“You are coming to lunch with me,” said Jaume Marin of. Little did we know that we were going to visit a man listed on the Forbes top 100 and he was flying into Girona, Spain for the day from Switzerland for this special occasion. Now that sounded like an adventure.
As we drove up to his estate we knew we were in for a treat when we parked in the tree lined parking lot. Yes, this house had it's own parking lot. Feeling a little underdressed since we had just come from a hike up the bell tower of Girona, we put on our game faces and walked in with a smile.
There was no need to be uncomfortable though, our hosts were welcoming and friendly. Everyone made us feel right at home. And what a home it was! As we turned the corner we were greeted to a scene of Roman arches, a grand estate and sprawling grounds overlooking the Costa Brava.
We started the day by taking a tour of the estate. It was decorated by the famous design company RCR Aranda and this design actually won an award in 2008. The matron of the house would beg to differ on the prize however, as she is not a big fan of the design. It was her husband and the designers working hand in hand who came up with the concept of turning this centuries old home into a fusion of world charm and modern design. It was a visual spectacle with interesting furniture in an open concept space. But probably not the most practical for living as even the toilets were sitting in the middle of wide open spaces.
As nice as it was, it didn't feel like a home to me. It makes for a perfect place to host events though and that is exactly what they do. Weddings and private parties take place in their beautiful courtyard surrounded by romantic pilars and this was where we spent the afternoon with Jaume, Rick and Dave of and the rest of the VIP's form Costa Brava tourism board. We felt very privileged to be there.
We started our meal with a tasting of the estate owners wine. Bell Lloc is a boutique wine with only 3000 to 5000 bottles produced each year. Known as a naked wine, it is all grown organically on the estate. Nothing is processed using chemicals or pesticides. It is so clean that they even refuse to put a label on the bottle. The bottle is completely black and sleek with all the pertinent information only on the neck.
But the neck of the bottle isn't your regular paper label. it is a patented metal label that slides on and off so when you uncork the wine, there is nothing there but a clear bottle. It reminded us of Metallica's black album. The vines were only planted in 2003 but it already is producing quality wines in demand at high end restaurants and hotels.
We then sat down to lunch in the courtyard. Surrounded by the Roman pillars that were shipped to Spain piece by piece in the 1940's. We felt as if we were sitting on the set of a romantic movie. Which is fitting considering in 1946, these pilars were en route to Hollywood to be used there for a feature film! We felt like royalty sitting under the Spanish sun enjoying a lazy afternoon.
We dined for hours as only the Spanish can do. Course after course of fine food came our way and our glasses of wine were never empty. It was relaxed and the conversation was light. We worried that we'd have nothing in common with a member of the elite side of life, but as it turns out, Estate owner Kurt has driven a car from Beijing to Paris (As we have driven from England to Mongolia) and spent time in Africa driving overland a la our experience in the Tour d'Afrique. He loves adventure travel and his eyes lit up as he talked of his adventures around the world.
It was a few minutes later that he disappeared with Dave from TBEX and came back roaring through the grounds in a very nice custom built car. We found out that Kurt has 60 cars in total and 30 motorcycles. Now this guy likes to move! They drove over the manicured grass with grins on their faces like a couple of teenagers and when Kurt stopped the car to pose for photographs, you could see the pride he took in one of his favourites from his collection.
Back to Wine
We thought this was the end of the afternoon, but we were wrong. Since we had already tasted the wine, it was time to see where it was produced. So we sped off down the road to visit his Bodega.
It was the coolest wine cellar I've ever seen and as Rick's wife Angie said, “We're entering the bat cave” We walked through metal doors made from recycled hulls from old ships in Bangladesh to view his barrels of wine. It was an underground maze that reminded me of a bunker from WWII. The temperature is controlled by the design of metal and rocks keeping it at a constant state perfect for wine fermentation.
It was here that we said our goodbyes, and as we drove back to Girona we wondered where to next for Kurt and his wife. As the ultra rich, they could go anywhere in the world, but today, they spent their time with us and we like it.