Luxury Wine and Palace distinction… A 5 star hotel is a 5 star hotel. A Palace is a unique experience.

(More wine news on www.vitabella.fr) Palace distinctions were announced this week in France and 8 luxury hotels were honoured. Critics arose and said that creating new distinctions beside the "1 to 5 star system" made it too complicated for international clients. This controversy immediately reminded me of the time when it was said that international consumers were demanding for a better readibility of wine labels especially on the high-end part. A change was needed in a way to make, for example, burgundy wines' names more approachable and understandable. Let's forget about Chambolle Musigny 1er cru Les Amoureuses or Chambolle Musigny 1er cru Les Cras and let's name them Chambolle Musigny 1er cru 100% Pinot Noir. But history tells that Luxury needs to take a different approach to avoid standardization.

Hotel du Palais (Biarritz), Les Airelles (Courchevel), Le Cheval Blanc (Courchevel, owned by Bernard Arnault), Le Bristol (Paris), Le Meurice (Paris), Park Hyatt (Paris), Plaza Athenee (Paris) and Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat (St Jean Cap Ferrat) are actually the first 8 palaces in France. In fact, I should write "in the world", as this distinction is only used in France. 'French Excellence" or "French Arrogance", this "appellation" pushed some experts to criticize the new system saying that luxury hotels do not need this category in a world where the internationalization of the clientele is increasing dramatically and also where "brand" counts first by far.

When I lstened to these critics, I could not help thinking of what was said about the "too complicated French appellation system in a world where international consumers need brands". The two subjects are very much related when we are considering the luxury market. Regarding luxury, there is a large diversity of consumers and some are now looking to get access to something different than only a luxury international standard.

The difference is huge and we could make it as simple as this statement: A 5 star hotel is a 5 star hotel. A Palace is a unique experience. And only when you have understood this difference, can you understand why it is so important for some luxury wine lovers to choose a Chambolle Musigny 1er cru Les Amoureuses rather than a Chambolle Musigny 1er cru Pinot Noir. Then they start talking about the differences between Les Amoureuses and Les Cras, then they explain the history of those places, then they talk about the different tastes...All of this makes the experience unique and memorable. And some clientele needs this luxury identity based on many different aspects including a sense of both cultural and national roots. This is what makes the Palace distinction unique in the world and very much sought after. This is what makes the complicated Appellation system (not only in France but also in Italy...) so unique and very much sought after by a clientele who loves luxury wines.

(More wine news on www.vitabella.fr)