The pioneering family winemakers at Chêne Bleu have created a magical gift box that you can personalise this Mother’s Day.
Chêne Bleu’s flagship fine wines are named after Abélard and Héloïse, the French equivalent of Romeo and Juliet: their remarkable true story in the 12th century epitomises enduring love. The new, special edition 3-D box opens to reveal their inspirational tale alongside exquisite illustrations.
One of the most high-profile power-couples in history, Abélard and Héloïse were scholars and philosophers, whose scandalous and lasting love affair has inspired centuries of poets, artists, and now winemakers. Chêne Bleu’s wines are produced at the La Verrière estate, located high up in a pollution-free mountain saddle in the Dentelles de Montmirail range of the Mont Ventoux in Crestet, Provence. Xavier and Nicole Rolet and their family stewarded this small historic vineyard on an epic journey from an abandoned medieval estate and priory in the South of France to an exciting state-of-the art winery.
The limited-edition Chêne Bleu gift box can be personalised this Mother’s Day by inscribing a name on the gift box. The box, which was eight years in the making, was created by the winery’s Principal, Nicole Rolet and designed with her friend and colleague, New Zealand-born product designer and engineer Claire Middleton. It is inspired by a traditional Italian story-telling “Teatrino” mini-theatre, as well as the much loved pop-up books from her youth. The box also contains a secret drawer that you can fill with a further keepsake or love letter and can be lit from the interior by special request.
Every facet of the gift box is illustrated by woodcut artist Jane Randfield with whimsical Medieval-meets-Modern iconography. This is in keeping with the style of the ninth century priory at the heart of the wine estate, but also, the edgy, maverick nature of this new winery growing on old roots. The ‘chêne bleu’ (blue oak tree) is illustrated on the front of the duck egg blue box – at the estate, a blue oak presides regally over the vineyard, forest, and medieval priory. Its branches were treated with bouillie bordelaise, the blue-green solution used to protect organic vineyards during a drought in 2005. It stands as an artistic metaphor for the philosophy of the Rolets’ mission to highlight the integrity, beauty, and history of the site, enhancing and reinventing it without changing its essence. Hidden rabbits on the box nod to the complex ecosystem that surrounds this remote wild wine estate and fantastical medieval-meets-modern characters adorn it in reference to different aspects of the joys, journeys and adventures that mark us and unite us as people.
This deep love of nature has set the tone of the estate from the beginning, leading the family to adopt sustainable, organic, and biodynamic winemaking practices. The land lies at the heart of the Mt Ventoux UNESCO biosphere, with whom the Rolets have established a Public-Private partnership to break new ground in sustainable agriculture, including a project to establish a roadmap to guide other wineries wanting to move away from the use of artificial chemicals by using bees to boost biodiversity.
Xavier and Nicole Rolet and their family painstakingly spent over twenty years restoring the abandoned La Verrière estate, harnessing the unforgiving terrain, cool microclimate, and exceptional biodiversity of this mountain-protected saddle to produce these refined yet expressive southern Rhône red blends with a focus on Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, as well as award-winning whites and rosés. With the vineyard situated on top of four official Rhône appellations, including the up-and-coming AOC Ventoux, the wines are often listed as Vin de Pays (IGP) to give them full freedom of expression, and are often referred to by the press as the world’s first “Super-Rhônes”, garnering praise from critics and sommeliers worldwide.
Abélard & Heloise as two parts of a whole
Chêne Bleu’s award-winning red Abélard is an intense, muscular, brooding Grenache blend with a splash of Syrah, fitting of this expressive and charismatic philosopher. His brilliant student, then lover, Héloïse, is honoured with a Syrah blend with a splash of Grenache, balanced and elegant through restraint – and a touch of white wine softens the blend with a delicately fragrant nose. Their son Astralabe – whose birth led to the star-crossed lovers being forcefully separated to live the remainder of their lives in religious solitude – is an easy drinking yet well-balanced Grenache-Syrah blend that complements its more sophisticated parents and can be selected to create a family of Chêne Bleu wines for the gift box. As the “baby” in the family, Astralabe is known affectionately as the “Vin de Geek”, in reference to the Medieval lovers now Skyping with each other on the label.
Explains Nicole Rolet: “This gift box is very personal to me, as it seeks to illustrate some of the cornerstones of our family’s journey into the wild heart of winemaking. I wanted to showcase what is most important to us. The site has fantastical qualities that have the power to connect anyone who visits with greater truths about the meaning of life – a sense of place, a deep respect for the land and its history, but also the importance of making a commitment to never accepting the status quo, to push boundaries, to keep seeking improvement for the benefit of others.”
The Chêne Bleu limited-edition gift box, containing a selection of the wines, can be purchased from Hedonism Wines in London or directly from the winery at email@example.com, with an RRP of €150 (£127.24 + shipping) for Abélard & Heloïse or €160 (£135.66 + shipping) for Abélard, Heloïse and Astralabe. Last orders from the winery must be placed before 19th March to arrive in time for Mother’s Day (22nd March).
The gift box can also be purchased in-store at Hedonism Wines in London’s Mayfair from £167.
For more information visit: www.chenebleu.com