Chateau La Dominique in Saint-Emilion

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Poised on the boundary between Saint Emilion and Pomerol, Château La Dominique shows the modern face of Bordeaux despite dating back to the 16th century.

Named after one of the first owners, Dominique Glenn, Château La Dominique has been under the ownership of the Fayat family since 1969 and joined the rank of Grand Cru Classé in the 1995 classification.

Clément Fayat opened introduced this sleeping beauty to the 21st century in 2012 by commission the architect Jean Nouvel to create a new technical cellar for the property. He then handed the keys of the estate to his sons for them to carry the project forward, and they have. Finished in 2014, this shinny, red cellar is now a beacon for visitors lost amongst the vines of Pomerol and Saint Emilion and a Best Of Wine Tourism Gold winner for architecture.

The cellar is dressed in six shades of red, representing the evolution of the wine of the Château. The exterior walls are covered in mirrored, red stainless steel blades that reflect the surrounding countryside. Slightly curved, they give an inverted and fragmented vision of the vines and sky, at once separate from and integrated into the landscape.

© Hervé Lefèbvre

The roof of this monumental cellar offers a unique view across the neighbouring prestigious vineyards. The floor is strewn with red glass pebbles representing the picked grapes fermenting in the vats below.

© Wendy Narby

As arresting as the architecture is, it is also a place of work. During harvest part of these metal blades slide open to reveal an ultra-modern wine making facility with two rows of gravity fed stainless steel tanks and a glass end wall to maximise daylight.

The ageing cellar is more traditional: small and dark with a lower ceiling, the walls are dark red and the barrels are presented on a crescent, oxoline system for ease of work.

© Wendy Narby

This new architecture is perfectly adapted to welcome guests, as well as wine technology, and has allowed the Fayat family to open up the chateau to visitors. The original, traditional building houses a visitors centre for the guided tours of the vineyard, a tasting room and a boutique with another impressive red glass installation suspended from the ceiling. But it is the terrace above the cellar that steals the show. As well as the panoramic view over the vineyards and the red glass pebble floor, it houses La Terrasse Rouge restaurant, a favourite among locals and wine professionals as well as visiting tourists. The wines on offer are not uniquely from the Fayat stable (which includes château Clément Pichon in the Haut Medoc and Château Fayat in Pomerol). A range of 250 wines, including a changing by the glass selection, from across Bordeaux and further afield are all displayed and explained in great detail on interactive tablets.

In 2017 the chateau welcomed over 12 000 visitors to the vineyard and over 45 000 people were served at the Terrasse Rouge restaurant.  

Architecture, art, wine and food - it's a winning wine tourism combination!