Champagne Supernova

Yarra Valley, Victoria
Tom Blachford

In-depth rejuvenation of a Yarra Valley icon.

A new-world outpost of the global Moët Hennessy sparkling wine house, a subsidiary of LVMH, Domaine Chandon has been making superlative méthode traditionelle sparkling wine in the crisp, verdant Yarra Valley for over thirty years.

Our brief was to overhaul the site and create a new brand-immersion across bar, dining, tasting and retail spaces. Inspired by the uplifting ritual of spontaneously popping the cork, we’ve celebrated heritage in a fresh affair fit for the 21st century. Views of the incredible environs were a natural starting point for considering the visitor experience, the range of which will traverse loyalists and locals, diehard food and wine thrill-seekers, ‘gramming millennials and new discoverers alike. Fearless application of colour reflects the extraordinary tonal shifts in the landscape throughout the seasons.

The diversity of experiences possible in the venue required due consideration be given to encouragement of individual Chandon ‘moments’, while retaining cohesiveness across all spaces. A clear visual narrative was key.

The idea of alchemy was fundamental to our conceptual framework. The transformation of ordinary base metals into gold: what better metaphor for the magical production of sparkling wine? We explored the ways in which materials react to passing time, processes and each other, and our investigations’ results are reflected in the application of different metals and metal finish treatments.

Similarly, the process of transformation in winemaking informed the organisation of space. ‘Compression/Release’ is revealed in enclosed, intimate spaces – the Tasting Room for example – and airy, exuberant zones, like the Lounge Bar. Open, woven materials are juxtaposed with the solidity of weighty, opaque substances to allude to the duality of density and lightness in sparkling wine.

These ideas were also rendered in a style that pays homage to Chandon’s French heritage, while retaining a youthfulness that speaks to its relatively recent establishment within the Champagne house’s lineage. Banquettes styled in aged leather and velvet, with brass light fittings, suggest a Parisian bistro aesthetic, but from there it’s all local goodness.

We always aim to celebrate local material sources and object makers. Spotted gum timber flooring and joinery is smooth and warming next to the remarkable speckled patterning of Queensland ‘Dreamtime’ marble. Textiles were printed by indigenous artists and we worked very closely with Melbourne metalworkers and craftspeople to create the pièce de résistance: a large but ethereal mobile hanging over the central bar. Dynamic and buoyant, this suspended kinetic sculpture gently bobs to the beat of its own drum, projecting a sparkling patina in a playful take on the unpredictable nature of bubbles.

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