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Life

City of Wine

Escape to the heart of Bordeaux, where the magnificent Cité du Vin carries you away on a multi-sensory adventure.

Dubbed a 'Disneyland for adults', France's Cité du Vin - recently opened in Bordeaux - is dedicated to the history of wine. But instead of tea cups and roller coasters, at this wine 'theme park' you'll get your thrills from wine glasses and drink coasters. Costing a budget-busting 81 million Euros ($AUD 116 million) and taking more than two decades to become reality, the multi-storey Cité du Vin is a truly impressive temple to viticulture.

The building itself (designed by Anouk Legendre and Nicolas Desmazières from the Parisian agency XTU) is an architectural triumph. Featuring thousands of glass and metallic glazed panels, the imposing aluminium structure is all shimmering curves. Evoking the swirl of wine moving in a glass, its sculptural form also reflects the undulating Garonne river, which the building overlooks from the city's left bank.

This mecca for wine-lovers is not just aimed at connoisseurs; the Cité du Vin hopes to make the vinous tipple accessible to everyone via a playful, hands-on journey of discovery. It claims to be the world's largest wine museum, offering visitors an immersive experience through the world's wine culture and its universal heritage.

"I don't like to call it a museum," says Sylvie Cazes, president of the Foundation for the Culture and Civilisations of Wine, "because the word suggests a bunch of dusty collections. This is completely interactive and unlike anything seen before."

That goes for its wine collection too, which doesn't limit itself to the Grands Crus of Bordeaux.

"When the project started some 20 years ago, there was a Bordeaux focus," says Sylvie, "but over time it evolved to include wines from everywhere." The ground floor wine boutique houses more than 14,000 bottles of 800 different wines from some 80 countries. There are even drops from unlikely destinations such as Ethiopia, Indonesia and Tahiti.
If you're not ready to splurge on a bottle, some wines can be tasted (for a corkage fee) at the bar.

 

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However, it's on the upper floors of the Cité du Vin where the real fun starts. Go beyond a wine's taste to discover other aspects of its character during one of the workshop sessions. These take place in sleek, multi-sensory spaces featuring 360 degree projections, sounds and a scent diffusion system. 
Far from being straight-up wine-tasting classes, the experience is casual and convivial. "They're focused on the spirit of sharing, as everyone has a different relationship with wine", says Sylvie.

Meanwhile, in a bid to keep the local clientele coming back, the Cité du Vin shows temporary exhibitions in the Salle des Colonnes, and all year long, the 250-seater Thomas Jefferson auditorium plays host to concerts, film screenings and debates.

 

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The headline visitor attraction is the permanent exhibition, where the interactive multimedia experience is a real feast for the senses and a glorious celebration of every facet of wine.

With 19 themed sections, the Cité du Vin has all bases covered, from the lands that produce the grapey goodness, and winegrowers around the world, to wine's influence on thousands of years of society, and its connection to the arts. Each display is fascinating, thanks to the clever use of 3D imagery, aroma diffusion, or video game technology. Not forgetting punters not yet old enough to enjoy wine; the Cité du Vin reaches out to younger visitors with fun, age-appropriate displays.

The museum's highlights range from giant video screens looping mesmerising vistas of the world's winemaking regions, and the 'getting to know you' feature with (virtual) winegrowers from all corners of the globe, to the 'meet the experts' panel where you can seek one-on-one advice from wine professionals (again, in virtual form). Whether you listen to a Michelin-starred chef or a respected sommelier, their answers on how to buy wine, how to serve wine, and whether wine awards mean anything, may surprise you.

Refuelling takes place on the 7th floor where Le 7 restaurant offers sweeping views over the Garonne and the Port de la Lune. Chef Nicolas Lascombes rustles up his brand of world cuisine with a French twist using seasonal and regional produce. Wash it all down with your choice of 500 wines from 50 countries.

Indeed, la pièce de résistance is the Belvédère, the rooftop wine bar, which boasts a stunning panorama of Bordeaux. This is where you wrap up your visit (only those who have paid museum entry fees can access it) while sipping on a glass of wine included in the ticket price. Soak up the views from the 10 metre-long oak bar, or gape at the 4,000 glass bottles suspended from the ceiling. Tasters can choose from a regularly rotating selection of five Bordeaux wines and 15 from around the world.

As to why the Cité du Vin would open its doors in Bordeaux, it couldn't have happened anywhere else, says Sylvie. "It's a big city with the most famous wine-producing region in the world, and the biggest producer of AOC wine."

