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British Architect, Designer of The Gherkin, Chosen by Chateau Margaux to Modernise First Growth

Jane Anson has reported at Decanter.com that plans to build new cellars at First Growth Chateau Margaux have been granted planning permission and can now go ahead. The renowned British Architect Lord Norman Foster has designed the new cellars, creating an “underground bottle library for past vintages, and a new vinification cellar that will allow both the red and white wines to be made in the same part of the estate for the first time since the late 1970s”.

Lord Foster is considered by many to be the leading urban stylist of our age and his completed projects include The Gherkin, the new Wembley Stadium, Beijing Airport, the Millau Viaduct and the restored Reichstag and Millau Viaduct. He is certainly one of Britain’s most innovative and prolific architects, creating landmark structures across the globe. Chateau Margaux is not his first wine orientated project – he created the new Portia Winery for Grupo Faustino in Ribera del Duero in 2010.

The plans for Foster’s Chateau Margaux project have been in the pipeline for about 2 years but as Chateau Margaux is a listed building and national monument progress has taken some time. The new designs must be in keeping with the existing structure but we can expect to see an ultra-modern interior:

Nothing has been altered at Chateau Margaux since the original building was created in 1810 by Louis Combes, one of the most celebrated architects of his time,” director Paul Pontallier told Decanter.com. “To add something new is a serious undertaking, and we absolutely had to respect its importance by working with the most talented architect of our time.

“Outside, the building will be in complete harmoy with the 19th century chateau, but inside it will be resolutely modern.”

The new underground bottle library will be beneath the chateau’s central walkway, outbuildings will be converted into a public reception area and the car park and courtyard will be redesigned. The current cooperage will become a tasting room, with the barrel workshop itself moving across the courtyard, back to its original position in the 1800s. It seems greater importance is being placed on making Chateau Margaux more welcoming – allowing greater engagement with the public.

Works will be carried out by both Foster and Bordeaux architect Guy Tropres who has worked with a number of top Grand Cru Classé including Chateau La Mission Haut Brion and Vieux Chateau Certan.

Chateau Margaux is the latest chateau to embark on a revamp as Bordeaux has been having a bit of a building boom with new cellars and winery buildings being designed by celebrity architects. The boom is being driven by the popularity of wine tourism – 12 million visitors in 2010 – and especially by the desire to give international visibility and branding to Bordeaux’s great classified growths.

Chateau Clerc Milon has a brand new winery designed by the Bordeaux architect Bernard Mazières and the famous scenographer Richard Peduzzi, in the form of a temple faced with blond Medoc stone. Chateau Cheval Blanc’s new winery, called the “Winery under the Hill” was designed by Pritzker prize-winner Christian de Portzamparc and unveiled in June 2011. Chateau La Dominiques new cellar designed by Jean Nouvel (also a Pritzker prize-winner) is a futuristic vessel arising in the vineyards dressed in red reflecting metal plates and was completed this year. Le Pin has also revealed its new winery, designed by Belgian architect Paul Robbrecht, replacing the former building.

These new designs follow on from Chateau Faugeresnew cellar, dubbed “the Cathedral of Wine” designed by Mario Botta (who designed the Kyobo Tower, Seoul), the renovation of Chateau Soutard complete with subterranean wine cellars by Fabien Labarde and Château Cos d’Estournels new cellars, rumoured to have cost €35 million and designed by Jean-Michel Wilmotte (responsible for the Hiroshima Gates for Peace memorial along with Clara Halter).


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