Jan 16, 2024

Putting the Culture in Viticulture – Bordeaux for art lovers

As Wine and Art pioneer, Château Mouton Rothschild announces their latest label, let me take you on a tour of Bordeaux properties highlighting the culture in viticulture and how every vintage is an opportunity for new artistic inspiration.

Château Mouton Rothschild is known for art and wine thanks to their labels illustrated by a different artist each vintage. Originally introduced for the first chateau bottling in 1923, it was relaunched in 1945, with a commemorative label to celebrate the end of WWII. On 1st December 2023 the château announced that the Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota will illustrate the label of the 2021 vintage with her work, Universe of Mouton, inspired by the delicate balance between man and nature at the property.

Since the opening of the majestic cellars in 2013, the ‘Painting for the Labels’ exhibition is now open to visitors all year long. It brings together all the original artworks for the labels of Mouton with the explanation behind the inspiration and often different art works proposed by each artist.


In Saint Emilion Château de Ferrand (2023 Best Of Wine Tourism winner in the ‘Art & Culture’ category) takes a light hearted approach to art, with a huge sculpture of a chewed pen top by Julien Gudéa welcomes you to the property. Château de Ferrand belongs to the Bich family, creators of the Bic pens and all year long they share works from their collection at the property, all inspired by or created with the Bic pens and ink.

The walls of the ‘Salon Bic’ tasting room are covered with a fresco by Alexandre Doucin, drawn uniquely in Bic biro. In 2023, they transformed their barrel cellar into an art gallery to host an exhibition of 62 works created by 24 artists from nine different countries from the Musée de la Création Franche that houses the largest collection of works created with Bic pens.

There’ll be more in 2024 including a special performance by the l’Opéra National de Bordeaux on 23rd June.


In 1883, Château Toulouse Lautrec, in the Entre Deux Mers was purchased by the Comtesse Adèle de Toulouse-Lautrec and it became the home to its most famous resident, her son, the painter Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

In 2013, the Huynh family bought the vineyard and completely  renovated both the cellars and the chateau, including the apartments of Henri de Toulouse Lautrec. Thanks to local historian and an approved guide lecturer visitors can now discover the life of the artist through the perfectly preserved original 19th century décor.


Vintage collection

In 1989 Jean-Michel Cazes met Pierre Alechinsky and asked him to illustrate the vintage with a work of art. Every year since then, a different  artist creates an original work for Château Lynch-Bages inspired by that vintage and the chateau hosts an exhibition of work. The property now has a very impressive collection. In 2023, they shared an exhibition of the works of the artist Fabienne Verdier.

At Château Smith Haut Lafitte, Florence Cathiard, shares her contemporary art collection with visitors in both the vines and the château. She has been adding a piece a year to her collection since they purchased this classified growth of the Graves in 1990. In 2023, a new sculpture by British artist Natalie Clark joined the collection, a piece that reflects the link between soil and sky, planets and plants, and that echoes their commitment to biodynamic viticulture.



The artist Barthélémy Toguo was a guest of honour in 2023 at Château Fleur de Lisse in Saint Emilion as part of the Bordeaux based BAD+ Art Fair with his Chroniques du vivant, exhibition. A dozen decorated amphora based on the natural environment of the château and surrounded by  hundreds of ceramic salamanders running across the floor of the cellars.



Céline Villars-Foubet and her husband Jean-Pierre took over the family property of Château Chasse Spleen in Moulis in 2000. Passionate about art, in 2017 they opened a contemporary art centre in the elegant 18th century ‘chartreuse’ to share art alongside their wines.

Just like the vintage, every year is a new story, hosting the works of a different artist alongside their private collection.  There’s a wine bar on the terrace and three guests rooms, should art and wine fans want to linger. 2024 will start with an exhibition by Camille Benbournane, local ceramic artist and photographer


The most striking example of a permanent art show in the Medoc is Chateau d’Arsac. When Philippe Raoux purchased the property in 1986, it was in ruins with only 3ha in production. Everything needed re building. The inspiration to create a link between wine, vines and art came in 1988 with a visit from The Peter Stuyvesant Foundation. Together they organised a summer art festival and the 1989 harvest was brought in under the watchful eye of works from artists Indiana, Vasarely, Appel, Viallat, Morellet and de St Phalle. They continued to organise art festivals until 1996.  Now, each vintage sees a new work arrive at the chateau. The vines fund the art. Art and wine tours of the property and the collection are available every afternoon during the week.


Every vintage Château Castera Cru Bourgeois in the Northern Medoc, invites a different contemporary artist to create and show works at ‘Castera Expose.’ They won the 2024 Best Of Wine Tourism Award in Art and Culture for their exhibition with Camélia Otéro in 2023.



Art doesn’t have to be static. Two of the 2024 Art and Culture Regional Best Of winners transformed their cellars into interactive and playful experiences.

Château La Fleur de Boüard in Lalande de Pomerol hosts a ‘son and Lumiere’ that takes visitors from past to present and grape to glass with an immersive experience reflecting off the stainless steel vats suspended above the barrels.


Château Siran in Margaux also lights up its cellars. Their ‘Sirius à Siran’ show bounces lights off a galaxy of disco balls and stroboscopes that shower visitors with stars. It brilliantly brings to life the new wine label for the 2021 vintage. A journey through the galaxy by Franco-American artist Peter Soriano.

2023 was a bumper crop for art and wine in Bordeaux, stay tuned to see what the new exhibitions will be across the vineyard in 2024.


Wendy Narby

Insider Tasting

Photo credits : ©Château Mouton Rothschild / ©Château de Ferrand ©Champs Libres / ©Château d'Arsac