Chateau Haut Brion. 19th century Vineyard & a Masterpiece Celar.
Château les Carmes Haut-Brion
To begin with, the Pichet real estate group purchaised the property of Chateau Haut Brion , aiming to make this unique 10-hectare property a jewel in the heart of Bordeaux. The property at this time consists of 5 hectares of vines as well as beautiful grounds designed by landscape artist Louis-Bernard Fischer in the 19th century.
Historically speaking, Les Carmes Haut-Brion was originally outside of Bordeaux. Presently it is surrounted by the city and two of its suburds. This location is highly important because its microclimate is conducive to ripening. Therefore, the landscaped grounds and abundance of water are at the heart of an ecosystem highly beneficial to winegrowing. All thanks to the Le Peugue stream that crosses the estate.
Most noteworthy are some ancient documents – since 1426- which prove that vines were planted to produce wine for a local chapel that was founded in Bordeaux by the Menuts Monks. Consequenlty. this makes Chateau Haut Brion the oldest, continuously working winery in Bordeaux.
A Masterpiece Wine Celar
Philippe Starck & Luc Arsene-Henry
Patrick Picket who headed up the family real estate group, is a great lover of wine as well as of design and architecture. His ambitious dream was to create a remarkable hectare property. For the best outcome he called two outstanding designers : French designer Phillippe Starck and architect Luc Arsene-Henry.
This unique architectural work, a raw metal blade plunged in the ground and buried below the surface of a body of water.
The designers developed a structure that is partly submerged in a manmade lake. It contains a new vat house, a barrel cellar, a series of reception rooms and a large roof terrace. The structure features a streamlined form that is clad externally with stainless steel panels. Like a giant knife blade. Free from any architectural gesture, it symbolises the qualities of the wine that is made there: finesse and elegance.
Measuring 2,000 square meters across four levels, the cellar accommodates 300 barrels. Vats of various shapes also serve as canvases for invited artists, the first of who is Aria Starck. Simultaneously, a tasting room on the top floor offers a view down over the vats from above. It also leads up to the roof terrace, where visitors can look out over the vineyards.
The hidden lower level contains the barrel cellar, with room for storing up to 300 wooden barrels. This space protects the barrels against changes in air temperature and humidity. Furthermore, there is a vat room which holds rows of large wine containers, ranging in material from wood to steel and concrete. Like the Château’s different grape varieties and soil types.
Of course, it is the remarkable bronze sheen of the seemingly extraterrestrial edifice that distinguishes it from not only as a cellar but as an architectural marvel.
“As a blade fallen from the sky in a superb copse of tall trees on either side. Flanked by vine-covered slopes, the new cellar distributes the four levels of various wine-making and reception areas,” said Arsène-Henry.
‘’Was this raw metal blade pushed towards the ethers by telluric forces or did it fall here from elsewhere? … as a harmonic confrontation between nature and human genius, it melts and blends in with the water, the soil and the tree bark around. it is the product of nature improvement : the human intelligence. it is the expression of nature’s pure intelligence.’’ – Philippe Starck
The project finished in June 24th 2016. Along with its new structure, the work included a restoration on the grounds of château les Carmes Haut-Brion. As a result, the chateau had a new entrance, the rehabilitation of the hydraulic systems and a fountain from the 15th century. Therefore, beyond the aesthetic aspect, the wetland restoration of the château helps regulate runoff and protect the biodiversity specific to the site.
“Above all, we wanted to make this cellar an efficient tool,” said Arsène-Henry.’’
Photos : les.carmes.haut.brion Content : Elena Iliadou Curator : Eleanna Tabouri