Sometimes you just gotta have matching fingernails and accessories. “Mellerio jewellery is bespoke. We make whatever you want,” says Director of Communications Diane-Sophie Lanselle with suave understatement. “We’ve made jewellery for all the grand aristocratic families.” This vintage platinum set dates from the 1960s and is on display in the lower ground floor showroom. The House of Mellerio at 9 Rue de la Paix is an hôtel particulier of artistry and luxury: two floors of showrooms, a design studio, a workshop and offices. Best of all are the hidden archives. Deep in the darkness beneath the City of Light, priceless records of designs and clients are kept in temperature gauged perfection.
Lack | Kesh | Toome. The nomenclature of the villages en route to St Ernan’s Island resonates with monosyllabic North West Ulster brusqueness. Pettigo may sound more reticent but it’s full of robust no nonsense Georgian buildings backing onto the Termon River. Just before entering the jollity of Donegal Town and Magee “Specialists in Donegal Tweed” who are, for those who know best, also Specialists in lunch at the Weaver’s Loft Café, turn left, veer right, get lost, turn left again, go round the bend (physically not metaphorically), and straight ahead is the destination that inspired a murder mystery. A pink house bathed in lilac Donegal light immortalised in Paul Charles’ colourful thriller St Ernan’s Blues.
Professor Alistair Rowan, North West Ulster: “This was the island retreat of John Hamilton of Brown Hall (1800 to 1884) the author of ‘Sixty Years Experience as an Irish Landlord’. Mr Hamilton took a romantic fancy to the island, laid out a pretty garden on it, with a wall round the shore, and built a two storey Regency style cottage there between 1824 and 1826. It is five windows long with a continuous verandah running the length of its front across canted bays at either end.
The setting is indeed glorious, but the romantic whim of a young and newly married proprietor proved inconvenient. For most of each day the island was cut off either by the tide or, worse, by impassable shallows of mud. The construction of a causeway, despaired of by professional engineers, was achieved by Hamilton with free labour from the surrounding country.”
The story began in 1997 when Régis Camus, Rare Champagne Chef de Cave, had an epiphanic moment. He realized there was something special in the sparkling wines of that year and rather than declaring a vintage, he blended a small quantity of this cuvée behind closed doors, secretly ageing it in magnums. Now, 21 years later, the results are extraordinary. Régis’ personal creation has a rare depth and rich complexity, hitting lively citrus highlights while delivering tranquil notes.
Laure-Isabelle suggests, “The refined world of Rare Champagne instantly guided my hand.” Her design for Rare Le Secret High Jewellery takes inspiration from Marie Antoinette’s extravagantly silhouetted dresses. It features a single precious jewel of at least one carat embedded in a heart of interwoven gold bands set with 510 diamonds. The gold and platinum threads swirling down the bottle, reminiscent of the flow and structure of haute couture, represent the blend of Chardonnay minerality and Pinot Noir intensity. The 24 carat solid gold muselet cap is a first, even for Champagne! The enigmatic matt black presentation box with its silver mirrored interior resembles the cases of jewellery presented to Marie Antoinette. Indeed, it resembles a Versailles salon in miniature.
“Rare Le Secret is perfect to enjoy right away,” explains Régis, “and will still be at optimum quality until 2021.” It goes well with scallop carpaccio, hot oysters, and truffle risotto. Nose, palate and view are three ways to describe bubbly. So what’s the verdict from the House of Rare? Nose: subtle salty and mineral notes with aromas of liquorice, candied tropical fruit and bergamot are followed by dried fruit and powdery floral notes. Palate: after a lively attack of Menton lemon and citrus fruits, nuances of fresh apricot, vetiver and verbena express a serene minerality. Hints of acacia honey and incense develop an oriental and smoky vinosity and ethereal finish. View: dazzling. Graceful bubbles rise in beautiful ribbons and produce a delicate sparkle.