15 Dec, 2019FORTUNE.COM
The mansion known as Hôtel Werlé sits quietly on Boulevard Lundy in the heart of Reims, Champagne’s largest city, a 19th-century edifice built in the style of Louis XV, all architraves and wrought iron. It was long the private residence of the family that runs Louis Roederer, one of Champagne’s most prestigious houses; Frédéric Rouzaud, the current CEO, grew up there. Yet if you step through the front door, you’ll come face to face with a life-size statue of a bull by the contemporary artist Karl Lagasse, not unlike the brass iteration on Wall Street, graffiti on its flank and a gold oversize dollar bill pierced on its horn. In this old house, modernity is welcome.
That’s because Rouzaud, while guiding the Champagne house his ancestors acquired in 1833, is not one to dwell on the past; when a favorite tree died in the garden, he preserved it by having it painted in Yves Klein blue. So it made perfect sense that when he sought out an artistic collaboration on a Champagne, it would be with the designer Philippe Starck. The result was Roederer’s Brut Nature, the 2012 vintage of which debuted in November....
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