A vineyard renowned worldwide for producing some of the most consistently delectable wines deserves a winery that will garner a similar reception from design aficionados now and when it has matured. This was the thinking of architect Christian de Portzamparc, the first French winner of the Pritzker Prize in 1994, who was commissioned to create a building to house the wine production facilities at the legendary Château Cheval Blanc in Saint-Emilion, France. Responding to the brief of the Château’s owners, Bernard Arnault and Baron Albert Frere, Portzamparc has created a graceful concrete sculpture that sweeps across the vines and is subtle in profile but bold in form. Working within the need to blend into the landscape at the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Portzamparc built what he describes as a “winery under the hill”, a structure that is covered in landscaping which descends into the estate. Functional rather than pioneering in its technology, the new winery features mashrabiya walls to facilitate natural ventilation. Elsewhere, materials were chosen to make this one of the few buildings in the wine business to have High Environmental Quality certification. “A hill or a hanging garden floating over the vines?” asks Portzamparc of his winery. Whatever the answer, the design world agrees that he has succeeded in creating a harmonious addition to Château Cheval Blanc that will never reveal its vintage.

Why is Château Cheval Blanc so revered by wine connoisseurs?
The unique “terroir” of Château Cheval Blanc features a patchwork of clay, sand and gravel that produces both Cabernet Franc and Merlot. It is the unusual proportions of the mix of these two grapes that gives Cheval Blanc its distinct taste that is said to be good at any age.