Le Cité du Vin (translated as City of Wine) opened in Bordeaux to rave reviews in June, opening ceremonies were inaugurated by the the French President Francois Hollande, and Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay. This highly anticipated City of Wine is a theme park for wine lovers, and what more appropriate place for a wine museum than the most prestigious wine capital of the world, Bordeaux France. La Cité du Vin was 10 years in the making and cost $90 million. It is a unique one of kind museum or as some would say, a theme park devoted entirely to wine culture.
I had the wonderful opportunity to visit Le Cité du Vin during its opening week on my recent trip to Bordeaux. Having been to many wine museums around the globe I had very limited expectations: wine museum can be very serious, stuffy, and sometimes dull and boring. I was expecting to see antique barrels, old wine presses and discarded machinery. Well this was not the case, I was stunned when I saw, felt, heard, touched, smelled and tasted everything related to wine, a true oenophiles dream. The museum brings state of the art technology to give you an immersive multi-sensory experience into the wine world.
The building is designed by French architects, Anouck Legendre and Nicholas Desmaziéres, who have created a visual master piece. Many have compared the structure to the Guggenheim in Balboa. The building is curvaceous and fluid, meant to resemble a wine swirling in a glass, but to me it resembles a large sensual wine decanter. The building is designed with beautiful reflective glass and iridescent aluminum panels that shimmer in the sunlight. The structure is illuminated at nights to give a wonderful modern glow to the landscape of this rich historical city of Bordeaux, cited by UNESCO as a world heritage center.
The museum boast a permanent collection as well a guest exhibits, such as a special exhibit on Georgian Wines in 2017. There is a digital guide to help you explore all areas of the museum, and do not worry if your french is rusty, the audio devices translate into 8 different languages. There are 20 themed exhibits, an auditorium, classroom style tasting rooms, a wine bar, several cafes, a restaurant with panoramic views, a wine boutique(selling 800 wines from 70 different countries) and shops. There are floor to ceiling theater style films immersing you into the wine countries around the globe, there are interactive stations with interviews of wine growers and producers.
Take as long as you like to drift through all the unbelievably interactive stations. Fly over and around 20 wine making regions with their floor to ceiling films, filmed in a helicopter. Stop by the terroir table and meet the wine makers in a virtual reality type simulation, hear the wine makers share their passion about their wines. Awaken your senses at the aroma stations, a great way to enhance your wine tasting abilities. Personally I loved the dinner table and the area on our relationship with wine. End with a sky high wine tasting, on the top most 8th floor at The Belvedere, where you can taste wine from around the globe.
The €20 admission lets you explore the center for the entire day and also includes a glass of wine at the Belvedere Wine Bar. La Cité du Vin is a must see in Bordeaux for wine enthusiast and for the novices. Do not go by what the tour guides and museum recommend, they say give yourself two hours, but for me a whole day would not have been enough.