Design

Apr 2, 2020

Telling a love story through a wine gift box

The family winemakers at Chêne Bleu have created a gift box that can be personalised. Chêne Bleu’s flagship fine wines are named after Abélard and Héloïse, the French equivalent of Romeo and Juliet.
By:
Elisabeth Skoda

The family winemakers at Chêne Bleu have created a gift box that can be personalised. Chêne Bleu’s flagship fine wines are named after Abélard and Héloïse, the French equivalent of Romeo and Juliet: their remarkable true story in the 12th century epitomises enduring love. The new, special edition 3-D box opens to reveal their inspirational tale alongside exquisite illustrations.

One of the most high-profile power-couples in history, Abélard and Héloïse were scholars and philosophers, whose scandalous and lasting love affair has inspired centuries of poets, artists, and now winemakers. Chêne Bleu’s wines are produced at the La Verrière estate, located high up in a mountain saddle in the Dentelles de Montmirail range of the Mont Ventoux in Crestet, Provence. Xavier and Nicole Rolet and their family stewarded this small historic vineyard on an epic journey from an abandoned medieval estate and priory in the South of France to an exciting state-of-the art winery.

The limited-edition Chêne Bleu gift box can be personalised by inscribing a name on the box. The box, which was eight years in the making, was designed by packaging designer and engineerer Claire Middleton in collaboration with Chêne Bleu’s principal Nicole Rolet. It is inspired by Medieval travelling theatres, as well as the much-loved pop-up books from her youth. The box also contains a secret drawer that you can fill with a further keepsake or love letter, and can be lit from the interior by special request.

Every facet of the gift box is illustrated by woodcut artist Jane Randfield with whimsical Medieval-meets-Modern iconography. This is in keeping with the style of the ninth century priory at the heart of the wine estate, but also, the edgy, maverick nature of this new winery growing on old roots. The ‘chêne bleu’ (blue oak tree) is illustrated on the front of the duck egg blue box – at the estate, a blue oak presides regally over the vineyard, forest, and medieval priory. Its branches were treated with bouillie bordelaise, the blue-green solution used to protect organic vineyards during a drought in 2005. It stands as an artistic metaphor for the philosophy of the Rolets’ mission to highlight the integrity, beauty, and history of the site, enhancing and reinventing it without changing its essence. Hidden rabbits on the box nod to the complex ecosystem that surrounds this remote wild wine estate and fantastical medieval-meets-modern characters adorn it in reference to different aspects of the joys, journeys and adventures that mark us and unite us as people.

This deep love of nature has set the tone of the estate from the beginning, leading the family to adopt sustainable, organic, and biodynamic winemaking practices. The land lies at the heart of the Mt Ventoux UNESCO biosphere, with whom the Rolets have established a Public-Private partnership to break new ground in sustainable agriculture, including a project to establish a roadmap to guide other wineries wanting to move away from the use of artificial chemicals by using bees to boost biodiversity.

Elisabeth Skoda

Editor of Touchpoints magazine, writer for Packaging Europe magazine and design enthusiast!

editor@packtouchpoints.com
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