Guggenheim of Grapes
After $90 million and nearly a decade, Bordeaux’s La Cité du Vin—part theme park, part wine museum—is finally uncorked. IT’S DIONYSUS meets Disneyland. Where the Magic Kingdom has Epcot and Pirates of the Caribbean, the new La Cité du Vin (the City of Wine), which opened this month in the city of Bordeaux, has three restaurants, expert-led tastings and a 14,000-bottle cellar with regional vintages and others from as far away as Tahiti and Syria. There’s also a 50-seat barge that reenacts a 17th-century wine merchant’s journey to Japan.
As with fine wine, it took some time for La Cité du Vin to mature, and it carried a big price tag: The 143,000-square-foot structure required eight years and $90 million (28% over its original budget) to complete.
The result is a riverside architectural marvel—the building’s curves evoke wine swirling in a goblet—with its façade of 6,000 glass-and-metal panels reflecting the Garonne. A $23 ticket gets you access to attractions ranging from the philosophical (an exhibit on wine’s place in religion) to the peculiar (a chance to nap in the cellar). A visit concludes, fittingly, with a glass of Bordeaux or one from any of 20 other world wine regions.