Antoine Lorgnier - Photographs

Gironde, the architect’s cellars

Supported by a city of Bordeaux in full renaissance and its incredible Cité du Vin, produced by the architects Anouk Legendre and Xavier Desmazieres, the surrounding vineyards compete in architectural daring by having futuristic cellars built by the most wellknown architects such as Christian de Portzamparc, Philippe Starck, Jean Nouvel , Jean-Michel Wilmotte or Norman Foster.

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Bordeaux wines have long lived on their reputation, sometimes at the risk of losing their quality. In the years 1980-1990, Bordeaux wines suffered from this weakness and their ribs collapsed. A bad for a good. It was the time when the great castles were bought by discerning amateurs who awaken these “sleeping beauties”. Improving quality involves renewing the vines and improving the production tool. The wine is now on display in contemporary settings. Through this journey in Bordeaux, between Saint-Emilion, Bordeaux, Pauillac and Margaux, it is therefore a new philosophy of wine, which concerns architecture, art of living, wine culture, history and economics challenges, which is displayed thanks to a new generation of owners, industrialists or businessmen, who wants to uncomplicate wine and make it a means of communication.

The Château Marquis d’Alesme, in Margaux, has just inaugurated its new winery, entirely renovated by the architect Fabien Pédelaborde. In the Médoc, the castles are engaged in a real competition through their cellars, always more design! From Ricardo Bofill (Château Lafite-Rostchild) to Norman Foster (Château Margaux), passing by Jean-Michel Wilmotte (Château Pedesclaux and Château du Cos d’Estournel), Paul Nairac & Gérard Vacheyrout (Château Talbot), Fabien Pédelaborde (Château Marquis d’Alesme) and soon Chien Chung Pei in Cordeillan-Bages, the contemporary cellars are new windows seeking to dust off the image of wine. The container has become more important than the content and that these new cellars, true figures of prowess of the great domains, create more the event than the wines which they shelter! 

But hose cellars are not a simple promotional shell. All incorporate cutting-edge technology (gravity chai …), respect for the environment (High Environmental Quality certification …) while having the same production requirement and continuity with the history of the place. With the Médoc, Saint-Emilion is the vineyard with the most architectural cellars signed Mario Botta (Château Faugères), Christian de Portzampac (Château Cheval Blanc), Jean Nouvel (Château La Dominique) or Alberto Pinto ( Château Pavie).

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