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Margaux unveils new buildings

Château Margaux has officially opened its new winery buildings designed by Sir Norman Foster, in time for the estate’s bicentenary.

Photo credit: Nigel Young_Foster + Partners
Photo credit: Nigel Young_Foster + Partners

The cellars were opened at the 1855 grands crus classes de Médoc dinner on Sunday 14 June, attended by the international press, Foster himself and the mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Juppé.

The new chai is an extension of the eastern wing of the original cellar finished in 1815 and is described as a “highly flexible, open enclosure,” that includes a research and development centre, tasting room and offices.

As the architect’s notes describe: “The architecture reinterprets the region’s vernacular of tiled roof structures and harmonises with the Estate’s existing industrial buildings – the new winery

comprises a pitched roof at the same level, supported by tree-shaped load bearing columns and punctuated by light wells.”

The new building has allowed some reorganization in the rest of the winery, the cooperage has been relocated, the former vinothèque is a barrel room again, there is a new vinothèque which is now connected to the second year cellar, 70 metres long and away from areas known to flood, it is a safe, stable environment for wines to age in.

Various other smaller details have been seen to as well such as refurbishment of the orangerie and the creation of a new visitor centre which will double as an exhibition hall.

Margaux’s owner, Corinne Mentzelopoulos, said at the dinner: “Two hundred  years ago, the Marquis de la Colonilla made his mark on the Estate through the construction, in honour of the wine, of a great architectural legacy inspired by Ancient Greece.

“The architect Louis Combes designed the Château’s peristyle as a tribute to the Parthenon – my father felt so much pride and joy at the sight of these Ionic columns which reminded him of his beloved Greece.

“Over 160 years later, my father in turn took the necessary steps to reclaim, in barely three years, the prestige that Château Margaux had lost during the long crisis that had struck Bordeaux’s wines.

“Not a day goes by when I am not grateful to my father for giving me the privilege of sharing, for 35 years, a little bit of Château Margaux’s destiny.

“We are not in charge of Château Margaux, we are at its service. While we did have misgivings before daring to add a new building to this Historic Monument, Norman Foster was able to ease our doubts thanks to his talent of course, his understanding of the greatness of Margaux and his willingness to meet our technical and aesthetic challenges.

“The buildings that Norman Foster has designed meet the architectural demands of our past, while simultaneously allowing us to continue to pursue the excellence in our wine thanks to our technological innovation.

“We now have at our disposal, and will have for a long time to come, an architectural heritage which is worthy of the reputation and quality of our wine.”

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