It’s not the easiest collaborative idea to come up with, that’s a given. But, for a few minutes last month, just 100 hand-picked global influencers, The Edge Malaysia included, were invited by Louis XIII to attend a highly-secretive party held in Shanghai to lend their ears to a unique new track created exclusively for the luxury cognac maison by superstar Pharrell Williams. There was just one catch — it will not be heard again until a hundred years have passed, and that is only if we keep climate change in check.
How so, you may ask? The track in question, titled 100 Years, was recorded on a unique water-soluble clay disc that will be hidden away in a state-of- the-art but water-permeable Fichet-Bauche safe in Louis XIII’s cellars until 2117. Future generations may only get to hear the song’s public release if water levels do not rise too drastically as a result of global warming, thus flooding the cellars and destroying the disc forever. Speaking on this one-of-a-kind collaboration, Williams remarked: “It’s an artistic project that will disappear forever if global warming continues... It’s a call to action for people to care about the planet now before it’s too late.”
Security was exceedingly tight at the Shanghai listening party. All devices had to be surrendered at the door and kept under lock and key until the song had finished playing, ensuring 100 Years remains a secret for the next century. Environmental conditions permitting, of course.
The key lesson here would be the showcase of just how intertwined life is. The glamorous life of a music mogul in the US might seem a world away from, say, the artisans in Cognac, France, but the Pharrell-Louis XIII collaboration highlights how we really do just have the one planet to live on. The disc upon which 100 Years was recorded, in fact, is made from the chalky soil taken from the very lands in which the Grande Champagne grapes exclusively used for Louis XIII are cultivated.
“We are incredibly proud of this innovative project,” said Ludovic du Plessis, the global executive director for Louis XIII. “Nature and time are at the heart of what we do. If the environment is unstable, even the greatest cellar master would not be able to compose the exceptional blend that is Louis XIII. Global warming is one of the most important issues of the 21st century; with 100 Years, the song we will only hear if we care, we hope to inspire people around the world to take action.”
Echoing his sentiments, Williams added: “I love the fact that Louis XIII thinks a century ahead. We should all do the same for the planet. We have a common interest in preserving nature for the future. Each bottle is the life achievement of generations of men and women. It’s about legacy and transmission.” It would seem particularly apt then that the primary hashtag for the international (and decidedly star-studded) event was #ifwecare.
A statement released by Eric Vallat, the CEO of Remy Martin which owns Louis XIII, said: “We live by terroir, it’s what we’ve inherited and it is what our legacy must be. So we strongly believe in the message, in the idea of looking ahead with a piece of art that will only be released in a hundred years’ time.” Which, in the end, makes perfect sense. The most precious luxuries of life can sometimes take decades, centuries even, coupled with the talent of generations of craftsmen, to hone and perfect. Each precious decanter of Louis XIII contains the life’s work of no less than four generations of cellar masters, and it has been said that to drink Louis XIII is to savour the passage of time, but in the most wonderful and enduring way.
Yet, it is sobering indeed to remember that none of us living today will ever get to hear Pharrell Williams’ unique song, should the track even survive, to be, at last, played in 2117. But how selfish and terrible it would be if, owing to the results of apathy, greed and the inability to care for our own life-giving planet, that no one in the future can ever listen to 100 Years. The hashtag for the event might have been #ifwecare. But perhaps the main question to be asked now is this: Do we care enough?