Tony Parker isn't content to merely collect and enjoy wine, he also wants to make it. The French-American NBA star has been busily investing in projects throughout France since retiring from the San Antonio Spurs in 2019 at the age of 37. On the heels of his 2022 partnership with Château La Mascaronne in Provence and Champagne Jeeper, Parker just announced his purchase of Château St.-Laurent in the Rhône Valley.
"I always knew I wanted to invest in wine, but I wanted to wait until I retired," Parker told Wine Spectator. "And I've always loved the Rhône Valley. Almost all my investments in France are between Lyon and Monaco, through the Alps with my ski resort, and Avignon and Provence with La Mascaronne." (In 2019, he co-purchased two ski resorts in the southern French Alps).
Situated in southeastern France along the Rhône river in the Côtes du Ventoux appellation, Château St.-Laurent dates back to the 14th century when the papacy relocated from Rome to Avignon. In fact, the property features a six-mile underground passageway that connects the estate to the medieval Palais des Papes, or Popes’ Palace, in the heart of the city.
The 100 acres of vineyard holdings were an equal draw for Parker, who grew up in France in a household where wine was always on the table. "At Château St.-Laurent, we're lucky to have many plots of very old vines, many up to 80 years old," he said. Parker is committed to organic viticulture and has begun the process of converting the estate’s farming. Established Rhône vintner Guillaume Valli is in charge of crafting the wines. The limited 3,000-bottle release of his first vintage—a 2022 red blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah—will be available in November 2023.
While Parker has partnered with others in the past, such as French entrepreneur and Château La Mascaronne owner Michel Reybier, he is going solo on this particular project. "On this Château St.-Laurent adventure, I'm all by myself," he said.
He has, however, teamed up with fellow NBA star Carmelo Anthony’s Club dVIN for his first release. The NFT wine club will offer 500 tokens for sale this month, each of which give buyers access to six bottles of Château St.-Laurent's future vintages as well as opportunities to stay at the château. Parker is renovating the 22-room château with the goal of making it "one of the most incredible reception venues in the south of France available for private use," he said.
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