a visit to france’s Cité du Vin – the world’s foremost wine museum
There is only one city in the world where it could exist: a colossal, sinuous shrine of glass and aluminium exclusively dedicated to the art and appreciation of wine. With its enduring financial might and proximity to some of the world’s most revered vineyards, that city, is, of course, Bordeaux.
Bordeaux’s new wine museum, aptly named La Cité du Vin, is something of a city within a city. Going beyond the traditional sense of a museum, it's simultaneously an immersive learning space and architectural showpiece.
According to XTU Architects Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières, 'This building does not resemble any recognisable shape because it is an evocation of the soul of wine between the river and the city.' The explanation helps somewhat in making sense of the familiar, yet difficult-to-define figures – with elements inspired by gnarled vine stock, the swells of the parallel Garonne river and wine swirling in a glass, it’s a modern, Gehry-esque design that defies strict logic.
The museum’s interior echoes the soft flow of the exterior, with the permanent exhibit designed to whirl visitors along on an interactive journey through different aspects of wine. After collecting a headset and remote, guests are free to explore the multimedia-rich journey through wine at their leisure.
Beginning with a multi-screen video projection of breathtaking aerial footage of the world’s most renowned wine regions (our own Cape Winelands included), the visit is divided into stations respectively dedicated to steps in wine production as well as wine’s role in culture, science, history and cuisine. At one station visitors can ‘meet’ winemakers from around the world through interactive videos. At another, they can smell common wine aromas and try their hands at guessing the descriptors (leather glove in an aged Syrah, anyone?).
Bien sûr, the visit wouldn’t be complete without indulging the most important of the senses linked to wine: taste. The museum’s piéce de résistance is arguably the viewing deck, where visitors can choose from a diverse range of international wines and savour a glass, while taking in a panoramic view of the world’s wine capital.
For more information about La Cité du Vin visit laciteduvin.com.