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Friday, June 3, 2016

The Guggenheim of Wine

                                     Bordeaux's renaissance masterpiece, La Cité  du Vin

It’s impossible not to be impressed with this nearly 20 story architectural wonder of art that opened only a few days ago.  Although not designed by the Guggenheim's Frank Gehry, the grand master of pushing-the-21st-century-architectural-envelope, he must surely be in awe of La Cité du Vin.   The “City of Wine” is a provocative edifice of bold curving glass and dramatic undulating metal. 

With a price tag of $81 million US, “awesome” is the very least one could expect of the world’s finest wine museum.   La Cité offers a cornucopia of compelling multi-sensory exhibits that tell the 9,000 year old story of wine, showcasing 10 different countries.  The tour ends with a wine tasting on the 8th floor viewing platform.

Americans will be happy to know that Bordeaux lovers from their country played a big role in sponsoring the Thomas Jefferson Auditorium.  Considered the centerpiece of this iconic building, the auditorium was built by concerted philanthropic efforts of some of the most serious oenophiles in the US.   Many of the funds raised included auctions of some extraordinary Bordeaux, like a 1945 Lafite-Rothschild.  

There are several venues for wining and dining at La Cité du Vin.  On the ground floor is Latitude 20, a wine bar offering tapas and 50 wines by the glass.  Latitude is also a wine shop offering 14,000 bottles from >80 countries.  The 7th floor restaurant, aptly named “Le 7,” serves up panoramic views and an international menu.  If you’re wanting a more casual venue, the museum also has a café dubbed Le Snack.  All of them are open daily with Latitude and Le 7 serving both lunch and dinner.  Le Snack serves nonstop. 

The cost for entrance to the permanent exhibition of La Cité is about $25 (there are also temporary exhibits that require an extra $10).  Plan to arrive by river shuttle or by Bordeaux’s slick new tram system.   An advance ticket purchase via the museum’s website is strongly recommended if you’re visiting this year.

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