From grape blends to growing methods to bottle storage, the world of wine-making is often mysterious and exclusive but when the extraordinary Cité du Vin opened in 2016 in Bordeaux, it revolutionised the wider sharing and understanding of wine culture, with its unique, futuristic building housing an immersive and innovative permanent exhibition guiding visitors through the world of wine.
With a mission to preserve and celebrate wine heritage, Cité du Vin has partnered with Sotheby's to offer an exciting and rare selection of hospitality experiences from some of the world's most prestigious vineyards and winemakers, with all proceeds from the sale going towards developing Cité du Vin’s 2020 cultural programme.
As well as being President of the Foundation for the Culture and Civilisations of Wine – Cité du Vin, Sylvie Cazes is also part of the renowned Cazes family, which has kindly donated one of the lots in the sale. Here, she remembers her early years growing up in the middle of illustrious vineyards and some of her favourite wine trips all over the globe.
What can someone learn by visiting a château in person to taste wine, rather than tasting in a normal bar or restaurant?
"You can understand the typicity of the terroir much better, and the spirit of the owner and winemaker in making such a wine; you discover what animates them and their personal story and passion for their property."
What has been one of your most memorable experiences of visiting a vineyard and getting to know the owners?
"I have many great experiences in visiting vineyards all around the world, but I was particularly impressed by the warm welcome of winegrowers in Napa Valley and in South Africa, especially in the Stellenbosch area."
What are some of your earliest memories of learning about and understanding wine?
"I was born in Pauillac and, of course, have grown up in the middle of the vineyards. My first memory was probably the atmosphere during the picking time – cutting some grapes for fun with my friends, and the wonderful meals we took with grape pickers around the traditional stews served at lunch time...and of course the smell in the vat cellar!"
The lot offered by the Cazes family includes the opportunity to create a personal wine - is this something you have experimented with, and what were the results?
"We do that every year in our cellars, tasting the different vats and then barrels in order to make the best selection for our final blending. And this is why we wanted to share that experience with the consumer, inviting them to share the excitement and fun of making their personal wine."
Why is Bordeaux the perfect place to be home to the Cité du Vin?
"Bordeaux city has been completely transformed in the past few years and now welcomes a great number of visitors. The city has always been open to people coming from different horizons and is now happy to be able to offer them the opportunity to experience the cultural heritage of the great vineyards of the world."
What is your ideal setting in which to sample your favourite wine, and what food would you choose to accompany it?
"The best experience depends on the combination of setting, wine, food and people who share this moment with you. It can be a very sophisticated moment or a simple experience with your best friends."
What are your best tips for enjoying good wine in the comfort of your own home? How do you get the best out of a special bottle?
"Just share it with the people you love and and select the food you think will complement the wine and time of the tasting."