand dinner – would be indecent and inappropriate in this economic environment,’ said the spokesperson.
‘We proposed something more modern, more low-key, but this was not accepted.’
Low-key celebrations are not generally associated with the first growths, especially not for the keynote jamboree of Vinexpo, attended by the world’s press and the cream of the wine world.
In 2007 Chateau Mouton’s spectacular party ended with a fountain-and-firework finale of fabulous ostentation.
Philippe Casteja, president of the Conseil des Grands Crus said that the reason for the venue change was due to a ‘technical problem’ at Latour
‘It’s true that Latour was meant to host the party, as they did 10 years ago,’ said Casteja. ‘These things happen, there’s no other underlying explanation. I’m sure it wasn’t a problem of money.’
Bordeaux has been awash with speculation after the Sunday Times – and decanter.com – reported Latour could be for sale, in December last year.
That the financial crisis has hit the Pinault empire hard is no secret. Shares in luxury goods conglomerate PPR, which includes Gucci, Yves Saint Laurent and Stella McCartney, of which his holding company Groupe Artemis owns 42%, plummeted last year.
Christophe Salin, chairman of Domaines Baron Rothschild (Lafite) said Chateau Lafite was thrilled to be hosting the party, which would comprise a traditional dinner and tasting of the top wines of Bordeaux.
‘I think the last time we hosted the party was in 2001, so this is a bit early but are very pleased,’ he said.
Written by Maggie Rosen