Thursday, April 2, 2015

White sail in the Bordeaux region: Vineyard in Saint-Emilion

The history of the Château Cheval Blanc vineyard in Saint-Emilion near Bordeaux goes back to the 1830s. Distinguished as a premier grand cru classé A, the Bordeaux wines produced here enjoy worldwide fame. Since 1998, business partners Bernard Arnault and Baron Albert Frère have been running this venerable operation. In the Bordeaux region, imposing new buildings for wine cellars have been trendy for the past few years. Now Château Cheval Blanc has joined this movement with their new structure designed by Christian Portzamparc.

Architect: Christian Portzamparc, Paris
Location: 33330 Saint-Emilion, France
Vineyard in Saint-Emilion, France, by Christian Portzamparc
Photos: Erick Saillet, F–Lyon
The former wine cellar, which hails from the 19th century, currently serves as a living space and guesthouse. Wine production has been transferred to the new building and its 700 m² of usable space.
Vineyard in Saint-Emilion, France, by Christian Portzamparc
Model of historic and new building, rendering: Christian Portzamparc
The dynamically undulating building, whose curves are meant to recall the shape of a wine glass, looks like a white sail that has draped itself over the vineyards. While the structure appears to take flight from the longitudinal view, seen from the front it seems to meld with the ground. 
Vineyard in Saint-Emilion, France, by Christian Portzamparc

CONTENU03---200609-CHEVAL-BLANC_(c)Erick_Saillet_7192 No line here is superfluous: everything contributes to perfecting the winemaking process, and it shows: the geometry of the curved surfaces and their muted white molded concrete, the unique atmosphere that derives from the natural light descending earthwards inside the vat house, between the contours of the great concrete vats.


Along with the formal concept, the building has a functional one as well: the separate processing of the harvest according to vineyard. Every one of the 52 fermentation tanks is dedicated to one particular vignoble. The capacity depends on the size of each parcel of land.
Vineyard in Saint-Emilion, France, by Christian Portzamparc

CONTENU05---200609-CHEVAL-BLANC_(c)Erick_Saillet_6426Technology is treated as a necessity, not as an object of ostentation. There are 52 concerte vats with 9 different sizes corresponding to 47 plots. The walls of the barrel cellar use moucharaby to facilitate natural ventilation. The lighting is sober because it does not seek a decorative role.

Vineyard in Saint-Emilion, France, by Christian Portzamparc

CONTENU06---200609-CHEVAL BLANC(c)Max_Botton_3393
Between the inside and outside, the winery is a place of transmutation and human interaction with nature. This is where exceptional wine is made among extremely demanding instruments with exacting skills to match.
The overall floor plan follows a strict symmetry. Like a pearl necklace, the individual functions are linked in a chain: the foyer leads through the hall with the fermentation tanks to the area devoted to technical processing, an atrium and finally to the workshop room.
Vineyard in Saint-Emilion, France, by Christian Portzamparc
Ground floor plan
The ground floor is without supports; six vertical concrete slabs run through the entire length of the building to hold up the roof. The main materials are exposed concrete and oak, a nod to wine casks and the concrete tanks used by Cheval Blanc.
Vineyard in Saint-Emilion, France, by Christian Portzamparc
SLIDE02---200609-CHEVAL BLANC(c)Erik_Saillet_6807 
A winery shaped like a belvedere projecting out from the château.
CONTENU02---200609-CHEVAL BLANC(c)Erik_Saillet_6860 
Project data
Client: Château Cheval Blanc, Saint-Emilion
Team: Etienne Pierres, Olivier Chadebost,
Daniel Romeo
Structural engineering: Scyna4
Landscape architecture: Agence Méristème
Usable space: 700 m²
Costs: Euro 12 million

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