A good wine should be delicately swirled in the glass, letting it trace elegant waves on the sides. It is this perfect symmetry that inspired the design of the wonderful new building that houses the Cité du Vin, in Bordeaux, a temple dedicated to the nectar of the grapes and to the heady pleasures of this ancestral elixir.
Somewhere between a museum and a theme park, La Cité du Vin wants visitors to lose themselves to the aroma and poetry of wine: to learn more about its history and to savour it in the present. And to converse with the best sommeliers in the world (by means of virtual reality techniques) while gently cradling a glass of wine.
The unusual building, by architects Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières, on the banks of the Garonne River, opened in June of 2016. Its peculiar shape is meant to represent the movement of both wine inside a glass and the water in the river. Its aluminium façade is a brilliant structure that changes colour with the movement of the sun. It took three years to build but received more than 200,000 visitors in it first five months.
Its curved soul is also reflected in the interior of the building, which folds over itself, revealing 14,000 square meters of surface. Some 3,000 of them are for the permanent exhibit, a voyage through the history of the different winegrowing regions, in addition to an explanation of how wines are made. All this is presented through technology that broadens and improves the visitor’s experience: interactive videos, 3-D… Throughout there are tablets that permit visitors to consult additional information, a notable departure from the typical audio guides to museums.
La Cité du Vin also has temporary exhibits, a shop, a reading room… And the museum’s ‘grand reserve’: Le Belvédère, a panoramic observation point on the top floor (35 metres high) in which to sample wines from all over the world while enjoying marvellous 360-degree views of Garonne and the vineyards of Bordeaux. The roof is also decorated with a gigantic lamp consisting of thousands of bottles, while the bar is the ideal place for conversing and enjoying all the subtleties of a good wine.
The city of Bordeaux is known as the world’s wine capital for its long tradition of cultivation and production of this delicious liquid. That designation is now stronger than ever thanks to La Cité du Vin, which presumes to be the only cultural centre in the world dedicated to wine. To date, there’s been no competitor.