Montesquieu Winery Unveils the 2007 Derenoncourt California Wines: Stéphane Derenoncourt and Wine to Water Shine in Las Vegas
March 9, 2011, by: Lisa Duff Khajavi
Last week we at Montesquieu Winery had the great pleasure of celebrating the release of the highly anticipated 2007 Derenoncourt California wines with a fundraiser dinner benefiting Wine to Water highlighted by a delectable six-course meal specially created to complement the wines. It was an intimate and inspirational evening, with guests joining us from all over the country including California, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, New Mexico, Iowa, Illinois, Florida, and North Carolina, filling the entire dining room of Twist by Pierre Gagnaire on the 23rd floor of the Mandarin Oriental in Las Vegas. Several of our Montesquieu wine brokers were also on hand to savor the Derenoncourt wines in a new setting with new friends and to become better acquainted with the good folks from Wine to Water, a non-profit that provides clean drinking water to communities in need.
The effervescent mood was echoed by Twist’s stylish décor, which included spherical glass candle holders suspended from the ceiling resembling floating Champagne bubbles. A floor-to-ceiling panorama of the Vegas strip and skyline formed a stunning backdrop to the only location in the US where one can experience the three-star Michelin chef Pierre Gagnaire’s inventive cuisine, which featured such delights such as Brittany Loup de Mer (Mediterranean Sea Bass) in a Sauternes Morel Cream (a surprisingly ideal pairing for the Derenoncourt Cabernet Franc) and Australian Blackmore Wagyu Beef with roasted Sarawak Pepper from Malaysia and Isigny Butter (a fitting climax with the flagship Derenoncourt Tache d’encre Cabernet).
Each course was thoughtfully prepared with skillful execution and precise flavors. But as elegant as the cuisine, ambiance, and conversation was, the wines were the stars, each a unique expression of purity and character. We had the honor of Stéphane telling us the story of each wine as we tasted it. What many of our guests told us they found striking about meeting Stéphane and hearing him talk was his sincere humility and genuine approach. He is always happy to share his passion and insight, but one couldn’t help coming away knowing that he ultimately makes room for the wines to speak for themselves. And they do, most eloquently.
Stéphane’s quest to find authenticity in each wine he makes is centered on the interaction between site, soil and climate—what we call “terroir”. As a result, each of the Derenoncourt California wines is a single-vineyard expression from a different vineyard parcel chosen by Stéphane for its ideal soil composition, ample sun exposure, high elevation and low yields. He spends a great deal of time, along with trusted colleague and kindred spirit Hélène Mingot, getting to know each plot, ensuring that the vines will be lovingly tended all year round. It is this total commitment to the best and purest fruit nature can offer that ensures sensual and singular wines.
This bit about the origin of each wine is awfully important. Looking around at fellow wine lovers totally immersed in the Derenoncourt wines, soaking in every bit of the evening, it brought into perspective something we hold dear at Montesquieu Winery — the value of bringing wine lovers closer to the hands and land that craft the wines. It is this personal connection that results in greater understanding of and appreciation for the art of winemaking and the ability to savor wine for the individual creation it is.
Speaking of personal connections, we musn’t neglect what was one of the most exciting elements of the event — our blossoming partnership with Doc Hendley and his team at Wine to Water. Hearing Doc speak about the critical cause of clean water and experiencing his passion for people in need was humbling. And it made us all the more grateful that we’re able to contribute in our own small way to providing water for Haitians who desperately need it. Between funds raised by the dinner and donating 10% of our March revenues from the 2007 Derenoncourt California wines, we hope to raise enough to provide at least 10,000 people in Haiti with clean drinking water. We are honored to be aligning with such a dynamic group doing such good work, and we’re inspired by Doc’s heartfelt vision to bring clean water to one million people within five years. Let’s hope even more wineries to join us by supporting Doc and his team.
The event brought into sharp relief the fact that Doc and Stéphane, although blessed with different skill sets, have much in common. Both are self-made men, who come from humble origins—Doc as a bartender and Stéphane as a vineyard laborer. Through passion and commitment, they gained skill by diving in and following their hearts—by living their dreams. By working hard from the ground up they have achieved tremendous success in their respective fields along with genuine respect from all they have encountered.
Both men have also stayed true to their values and origins. Stéphane has never strayed from his connection to the land, respecting nature and never prescribing to a set “formula” for wines. And Doc has kept faith with his commitment to sustainable well-building practices, grassroots organizing and unwavering belief in the power of one person to make a difference.
They both have a straightforward approach, which yields amazing results! Stéphane dotes on the soil and vines rather than relying on fancy winemaking techniques while Doc focuses on hand-dug and hand-operated wells rather than complicated rigs that break and are costly to fix. Add to the mix that they both love to play the guitar and it’s a match made in heaven!
These meaningful connections are essential as we strive to make a difference in the world by enhancing quality of life through the appreciation and enjoyment of wine. Thank you to all who joined us for the unveiling of the 2007 Derenoncourt California wines—it was truly a pleasure to enjoy sublime wines together in the company of the winemaker who created them. It was an evening to remember, and we look forward to many more opportunities to share great wines for a great cause together in the future!