NEW YORK - For the next in our series of Sotheby’s Wine interviews, I spoke with John Kolasa, the driving force behind the renaissance of both Chateau Rauzan-Ségla and Chateau Canon, having undertaken extensive renovations at both properties and brought them back to their former glory. He was born in Scotland in 1949, but has lived in Bordeaux for the last forty years. After a time as a teacher, he entered the wine trade in his early twenties and worked his way up to become Commercial Director for Chateau Latour, which was then under the British ownership of the Pearson Group, followed by Allied Lyons. In 1994, he was asked by Chanel to oversee restoring Rauzan-Ségla to its former level. Two years later, Chanel bought Chateau Canon, the top (but then neglected) St. Emilion property, and John added the challenge of renovating this great estate to his responsibilities.
Where were you born?
Dumbarton, Scotland – remains a dream!
What was your best memory growing up?
Arriving in France at the age of 8, going to school.
Where/what did you study?
Keele University, near Wales, became a teacher of French and Graphic Design.
Any formal wine training?
Totally informal, with wonderful, generous people.
Who was your mentor?
Hugh Johnson and Jean-Paul Gardère (who made 25 vintages at Latour).
What are your views on agriculture: Sustainable? Organic? Biodynamic?
A little bit of everything, my motto is respect of nature for the future.
Outside wine, what is your passion?
What's your guilty secret?
A glass of malt Whisky three times a week.
What "addiction" would you most like to give up?
What are you craving right now?
Sushi, oysters...some freshness.
Diet or eat everything?
Everything, except tripe, and never without a glass of wine!
What are you reading now?
Wine and War, The French, The Nazis, and the Battle for France's Greatest Treasure, by Don & Petie Kladstrup.
Favorite place to vacation?
Islands, in the sea.
Favorite local hotel?
Le Richelieu, on Île de Ré.
Favorite hotel in the world?
Favorite local restaurant?
La Corniche, Arcachon, the view is magical.
Favorite wine/vintage from your winery?
2005, for Château Rauzan-Ségla and Château Canon, nature did it all.
Favorite wine/vintage, that is not yours?
Favorite shop to buy clothes?
Whenever I am in the States, I can't pass up a bit of browsing at Brooks Brothers.
Love my English wellies!
If you can choose your perfect last supper before leaving this world, what would it be, who would it be with and what would you drink with it?
With my wife and Children, Rougets à la moef