Recently, I had the distinct pleasure of joining Chopard in Bordeaux for a Baselworld Preview of the new watches that will be unveiled in just a couple of weeks. The watches — except for the L.U.C XPS Twist — are still under embargo, so I won’t be breaking any secrets. However, while in Bordeaux – the most famous wine region of all time — I also had the incredible experience of joining Karl-Friederich Scheufele, co-president of Chopard, and his wife on a truffle hunt, a visit to his biodynamic winery: Chateau Monestier La Tour, and a grand dinner at their Chateau.
During the trip — where a touch of tweed was a requirement — we were fortunate enough to stay at the beautiful Chateau des Vigiers, a 16th century estate with big rooms and vintage-inspired French furnishings. We dined on gastronomic delights at Michelin star restaurants and indulged in wine, watches and friendship.
It was a great experience to trudge through the mud, with the truffle hunter, Mr. Bonati, and his faithful dog and to learn of what goes into truffle hunting. The dogs are trained from birth on Mr. Bonati’s farm to hunt truffles with their keen sense of small. The truffle hunter we spent the day with also has pigs on his property that have also been trained to hunt for truffles, but we went out with a stout and happy labrador retriever who was trained to sniff out the truffle and put his paw over the spot where he believes the truffle is growing.
The key to growing truffles is planting oak trees in great soil and the region of Bergerac, where we were, is known for its truffles. If lucky, the oak trees become the hosts for the fungus and the “black diamonds” grow there. On the day we went out it was particularly muddy. The Welly boots (muck boots) I was gifted by Chopard were a size too small, so I waded on into the mud anyway wearing my every day boots. It was well worth a ruined pair of boots. Together we walked along the oak trees, with the dog leading the way. Then he stopped and sniffed a bit and put his paw down and didn’t move. His master then carefully dug around in the spot to find the black truffle — rewarding the dog with a treat when finding the expensive delicacy.
Even better then truffle hunting (keep in mind that while I love a good outdoor hike in the mud, and dogs, I don’t like truffles one bit) was visiting Chateau Monestier La Tour estate, which dates back to the 13th century. On the grounds is the chateau — a second home for the Scheufele’s — vast gardens and vineyards and the winery. The Scheufele’s have owned the property since 2012 and have restored nearly every aspect of the chateau, while also working on creating biodynamic wines using only natural soils, composts, and disease-fighting substances.
It was fantastic getting a clear understanding of how wines get their wonderful notes of licorice, lavender, berries and more. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a red wine lover and so this was a special treat. At their winery, the husband-and-wife Scheufele’s grow their own herbs that are used to fight diseases and pests on the grapevines. Those herbs and the spraying of the vines is essentially how the different flavor profiles find their way to the grapes and the roots of the soil … eventually offering the hints of flavor found in the wine’s tannins.
The trip provided great insight into the synergies of winemaking and watchmaking. In both, great attention to detail is a must, as is patience and perseverance. Additionally, I love the biodynamic winemaking concept that beautifully mimes Chopard’s focus on using ethical and Fairmined gold. Lastly, of course, I got to see, touch and feel the watches that will be unveiled soon — and they are equally as impressive as the journey through Bordeaux. I hope you enjoy the photo gallery below.