Traditionalism meets trendy in Bordeaux’s first U.S.-style wine tourism complex, La Winery, which opened in March.
The contemporary steel-and-glass complex rises up dramatically out of the ground on a 64-acre parcel in the Médoc, 30 minutes northwest of the city of Bordeaux. Owner Philippe Raoux, local wine merchant, owner of Château d’Arsac, and contemporary art collector, built the sleek, futuristic buildings to stand in stark contrast to the centuries-old chateaus and villages that dot the Bordeaux wine region.
“The wine tourism idea and the modern design have been welcomed by the surrounding Bordeaux wine community,” says Rauox. “La Winery is working in partnership with many chateaus in the Médoc area.”
Among the 40,000 bottles available for tasting and purchase (ranging from $4 to $1,300), are wines from 20 countries, with 90% of the stock French. There are also high-quality whiskies, Cognac, rum, eaux de vie and other liquors offered for sale.
Visitors to the complex, which features colorful modular furniture, concrete floors and exposed pipes, can participate in various tastings, including “amateur,” “connoisseur,” and custom tastings tailored to individual interests. A highlight is the “wine sign” interactive tasting ($20; $33 for grand crus), in which individuals answer a series of questions about their preferences and are given a label—ranging from “trendy” to “musclebound” to aid them in their future wine choices.
As they approach the main building, tourists are greeted by an outsized sculpture, the “Sun Tree,” by Susumu Shingu. In addition to a permanent art collection, the complex will host an annual exhibition of the work of a major contemporary artist.
La Winery includes a state-of-the-art conference room, small theatre with a concert grand piano, amphitheater, two tasting bars and a fine-dining restaurant that offers wine and food pairings. Picnic lunches and landscaped grounds will be added by June. Admission is free, with tastings starting at $9. www.lawinery.fr.