David Bolzan, Managing Director of Vignobles Silvio Denz and Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey in Sauternes, discusses the Lalique Hotel & Restaurant, the world’s first luxury hotel located within a first-growth terroir.
How do you explain that within just six months of its opening, the Lalique restaurant run by Chef Jérôme Schilling was awarded its first Michelin star – the Sauternes region’s first and only Michelin-star restaurant?
After Villa René Lalique in Alsace opened its doors in 2015, which is home to a two Michelin-star restaurant (a member of the Relais & Châteaux collection and five-star hotel), Swiss entrepreneur Silvio Denz invested in Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey considerably from the beginning. This investment paid off with recognition from the exclusive Michelin Guide. We were recognized as a five-star Relais & Châteaux hotel almost from the opening and just after a couple of months awarded our first Michelin star. Chef Jérôme Schilling had worked for three years under the supervision of Jean-Georges Klein, our chef at Villa René Lalique. It was awarded two Michelin stars after a couple of months as well. Jérôme has been trained with Lalique’s values, creativity and refinement. He arrived in Sauternes with a lot of motivation and part of his former team in order to offer the first Michelin star to the Sauternes area. It’s a great achievement, but we work as a team, harder and harder everyday to honor this Michelin star. Sauternes is known for its humidity to make the grapes’ “noble rot”, and you need also humility for the rest.
What was the state of the vineyards and existing buildings of Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey when Silvio Denz bought it in 2014?
Silvio Denz bought a chateau that had been renovated 10 years before its acquisition. The outside and surroundings were in outstanding condition. The inside was obviously not done to welcome Relais & Châteaux customers, so we renovated it with our style and design. We also created some unique Lalique pieces for Lafaurie-Peyraguey that contain the ‘DNA of the wine”. These pieces are inlaid with the design of grapes and a Sémillon leaf (the main grape variety in Sauternes) immortalized in crystal: a jeroboam, crystal cork and transparent case all made by hand in the Lalique factories in Alsace. Each piece is designed to symbolize the universes of Lafaurie-Peyraguey and Lalique. We also created an incredible full-size (225 liters) Lalique crystal wine barrel, which contains the first vintage (2013) produced by Silvio Denz. People ask to see it in the flesh every day. It’s the first-ever crystal wine barrel, which was made to honor the 400th birthday of the Château.
How many luxury hotels are there in Bommes?
The Lalique Hotel & Restaurant is the only luxury hotel in Bommes and more generally in Sauternes and in the South Gironde region. It is part of the inner circle of 10 five-star hotels in La Gironde.
How is the Lalique Hotel & Restaurant contributing to the creation of high-end wine tourism in the Sauternes region?
The whole place is really experiential, if not emotional. We have prepared lots of surprises and original creations for our guests, and at just 30 minutes south of Bordeaux, it’s a very special region to visit – preserved from new building construction, where you can see the old with the new. Our neighbors – some of which have been here with their families for hundreds of years – join us in the celebration of Sauternes and are opening their doors and hope to welcome visitors. Château d’Yquem, one of the greatest wine brands in the world, is just five minutes from Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey. We hope to welcome you soon.