HRH Prince Robert of Luxembourg was in Los Angeles Wednesday for the 7th of 8 grand dinners being held around the world celebrating the 75th anniversary of the acquistion of Bordeaux’s first grand cru classe Chateau Haut-Brion by his great grandfather, American investment banker Clarence Dillon. The lavish dinner held at the Vibiana in downtown Los Angeles was prepared by Chef Thomas Keller of Napa Valley’s French Laundry for an exclusive group of wine lovers, industry tastemakers and the creative elite including Jennifer Aniston, Marg Helgenberger, Quincy Jones and Adrien Brody.
Clarence Dillon’s love for wine – and food – was developed early, growing up with a French-Swedish mother and travelling to Europe as a student. He studied art and cuisine at Le Cordon Bleu in addition to his business activities, becoming quite the Renaissance man. After Prohibition ended in 1933, Dillon began to search for winery properties to in part fill the potential demand for fine wine. Quite interesting for Prince Robert in sifting through his great grandfather’s old papers, Dillon’s search was not limited to Bordeaux. He also looked to Champagne and even to the Napa Valley, with Beaulieu Vineyard. Ultimately, he was drawn to the wines of Chateau Haut-Brion and the challenge of restoring a property that had been somewhat neglected during weak economic times.
In organizing the 75th anniversary celebrations, Prince Robert looked back to a seminal period in the estate’s history the 17th century, when then owner Arnaud de Pontac opened a tavern in London called Pontac’s Head – today’s chic wine lounge – that exclusively featured Chateau Haut-Brion wines. The wines became fashionable among the most influential writers of the time such as Daniel de Foe, Samuel Pepys, Jonathan Swift and John Locke, creating arguably the world’s first luxury brand. Prince Robert re-creates this history by inviting today’s creative luminaries to the dinners held in Paris, London, New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Tokyo and Los Angeles, with the final to be held in Russia.
According to Prince Robert, the goal of the dinners was to share Chateau Haut-Brion “with each and every culture” and no dinner has been alike. They worked with the most renowned chef in each city in crafting a world-class menu with regional flavors that paired with the wines. One of the most memorable pairings for Prince Robert was abalone (an asian luxury food) served with Chateau Haut-Brion rouge, the 1979 and 1959 in Hong Kong, and the 1964 and 1947 in Tokyo.
In Los Angeles, Chef Keller prepared a seasonal menu including Lobster Roll served with Chateau Haut-Brion Blanc 2002 and 1993, Wolfe Ranch White Quail paired with Chateau Haut-Brion 1989, and Rack of Lamb with Truffles served with the Chateau Haut-Brion 1976 and 1949.
For further information on Chateau Haut-Brion, visit the website.