Flavien Darius Pommier is a winemaker who also happens to be an entrepreneur. It’s hard to know which came first but this twenty-six-year-old man has managed to lift his most ancient of crafts well into the 21st Century with well-traveled routes of celebrity endorsement coupled with bleeding-edge technology. It’s a powerful combination.
The wines themselves have a blue-blooded pedigree with the vineyard located in the legendary Saint-Emilion appellation, one of the most prestigious in Bordeaux. It was founded in 1990 by the Pommier family.
The Pommier family already owned 1879 vineyards over an area of 100 hectares in the Bordeaux area. In 1990, his parents, Michel and Odette Pommier, realized a very old dream by acquiring, in addition to their vast vineyards, seven hectares which occupy an exceptional soil in Saint-Laurent de Combes, a town located in the middle of Saint-Émilion.
The wine was called Darius, in memory of a King of Persia who lived in the year 500 BC and in tribute to one of the grandchildren Pommier, whose mother is of Iranian origin. Since then, Château Darius is one of 200 wines currently marketed under the name Saint-Emilion Grand Cru.
So straight from the ancient world of wine, steps the young eponymously named entrepreneur and by dint of fortunate association through the official French President’s chef manages to orchestrate a wine tasting with Macron at the presidential palace – the Elysée. Once at the table, the wine’s pedigree is quickly established and Chateau Darius now has the imprimatur of the head of the French state.
Pommier’s role continued at pace. Another introduction, this time to billionaire real estate mogul Mohamed Hadid resulted in a strategic partnership with Hadid creating his own brand of wine. This relationship has allowed Chateau Darius to expand into the US.
It also didn’t hurt that Hadid is the father of supermodel Gigi whose partner is Zayn Malik previously of One Direction. At the birth of their first baby both wines – Chateau Darius and Hadid wine – were gifted as a congratulatory present.
In terms of geographical footfall, Pommier now turned his attention to London and has secured placements in many top establishments but COVID stopped his more active penetration of the UK and international market.
But it’s an ill wind that blows no good and Pommier’s enforced lockdown led him to explore another keen interest, that of crypto.
“I have a pretty strong interest in crypto and I am also very interested in art. So when I heard about NFTs early on I was hooked. Then I saw Chef Nobu make NFTs out of his world-famous sushi and I thought this is applicable to wines.”
He wanted to see if he could use NFTs to bring his wines to a larger audience especially during the lockdown. In the end, working with a technical adviser, he created NFTs from his wine label on the Bakeryswap platform but linked the purchase of the NFT to a physical bottle of wine.
“The whole point is share awareness of the wine after all.”
People purchasing the NFT could choose to redeem their wine immediately – or in a quirky choice could opt to collect the wine in person once the lockdown has lifted.
“I welcome people to come in September to Saint-Émilion to view the harvest.”
For Pommier, NFTs are an extension of his wine and he plans on creating maybe 50 new ones this harvest, building a limited collection for each vintage. It was not without its hiccups as Pommier discovered the volatile nature of crypto at one stage pushed the price of his NFTs way higher than the actual wine.
“We didn’t want the NFT to outprice the wine – the whole idea is to use NFTs to reach a new audience.”
It is all about the wine at the end of the day – Pommier is a winemaker and entrepreneur and not the other way around.
When asked to describe his wines he does so with relish:
“What makes Chateau Darius wines special? Well, really good wines can be drunk at the bar, by the glass, at the table. Our wines are very versatile and the 2018 vintage for example can be eaten with both fish or meat.”
He is also passionate about sustainable or green winemaking.
“We totally respect the environment. The vineyard is 60% merlot and 40% cabernet franc. The average age of the vines is about 40 years old. We work the vine with nature – the grounds between the rows of vines are grassed and the quantity of grapes harvested does not exceed 35 to 40 hectolitres per hectare, which is well below the permitted yields and guarantees naturally concentrated wines.”
I wish all those happy purchasers of his NFT linked wines safe travel to September to enjoy the harvest and their very own Chateau Darius wine. It sounds like a very special way to enjoy the wine. À la tienne Flavien and new friends.
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