La Cité du Vin, a 10-floor, €81m project located on the banks of the River Garonne in Bordeaux – which has taken three years to complete and has already been dubbed the “Guggenheim of wine” – is due to be officially opened on June 1 by French President François Hollande. And booking (entry fee from €20) opens this month.
“Sydney has the Opera House, Paris the Eiffel Tower, but until now Bordeaux has lacked an iconic identity,” says Philippe Massol, director general of the Foundation for Wine Culture and Civilisations. The new building, designed by architects Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières, of French architecture firm XTU, in collaboration with British interior design agency Casson Mann, is clad in a robe of shimmering gold – a patchwork of printed glass panels and perforated, iridescent lacquered aluminium panels. But the attraction is certainly not just surface deep. “La Cité du Vin will host contemporary exhibitions, performances, conferences and wine-tasting workshops that will take wine lovers to the heart of the cultures and civilisations of 5,500 years of wine,” continues Massol.
Three tasting laboratories will offer workshops for adults, with educational spaces running sessions specially designed for younger visitors. The Introductory Lounge will cover the fundamental principles of wine tasting, The Connoisseurs’ Lounge plans more advanced workshops on topics such as blending, food-wine pairings and tasting prestigious wines. And the third laboratory will be an interactive, multisensory space, the first of its kind, immersing visitors in a 360-degree barrage of light, sound and aromas for a multidimensional tasting experience.
The complex also features a 250-seat auditorium, three restaurants, a wine bar, boutique and enoteca (wine shop). The panoramic seventh-floor Restaurant, “Le 7”, will showcase local and regional products selected by restaurant director Nicolas Lascombes, matched with wines from 50 different countries, with 500 bottles on the list.
The focus of the Latitude20 wine bar will be on wine pairings, with a choice of 800 bottles from 80 countries (including Bali, India, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Brazil and Tahiti) – carefully selected by Bordeaux wine merchant Régis Deltil and his tasting team, together with Andreas Larsson (World’s Best Sommelier 2007) and world-famous oenologist Michel Rolland, owner of several Bordeaux properties including Château Rolland-Maillet, Saint-Émilion.
Bookings can also be made to discover Bordeaux chateaux and vineyards using the riverboat services departing from the new state-of-the-art jetty in front of La Cité du Vin, helicopter or bus.