You're at the dealership ready to sign a lease on a brand-new Lexus. The 302-horsepower V6, dynamic radar cruise control, adaptive variable suspension and Apple CarPlayTM come standard, but as a discerning wine lover on the go, might you be interested in some upgrades? Onboard temperature-controlled wine fridge? Iceless bottle chiller? Insulated four-glass case? All of that set in a tasteful oak frame with repurposed wine-barrel accents in the trunk, plus wine-cork floormats and festive stemware-and-utensils headrest trim, wrapped in a zippy Tempranillo paintjob? Welcome to the Lexus ES 350 F Sport "Culinary Build," powered by champion pro race-car driver–turned–Syrah star Scott Pruett.
If that sounds like your dream car, the bad news is it probably is, in that you'll never own one. It's a concept car that's been making the rounds from auto shows to the Napa Valley Film Festival to upcoming food-and-wine fests like Pebble Beach and Aspen, and Lexus gave Unfiltered a definitive-sounding answer to our obvious question: "None of the features are expected to be available in a production car."
Photos courtesy of Lexus
Pruett has raced in all sorts of 4-wheeled contraptions, from karts to Indy cars to NASCAR to Grand-Am, and he's partnered with Lexus behind the wheel, in front of the camera and in the design studio since the early 2000s; he's also been making some of the top-finishing Syrahs and Cabernets in the Sierra Foothills since putting down roots in 2006. When Lexus needed to figure out what kinds of features a winemobile should have, they knew who should copilot the project.
"So, obviously not wanting to have anything alcohol-based in the cockpit area," Pruett told Unfiltered of the design process. "Doing something in the trunk, and then talking through, 'How would it work, how would you use this as a consumer, going out on a beautiful day to a picnic, something romantic or special?'" Pruett provided some bottles—and even staves and heads from some old barrels to furnish the trunk.
Concept cars can get pretty fanciful and the ideas, like most of the cars themselves, don't always fly. But "people are digging it," Pruett said of the vinous ES. Lexus said there would be no commercially produced car with all the wine mods. But … maybe there should be, Scott Pruett? "Lexus just did this as a one-off. But with that being said, I think there's some elements—especially the wine fridge and stuff in the trunk—it's really cool!" he laughed. "I'm going to have to see if I can get one for myself!"
While Lexus was imagining the car-as–wine bar, Champagne Carbon in Reims has been designing its bottles like race cars. Each is clad in three layers of carbon fiber in a packaging process done by hand that takes a week to finish, head export manager Jean-Baptiste Prevost told Unfiltered. The inspiration is Formula 1 cars—also made of carbon fiber, as the polymer is considerably lighter than steel. Somewhat surprisingly, given the crowded podium of driver-winemakers out there, F1 was without a Champagne sponsor for a few years until 2017, when the relatively new winery shifted into the position. (Carbon CEO Alexandre Mea was an amateur karting jockey, Prevost explained.)
Photos courtesy of Bugatti and Champagne Carbon
After clinching the partnership with the world's fastest car sport, Carbon announced last month it would also be riding along with the manufacturer of the world's fastest sports car (or one of them, anyway): Bugatti. "Bugatti was looking for partners who have the same vision … in terms of design and quality and craftsmanship—and French!" Prevost explained. The house unveiled a special cuvée for Bugatti's 110th anniversary victory lap. Called EB01, it's a 2002 vintage Chardonnay-dominated wine from grands and premiers crus.
While Prevost and his team have created a special blend and bottle, and mind-melded with their Bugatti counterparts on events planning and sales synergy (the U.S. market is Carbon's next race), Prevost noted that a recent work trip also involved strapping into a brand-new Bugatti Divo, a perfectly street-legal automobile that happens to have a 1,479-horsepower, 16-cylinder quad-turbocharged engine, goes 236 miles per hour, 0 to 60 in 2.4 seconds and costs $5.8 million.
Which is a very impressive feat of engineering. We humbly submit if they can do that, we should also be able to get the wine fridge in the trunk thing.
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