There’s still time to hop a plane to make the opening of Bordeaux’s brand new Cité du Vin wine museum. The opening ceremonies for the $80-million-plus project—to be attended by French President François Hollande, Minister of Culture Audrey Azoulay and Bordeaux Mayor Alain Juppe, I was told—are taking place on the 31st. And even if you miss the opening, the Cité opens to the public at large on June 2.
But what is a Cité du Vin? That was what I wanted to know, so I recently took a behind-the-scenes, pre-opening tour with the museum’s president, Sylvie Cazes. I was prepared to be disappointed, as pretty much every wine museum I’ve ever been to has been a snooze or worse: dusty old presses, historic pictures of grape harvests, plaques with dispiriting or mind-numbingly technical text. Instead, I was pretty much blown away by how cool it was.
- Wine Ice Cream Is Coming, and It Contains Plenty of Alcohol
- What's the Best Wine for Indian Food?
- Presenting Firstleaf for Wine Lovers!
The first thing you notice about the Cité is the building itself; the architecture is inarguably striking. The fluid, shimmering building, intended to look like wine swirling in a glass (though some people feel it instead resembles a giant glass shoe), rises above a former no-man’s-land of warehouses, now rapidly gentrifying, in the south part of the city. Clad in 900 reflective glass panels and 2,500 gold-hued, lacquered aluminum panels, supported inside by 128 huge wooden spines, the structure stands in stark contrast to much of the city’s 18th century neoclassical architecture.