In Bordeaux, France, a monolithic bottle cellar and a bold wine museum offer a different kind of wine tourism.
A beguiling structure on the 10-hectare estate of Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion in central Bordeaux defies all expectations of what a wine cellar should be. Inspired by the shape of a raw metal blade, Philippe Starck developed the striking form with local architect Luc Arsène-Henry, with the aim of avoiding reference to any identifiable scale, period or culture. The structure rises like an overturned yacht from a concrete-banked moat; its curved facade of stainless steel panels is intended to reflect the surrounding nature, if not disappear into the trees and vineyards entirely.
Accessed via footbridge, the interior comprises 2,000 square metres spread across two upper levels, a rooftop terrace, and a basement that holds 300 wooden barrels. Locating the cellar below the water-line was no mere gesture; the aquatic surroundings buffer against changes in temperature and help to maintain constant air quality for optimum aging. Above ground, flanked by a laboratory and a reception area, is the vat house, where wine is concocted in mammoth wood, steel and concrete drums. This double-height space is topped by a catwalk that leads to a tasting room, where aficionados can take in the view of the barrels below.
“We wanted to make this cellar an efficient tool,” says Arsène-Henry. “Technical expertise is a must, but architecture is an art: it must convey emotion.” Stripped of the usual signs of winemaking, the results speak to the spirited essence of the wine itself.
20 Rue des Carmes, les-carmes-haut-brion.com
By David Dick-Agnew
Southwestern France now has a central place to celebrate the cultural significance of its most famous export. La Cité du Vin, which opened in June in the heart of Bordeaux, is a swirling structure by Paris firm XTU Architects. Its bulbous form, clad in glass and iridescent aluminum, is meant to reference the movement of wine in a glass, but it also defines a cavernous interior of hallways, framed in glulam wood ribs. A circuitous path leads visitors through 19 permanent exhibits dedicated to the pleasure of wine. Directed by museum designers Casson Mann, this diverse tour includes historical documents and artifacts, as well as a simulated voyage on a centuries-old merchant trade ship. Metamorphosis of Wine (shown) features amorphous displays embedded with screens that reveal the scientific side of turning grapes into wine.
150-134 Quai de Bacalan, laciteduvin.com
By Kendra Jackson