Sometimes we Irish can be very proud of some of the things some of us do!
Chateau La Coste, in Provence, is just such a place. It is the brainchild of Paddy McKillen and his sister Mara Paula McKillen. Paddy bought a fairly modest bastide, albeit in existence since 1684, about ten years ago with its 130 hectares of vineyards. His sister Mara has been a long time resident in France. Trying to unravel the intricacies of this family is like trying to put together a million piece jigsaw.
Paddy first installed a whole new wine making team and with the assistance of French architect, Jean Nouvel, a couple of space age cellars. The steel covered half moon cellars resemble aeroplane hangars. Apparently there are three floors below ground. The clean steel line reminds me of another avant-garde cellar on South island New Zealand. The wine grown at Chateau La Coste now bears the “AB” biological label. This is in keeping with Mr. McKillens ideals for his estate.
We didn’t visit the cellars as we objected to paying an additional 7€ for the pleasure. We had already paid the seniors entry fee of 9€ and ate a splendid lunch which cost about 30€ per head. We felt the extra couple of euro was a fee too far especially since we had intended buying some wine… Perhaps it is the enormous debt looming over Paddy McKillen’s head that prompted this charge. Mr. McKillen is, of course, the Irish property developer who is a part owner, among many other properties, of the Berkley, Connaught, and Claridges hotels in Londonin. His recent spat with the Barclay brothers, about his shares in these hotels, will cost him. apparently, about 25 million euro. He is also “in legal discussions” with NAMA, the Irish National Asset Management Agency, which was set up to absorb the bad debts of rogue (or sometimes not so rogue) developers during those years of borrowing excesses. Their “raison d’être” is to try to recover some of this virtual money for the Irish citizen.
After the wine making improvements, Mr McKillen turned his attention and his money to his sculpture park. The result is truly amazing. Some of the works are from his own collection but most have been installed by the artists themselves. The artist is invited to Chateau La Coste to spend some time getting familiar with the area and then they choose the spot for their work and the work begins. John Rocca, the Irish designer, is currently designing a Waterford cut glass chapel which will be unveiled soon. The park is a work in progress and long may it last. The visit takes about two hours depending on how much time you spend admiring the installations. I didn’t photograph every piece as in some cases the angle was wrong or in others the sun was in the wrong place. I look forward to a return visit to finish the job.
The artists involved include the following:
Tadao Ando and Hiroshi Sugimoto (Japanese), Sean Scully and Guggi (Irish), Tunga (Brazilian), Franz West (Austrian), Liam Gillick and Andy Goldsworthy (British), Alexander Calder and Richard Serra (American), Louise Bourgeoise (French),
You can see some more information and photos by clicking here
Pour ceux qui parlent français il y a un article dans le Figaro
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