The founder of the Cité du Vin, Alain Juppé, who is also the mayor of Bordeaux (and a 2017 French Presidential hopeful) has called the museum his 'Guggenheim'. An ambitious claim, but it's certainly gone some way to cementing the World Heritage listed city's status as the unrivalled world capital of wine.

 

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Take the wine theme all the way with a luxurious stay at Les Sources de Caudalie, an intimate, five-star boutique hotel nestled in Bordeaux wine country.

Indulge your tastebuds at one of three on site restaurants, including the magnificent Michelin-starred La Grand' Vigne.

Take a guided tour of the Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte , just steps from the hotel, or borrow a bike for a leisurely ride through the sun-dappled vineyards. The cherry (or grape) on top is the spa offering exclusive vinotherapy wine-based treatments.

Book at sources-caudalie.com , rooms from 240 Euros.

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Life
The Epicurean Maturation of Porto
Words by Emily McAuliffe on 19 Oct 2017
Porto may be the lesser known of Portugal’s cities, but it’s becoming a star on the food and wine scene. Porto, which takes its name from northern Portugal’s economy-driving seaport, was traditionally regarded as little more than an industrial workhorse. As Lisbon’s blue-collar cousin, it lacked the cultural clout of the capital, and this was only intensified by a king hit during the global financial crisis that left streets bare and spirits low. But Porto isn’t a city to easily falter and its historical tenacity earned it the nickname Invicta, or ‘undefeated’. Whereas it once resisted monarchists, it is now resisting cultural demise, and has bounced back to attain this year’s title of Best European Destination (an honour it has held twice before). In tandem with this surge of social energy is a lifting of the city’s gastronomic scene. In 2017, Porto and its cross-river city Vila Nova de Gaia were awarded three new Michelin stars, bringing the tally up to five. Despite this epicurean maturation, however, one of the most appealing things about Porto is that residents – including the city’s top chefs – still maintain strong food traditions.  “I think we should fight to keep our traditions,” says Pedro Lemos , who in 2015 became Porto’s first chef to reach Michelin status, and now retains his star for a third year. “When you travel, you want to visit the monuments and experience the history, including through the gastronomy, so I’m not afraid to show our roots,” he says of his exclusively Portuguese menu. Therefore, while the culinary diversity of other Western European cities might fool you into thinking you were in any number of countries, Porto has a way of always reminding you you’re in Portugal. And that strong sense of place provides precious insight into the city and country’s identity. Simple fare
The people of Porto are known to eat every part of the pig bar the squeal and are hence dubbed tripeiros or ‘tripe eaters’. Although a reference to ‘poor man’s food’, the locals wear the label with pride and the dish Tripas à Moda do Porto is still widely available on menus across the city in line with a 600-year-old recipe. In the culinary archives, it sits alongside dishes such as the Francesinha, a greasy multi-decker meat sandwich blanketed in cheese, and dried codfish Bacalhau à Gomes de Sá, which are prime examples of Porto’s penchant for simple soul food. “The food in Portugal has history, it’s an important part of our story and culture; it’s our grandmother’s food,” says Rui Paula, who attained his first Michelin star at Casa de Chá da Boa Nova this year. Hence, he and other high-level chefs still frequent local-run tascas, where the prato do dia (plate of the day) is commonly seen scribbled on paper in restaurant windows. In these establishments, dining out remains a boisterous affair where family recipes are served and devoured with contentment and pride, and it’s an endearing example of the Portuguese saying, ‘there is always room at the table for one more’. Raising the bar
Porto’s old-style comfort food is still evident at every turn, but a sign of gastronomical progression came in 2011 when The Yeatman Hotel ’s restaurant, located in Porto’s neighbouring city of Vila Nova de Gaia, was awarded a Michelin star under the leadership of Ricardo Costa, who proved his salt with a second star in 2017. In addition to this formidable two star feat, Porto’s smaller players are offering stiff competition in the culinary stakes, with the quaint destination restaurants of Lemos, Paula and Vítor Matos of Antiqvvm part of the star spangled club. “We used to say ‘we’re lost in Foz’,” says Lemos of his restaurant’s obscure location down a cobbled backstreet in Porto’s fringe suburb of Foz. But a steady stream of locals, followed by travellers, started sniffing out his food creations. “At first people said I was crazy,” says Lemos. “But I wanted my restaurant to grow from its value, and now, the fact it’s a street restaurant makes me even more proud. People don’t stop at the restaurant because they pass it on the street, they come here specifically for us.” Paula, one of the three judges of MasterChef Portugal, is equally chuffed. “It can be difficult to get a Michelin star outside a hotel, so I’m very proud to have achieved it here,” he says from his 30-seat restaurant hidden amongst the sea rocks in Porto’s coastal outskirts. “More and more tourists are coming to Porto and it’s pushing for better dining options,” he continues, referencing the city’s growing number of refined restaurants. Regional influence
