The first French-Italian joint venture has been finalised between two great names in wine – and one of the world's greatest architects is building the winery.

Domains Barons de Rothschild and premium Italian estate Castellare di Castellina have closed their agreement to make a wine that should appear on the shelves in 2003.

No details have been released but senior sources at both Castellare and DBR have confirmed the deal, which was born of initially informal meetings between Castellare owner Paolo Panerai and Baron Eric de Rothschild.

It is understood the venture will involve an estate which will be located in the Maremma region of Italy, near the resort of Punta Ala. The estate consists of some 500 ha of land, about a quarter of which will be planted to vine.

A winery will be built by world-renowned architect Renzo Piano, who has dominated the world architecture scene since the 1960s, and whose most famous project is the Centre Georges Pompidou (pictured) in Paris, which he designed with British architect Richard Rogers. His office was unable to give details on the commission, but confirmed that it was going ahead.

picture courtesy renzopiano.com

Written by Adam Lechmere7 December 2001