La Cité du Vin, the long awaited museum-theme park and architectural wonder, opened its doors Wednesday, June 1, 2016. A stunning addition to Bordeaux’s landscape, The City of Wine is also a place to eat, taste, drink and buy great wine from all over the world.
Ten years in the making at a cost of $103 million, La Cité du Vin is one of the wine world’s most ambitious projects designed to encapsulate the history and magic of wine. Even though it’s in Bordeaux, France, according to CEO Philippe Massol, it’s “a place for the whole world of wine.”
Designed by Paris architects Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières, the shape of the building mirrors how wine looks when it’s poured into a glass. Glistening in gold and silver metal plates at eight stories high, it’s the tallest building in the city center of Bordeaux. The heart of the building is a permanent 32,000-square-foot high-tech installation by British designers Dinah Casson and Roger Mann.
Inside, visitors go on a on a tactile and virtual tour of wine culture, historically and today, including interactive portions for children. Materials are presented in French, English, German and Spanish. There’s also a theater, Jefferson Auditorium which will house screenings, presentations and music concerts. It was funded by American Friends of the Cité du Vin, backed by Robert Wilmers, New York philanthropist and owner of Château Haut-Bailly in Bordeaux, and George Sape, former grand master of the Commanderie of Bordeaux in New York.
Beyond the delicious menu at Le 7 restaurant—lead by chef Nicolas Lascombes, of La Terrasse Rouge in Saint-Émilion—it has an outstanding platform that provides a 360-degree view of the river and the city’s waterfront. At the bistro and wine shop on the ground floor, visitors can buy 800 wines from 70 countries. “We want young people, old people, people who know a lot about wine and people who just want to enjoy the building and the view,” said Massol.
Massol projects that 400,000 will visit La Cité du Vin over the next year, with 80 percent coming from outside Bordeaux. But will it succeed where other wine centers and museums have failed?
“We will judge our success if they drink a glass of wine with more understanding and respect than before,” said Massol.
Exhibit admission is €20. Workshops, tutored tastings and vineyard tours start in July.