The new winery at Pomerol's iconic 2.7 hectare Le Pin estate has opened in time for the 2011 harvest.
Replacing the famously low-key former building, the new cellars are around 60% below ground, with just the vinification area and a seven-metre high tower, topped by a tasting room and roof terrace, visible from the outside.
The site was designed by Belgian architect Paul Robbrecht of Robbrecht & Daem.
Robbrecht has formerly worked on the Whitechapel Art Gallery in London and the Bruges concert hall, but this was his first winery, and took its inspiration from cellars such as Pichon Baron and Latour, ‘but on a smaller, intimate scale that suits Le Pin,’ owner Jacques Thienpont told Decanter.com.
‘We took delivery of the vats on Friday September 16,’ Thienpont said, ‘and brought the first grapes in the following Monday. Already we can see the difference in the precision that this new cellar gives.’
‘But the work in the vines is what counts, and I will still interfere as little as possible in the process of vinification.’
In total the new cellars contain seven stainless steel vats while in the underground section, there is room for two vintages of barrels – usually between 30 to 40 barrels per year – together with separate rooms for storage, bottle preparation and a technical control centre.
Materials used throughout the winery include local Frontenac stone, French oak, unpolished concrete and Welsh slate for the roof tiles.
The landscaping outside the cellars is still to be finished, and a new pine tree is due to be planted, to add to the two existing trees that gave the estate its name.
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux