It’s at about this time of year that my somewhat ageing (and aching) post Xmas body looks forward to its annual pilgrimage to Montreux in Switzerland and the home of the celebrated Clinique La Prairie for a thorough medical check and tune up.
From it’s foundation back in 1931, Clinique La Prairie has gained worldwide fame thanks largely to the efforts of Professor Paul Niehans, one of the most well known and respected pioneers in the field of cellular therapy, who injected fresh cells from the foetuses of unborn lambs into his patients. This heritage has evolved over the years and as a preventative against the effects of ageing, the treatment has been sought after by patients coming from all around the world, including many VIP celebrities and politicians such as Margaret Thatcher, President Putin and Ronald Reagan.
Today CLP as it’s known to its significant body of adherents has 60 consultants all dedicated to ensuring that patients can live better and longer.
The main reason for travelling to CLP is to partake in the so called Revitalisation Programme which consists of a 6 day battery of medical tests culminating in the exclusive cellular treatment which these days is extracted from lambs livers and administered orally. It tastes rather like swallowing liquid foie gras a not altogether unpleasant experience. For the medically squeamish the treatment originally consisted of several injections in the buttocks. I know which way I prefer to take my medicine.
The accommodation and food are rather splendid and luxurious and allows one to choose from a 1000 calorie a day diet or the more gourmet friendly healthy eating option containing a few more calories but which is much tastier. “Champagne” as the mineral water is described by the charming Head Waiter is the drink of choice at meals although there is a fine wine list containing some interesting half bottles which are useful for the lone dining patient able and willing to imbibe or his or her companion.
There is also a very good spa and beauty treatment center perfect for your partner if they are not taking the Revitalisation Programme.
The only forbidding factor here is the price which if you need to ask how much it is you probably can’t afford. The 6-day Revitalisation Programme starts at at about $30,000. On the other hand when you hear that mice treated with the CLP extract live on average for 40% longer than the untreated variety it sounds like a bargain-for some.
That’s what they say but I’m sure Gonzalez Byass and other legendary bodegas might beg to differ. None the less the offerings from Lustau are certainly very fine as I discovered recently.
Bodegas Lustau was founded in 1896 by José Ruiz, a court clerk, who founded his bodega on a small island: Nuestra Señora de la Esperanza. It was a modest beginning.
His son-in-law Emilio Lustau Ortega added his family name and moved the winery to the old neighbourhood of Santiago, in the historic quarter of Jerez de la Frontera. There, in buildings that formed part of the historic Moorish walls of the city, he slowly began to expand his business, still as an “Almacenista”. In 1950, the company began exporting it’s own sherry wines.
In 1988, Lustau took an innovative step by introducing a new bottle design for its wines. The elegant, dark bottle with sloping shoulders is exclusive to the company, distinguishing Lustau from the other Jerez wineries.
In 1990, Emilio Lustau S.A. was acquired by the renowned company, Luis Caballero, producer of liquors and spirits. This gave Lustau important financial support and the opportunity to develop and expand further.
In June 2000, Lustau acquired six 19th c. winemaking buildings in the heart of Jerez, covering a total area of 20,000 m2. These buildings were restored and today they are the company’s primary winemaking facilities.
In 2012, it was the most medalled winery in Spain and the seventh worldwide. Lustau oenologist, Manuel Lozano, has been named Best Fortified Winemaker of the Year seven years in a row by the International Wine Challenge of London and the bodega won a trophy for best Sherry in 2013.
So much for the past. What about the wines of today? I recently purchased three of the more modest wines in the Lustau range for a limited tasting with my colleagues at the Bespoke Dandy. The wines were:
An entry level Manzanilla with a dry crisp finish. Excellent as an aperitif with lightly salted almonds. These wines come from old soleras, mostly founded or acquired from 1900 until the 1930s.
A balanced nose with aromas which point to a slightly higher age (as the golden colour already indicates). Walnut husks, chamomile and meaty hints of bacon fat. Candied orange peel. Quite a soft yeastiness. Cashew nuts, almonds and a hint of green banana. Nice but soft and a little restrained.
Easy to find at about €13. 90-92 points.
Palo Cortado Peninsula:
Robert Parker – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate:
“A mind-blowing sherry is the non-vintage Palo Cortado Peninsula Solera Reserva. Like all Lustau sherries except for the East India, it is made from the Palomino varietal. A dry, crisp, full-throttle, intense sherry offering incredibly complex, nutty aromas, it represents a style that falls between the Amontillado and the more oxidized, heavier Oloroso.” (08/12)
Not certain about mind-blowing but this is a very accomplished wine with the finesse and delicacy of an amontillado and the depth of an oloroso. Perfect with cheese or nuts or as a post prandial digestif.
Oloroso Don Nuno:
James Molesworth, Wine Spectator: “Nicely defined, with salted caramel, date and green tea notes leading the way, backed by brisk blood orange and spice cake notes that add length and cut on the finish. Drink now.”
The “Don Nuno” Oloroso is best served as an aperitif with blue or strong-flavored cheeses, or as a digestif with nuts after a meal. It should be served at a cool room temperature. Notes of dried prunes and molasses but finishes dry. Impressive.
If like me you have a sweet tooth and a liking for the finest chocolate then the best comes from France. Others may well argue for Belgium or Switzerland but I find their chocolates too sweet for my refined palette, a little cloying and far too commercial.
My favourite chocolatier of all is the Paris based La Maison du Chocolat that was founded by Robert Linxe who was born in Bayonne where he trained as a chocolatier. Later he was apprenticed to the illustrious COBA confectionary school in Switzerland and went on to found his Maison in 1977 in the fashionable Faubourg St-Honoré, in Paris’ 8th district.
A second Parisian boutique was opened in 1987 with a New York outpost being established in 1990 on Madison Avenue.
Monsieur Linxe is a visionary who has been nicknamed the “Sorcerer of Ganache”. Ganache is a silky blend of chocolate and fresh cream is then enrobed in a fine layer of chocolate, creating associations of subtle and delicate flavours.
As well as ganache, Maison du Chocolat is famous for it’s divine champagne truffles and it’s selections of mixed chocolates. I’m also quite partial to their delicious drinking chocolate that comes in a handy ready to prepare home kit.
With Santa just around the corner for his 2015 world trip, the gnomes at Switzerland’s workshops are busily producing new products to be ready in time for the gifting season. Many of these timepieces were unveiled earlier in the year at Basel and SIHH in Geneva and are just becoming available now. Anything from this wonderful selection would be most welcome
Lange & Söhne Saxonia, Saxonia Automatic and Saxonia Dual Time
This storied German watch brand has updated three of its models from its popular Saxonia collection. The solid-gold applied hour markers have been moved toward the outside of the dial and are executed as double baton appliqués at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o’clock; along with extended black gradations of the minute scale. For the Automatic and Dual Time models, the seconds subdial is marked by numerals every ten seconds. All modifications were made in the interest of improved readability. The new designs result in a slightly smaller case for these two models. The Saxonia is powered with the in-house manual wind caliber L941.1, the Automatic uses the in-house L086.1 caliber, and the Dual Time uses the in-house automatic L086.2 caliber.
Montblanc Heritage Spirit Orbis Terrarum
The name Orbis Terrarum, is Latin for “globe,” “earth,” and “world.” This in-house complication: the MB29.20 automatic caliber displays 24 time zones in a very practical and clever way. The dial constructed in multi-layers, displays continents and oceans as seen from the Pole. Under the main dial is a disc showing day and night, which rotates with the movement of the 24-hour mechanism on the outermost layer on the dial. The names of an amazing 24 cities circle the center image surrounded by their zones on a 24-hour mechanism. The disc with the cities rotates separately with the aid of a pusher located at 8 o’clock. To adjust the time the home city needs positioning with the corresponding time at 6 o’clock.
Van Cleef & Arpels Cadenas
This august luxury house is re-introducing its Cadenas watch, first created in 1935 and is said to have been inspired by a zip necklace worn by the Wallis, the Duchess of Windsor. It’s known for an unashamedly modern design ethic with a large double hoop-shaped curve attached to a straight-lined case. This new collection is of nine models, powered by a quartz movement. The Cadenas is available in yellow or white gold. The Cadenas Sertie, in yellow or white gold, has diamonds on the upper surface of the case and an alligator strap attachment.
IWC Portugieser Annual Calendar
This famous annual calendar model shows month, date and day in three separate, semicircular windows. The switching mechanism automatically takes into account differing lengths of months. A perpetual calendar, the annual calendar cannot factor the differing lengths of the month of February or the leap years. Once a year, at the end of February, ithe watch requires manual adjustment with a built-in “corrector.” Its 44mm case, grooved bezel, the Portugieser Annual Calendar resembles the original Portugieser model of 1939. The small seconds sub-dial is positioned at 9 o’clock. The sub-dial on the opposite side serves as the power reserve display. The automatic in-house 52850 caliber movement has a seven day power reserve.
Parmigiani Fleurier Tonda 1950 Squelette
The bridge and main plate of the automatic PF705 caliber skeleton watch (for men and ladies) features a hand crafted open display. This reveals a skeleton movement that compliments the extra-thin construction. A platinum micro rotor can be seen on the surface of the watch. The pattern consists of the PM’s iconic lugs. The dial is made of sapphire, giving an impression of being invisible. The rim is metalized, which hides the points of attachment between the movement and the case. The dial on the men’s model is highly polished and transparent, whilst the ladies’ model features a lovely and subtly frosted dial that resembles a women’s veil.
Piaget Black Tie ‘Vintage Inspiration’ and ‘Traditional Oval’
These new models reflect the heritage of Piaget’s watches. The cushion-shaped Black Tie Vintage Inspiration has a slim profile thanks to its automatic Piaget 534P movement. The white gold bezel creates a wonderful contrast with the intense blackness of its onyx dial for a very contemporary masculine look. The Black Tie Traditional Oval for ladies features an oval case with a silver dial. The bezel is topped with 24 brilliant cut diamonds.
Roger Dubuis Excalibur Spider Skeleton Flying Tourbillon
Dubuis has taken the skeleton theme beyond the movement, extending it to include the 45mm skeletonized titanium case. It has all of the features of Roger Dubuis other skeleton watches, such as star-shaped design, the tourbillon shaped like a Celtic cross and other top finishes. The mechanism is a hand-wound RD505SQ caliber that features a flying tourbillon at 7:30 (one rotation per minute) and a 60-hour power-reserve.he CEO Who Saved Continental Airlines
Richard Mille RM 33-01 Automatic
The skeleton appearance RMXP3 caliber that runs the RM 33-01 has an off-center platinum micro rotor. This reveals a grade 5 titanium movement, that is wet sand blasted the surfaces micro blasted then drawn and satin-finished with the anglage worked entirely by hand. The taut lines of this sport-inspired design combine curvature of the brand’s tonneau like cases with the construction characteristic of its elegant round watches. The graphical style of the numerals with outsized dimensions provides easier reading. The tri-partite case, with a diameter of 45 mm and a thickness of 9 mm, is mounted on a rubber strap with a folding clasp in titanium. According to Richard Mille this is a chic design with a sporty feel.
Greubel Forsey Black GMT
The 43 mm case is made of titanium treated with amorphous diamond-like carbon (ADLC), a highly specialized black coating that displays many of the properties of a diamond. It is much harder than natural titanium. The main plate and bridges have a black finish too. Greubel Forsey says this is to bring out the contrast between the textures and surface finish of each component. The case houses a GF05 in-house movement with a 24-second tourbillon at a 25 degree angle GMT function, three-dimension globe for the day and night indication; a rotating disc with 24 different time zones, daylight savings indicator and a 72 hour power reserve feature. The watch is in a limited production of 22 pieces.