2010 Koons Mouton Label
2003 Koons Limited Edition D.P. Rose (above) & 2003 David Lynch D.P. (below)
Consume or speculate, the iconic luxury brands (and lands) of France are in demand and have never been hotter. Within France few vineyard sites are more coveted than Cru sites in the Champagne region or the 1st growth vineyards of Bordeaux. Within Champagne, the house of Dom Perignon certainly inhabits a respected place among the pantheon of luxury brands and within Bordeaux, Chateau Mouton-Rothschild is second to none. To get to and stay at the top requires constant work and forward motion, like a shark in water the actors must continue to “swim or die.” With constant vigilance, quality winemaking, master blending and smart, often artistic, marketing, year after year D.P. and Mouton maintain their prestigious positions and continue to grow. Whether these venerable houses strive to produce collectible items of speculative value or decadent products to be consumed at the dinners and soirees of the global elite, Mouton and Dom Perignon, along with their collaborating artists, seek to reflect precisely what buyers wants to see and celebrate within themselves.
For a splashy follow-up release to the David Lynch designed 2003 vintage offering, the team at Dom Perignon has taken a page out of the Baroness Rothschild’s book by engaging American artist Jeff Koons to launch a limited edition of their 2003 rose. Since the goal is to use marketing to distinguish the house of Dom Perignon even further from among luxury champagne brands, a collaboration with former commodities broker and onetime “world’s most expensive living artist” Jeff Koons is an infinitely logical solution.
In his work Koons employs artistic technique to alter and transform familiar images/objects into his finished product. A perfect illustration of this is the 2010 Mouton label on which he has reproduced the “Birth of Venus” scene from a fresco in Pompeii and altered it by overlaying a simple silver line drawing of a ship sailing under a full sun. In choosing to use the iconic Birth of Venus motif for the label of an iconic chateau in a potentially classic vintage, Koons exhibits nuanced artistic vision in his successful creation of a label that both looks appropriate and feels respectful of the product. Inside the bottle the 2010 Mouton is 94% Cab (the most ever) and has been called magnificent, reminiscent of the classic 1947.
For his collaboration with Dom Perignon Koons sticks with the Venus theme but employs a much older incarnation of the allegorical figure called the Venus of Willendorf. “Venus” only in name, the Willendorf statuette is actually a 25,000 year old fertility carving that predates mythical Venus by millennia and is the inspiration for Koons’s famous “Magenta Balloon Venus” sculpture. The “Balloon Venus” is in turn being repurposed as the piece that will launch the 2003 Dom Peirgnon Rose, in miniature, as housing for each limited edition bottle. The decision to use a replica of one of his own “iconic” pieces in promotion of Dom Perignon is divergent from his Mouton effort in that it feels distracting and creates a show of cross-branding that risks making the actual wine a complete afterthought. Bright, shiny and futuristic, like a “dazzling trophy made for the super-rich,” the 2003 Dom Perignon rose will certainly be recognizable by the sculpture in which it is housed.
So, if it is considered “fashionable to have a multi-million dollar Koons on order,” will people be lining up for his miniature Balloon Venus that comes with free champagne? At $20,000 I bet D.P. is hoping so, their limited edition launch signals the transformation of a luxury consumption item into an item of much more rare and potentially speculative value. What do you think, will you see yourself smiling in its reflective magenta surfaces?