Some of Portugal’s best produce is found in the north, so Porto’s restaurateurs can easily tap into quality supplies. Renowned Portuguese food and wine critic José Silva, whose accolades include television presenter, guidebook writer and columnist, cites the smoked meats of Trás-os-Montes as the best in the country, for instance, and Paula, Lemos and Silva all credit the cold vegetation-rich waters of the North Atlantic for producing second-to-none seafood. Though top-notch produce is readily available, local chefs aren’t wedded to northern produce, preferring to draw on regional strengths. “I’ll use local where I can, but I’m not fundamentalist,” say Lemos. “Besides, Portugal is a small country, so really, everything is local.” Costa agrees, saying he prioritises regional products where possible, but also scours the country to find Portugal’s best, such as seaweed from the Algarve region and cheese from the Alentejo.  A fine drop While port has long been a household name, Portugal’s table wines are starting to break international barriers as people discover the 14 principal wine regions, including Porto’s nearby Douro Valley. “In the next few years I think places like the Douro will be one of the 3–4 most important regions in the world for both port and still wines,” says Silva. Francisca Lobão from Porto’s beautiful chapel-turned-wine bar Capela Incomum agrees. “People already have worldwide references of Italian and French wines, for example, and Portugal is on that path,” she says.  Confidence in Portugal’s table wines also led husband and wife team Filipa Garcia Fernandes and Moisés Cardoso Campos to keep the focus away from port wine at their riverside bar, Wine Quay . The gamble paid off, as they have since expanded to include the Quay Market next door for patrons wishing to purchase wines offered at the bar. “People are starting to take Porto more seriously when it comes to food and wine,” says Fernandes. “We have good food, good wine and nice people, and I’m not just saying that because I’m Portuguese,” she laughs. “Oh, and of course, Porto is a beautiful city,” she gushes with true tripeira pride. And, really, what more could you want?
Life
Explore South African Wine Country
South Africa is one of the hottest travel destinations on earth – discover its allure with Luxury Wine Trails Did you know the origins of South Africa’s Cape Town & Cape Winelands date back to the 17th century? No? Well you’re not alone, as it remains an undiscovered gem for many. A melting-pot of vibrant cultures blended with world-class wine and food, the region offers breath-taking scenery, luxurious hotels, amazing golf courses, warm weather and welcoming locals. That’s what drew Sydney-sider Michael Nash to the region over 10 years ago. With each trip, his eyes opened to the unique potential of creating hand-crafted and immersive journeys for adventurers seeking true ‘bucket-list’ experiences, combining outstanding vineyards, wine, food and luxury accommodation, with spectacular scenery, local art, culture, architecture, flora and fauna. And so Luxury Wine Trails was born! TRAVEL WITHOUT COMPROMISE
From the moment you arrive, everything is included with Luxury Wine Trails. 5-star hotels in the city and vines, fine dining, premium paired wines, exclusive vineyard tastings, expert local guides, luxury transport and more. You’ll explore the stunning Cape coast, heritage listed wild-flower kingdom and world famous Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens. On your rest day, enjoy golf at a championship course in the vines or a stunning spa treatment. EXPERIENCES MONEY CAN’T BUY
What sets Luxury Wine Trails even further apart is the unprecedented access to people and places you simply can’t book. In intimate groups of just 20, enjoy exclusive masterclasses with South Africa’s leading wine writer and show judge, Michael Fridjhon, and the country’s most celebrated food + wine author, Katinka van Niekerk. Enjoy an invitation-only dinner with four of the region’s leading winemakers at a spectacular vineyard, a masterclass with Riedel, chats with your executive chefs,  and high tea at the historic Belmond Mount Nelson hotel in Cape Town. If you’re keen to explore South Africa’s wine regions, enjoy sumptuous food and experience an amazing culture, this is the tour for you. You can even add a 3 or 4 day luxury safari pre/post tour! + Special offer for Wine Selectors Members and Selector readers With dates departing Cape Town in Jan, Feb, April and May 2018, book now and quote #LWT.Selector to save $AUD1600 per couple! Plus, receive six premium South African wines valued at over $250 (limited to one pack per booking), when you book a 1st half 2018 tour by Dec 15, 2017. Visit luxurywinetrails.com.au or  call 1 800 087 245 for more details.
Two Blues Sauvignon Blanc 2014
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