12 June 2024 / Ádám Geri / Photos: ANAKA / Cité du Vin / XTU architects Copy actual URL Facebook share Twitter share

Behind the scenes at the world's most famous wine museum

Interview with Florence Maffrand, the Head of Wine Partnerships & International Patronage, La Cité du Vin.

Why can La Cité du Vin call itself the world’s number one wine museum (or wine entertainment centre)? What are the key cornerstones of the concept?

La Cité du Vin is the only wine museum in the world to showcase terroirs from all over the world and not just talk about the vineyards in the immediate vicinity. Its cultural dimension is also very important since the museum presents wine as cultural heritage. Moreover, new technologies ensure the content offers real cultural experiences to visitors. Finally, everyone can enjoy the visit: professionals and novices alike, locals and international visitors, children and adults. We offer a wide range of activities to suit all tastes.

 

 

Why is it worth a non-wine drinker visiting La Cité du Vin?

There's always something to learn, whether you're a wine connoisseur or not. We offer the chance to explore the different cultural facets of wine on the planet: wine has been central to human life since 6000 BC. It sculpts our landscapes, accompanies our beliefs, lifestyles, traditions and social practices and pervades our imagination. We present history, geography, climate, agriculture, nature, innovation, religion, art and the art of living, universal topics illustrated by examples from different wine regions around the world. Wine is more than just a beverage, and that's what the various activities of La Cité du Vin are all about. You can always learn something about a subject about which you know nothing, because the diversity of subjects is so wide and there is so much content to discover. If you don't drink wine, it's not all about tasting (and there's always a wine-free alternative). It’s more than a visit, it's a truly original experience to discover, and one that everyone can enjoy.

 

Florence Maffrand

 

Can visitors come across or taste Hungarian wines? If so, how?

Tasting one glass of wine from our various partnerships around the world is included in the permanent exhibition ticket. Most of your senses are activated during the visit and the tasting in the Belvedere at the top of the museum tower is the natural final step to conclude the experience. There is a selection of 15 different wines of varying origins and styles, and visitors are guided in their choice by our team of sommeliers. We are very proud to have begun a partnership with Wines of Hungary in 2019, which was renewed in 2024. Thanks to this partnership, we can offer tastings of Hungarian wines at times as part of the permanent exhibition or as part of our cultural programme.

 

 

Why does it make sense for Hungary, a foreign nation, to be present at La Cité du Vin?

La Cité du Vin is operated by a foundation of public interest, the Foundation for Wine Culture and Civilisations. The Foundation was created to protect, promote and share the countless cultural, historic and symbolic aspects of wine. Its aim is to defend, highlight and pass on the cultural and intellectual dimension of wine. The Foundation is attempting to make this universal, living heritage accessible to as many people as possible by offering an innovative new perspective. Based on these key tasks, we have about 50 different partnerships all over the world and it was essential for Hungarian wines to be one of them.

 

Is there any kind of dedicated Hungarian project (masterclass, tasting event etc.) in the pipeline for 2024-2025?

In previous years, we have included some events specifically dedicated to Hungarian wine culture, such as a dedicated tasting presented by Wines of Hungary, the broadcasting of a documentary on the Tokaj wine region and the production of a podcast on Hungary. We have also highlighted Hungarian wines to illustrate various masterclass topics such as the “sweet wines of the world” or different wine pairings. We are now working with Wines of Hungary on new proposals for 2025.

 

 

In 2023, La Cité du Vin staff had a team building event outside France for the first time. Why did you choose Hungary for that?

2023 was an exceptional year for our team as the museum was closed for one month to renew the content of our permanent exhibition, so we planned a three-day trip with the sommelier team. We selected Hungary as we could explore three different styles of wines typical to each of the following three regions: Tokaj, Eger and Etyek. We were able to improve our team’s knowledge about the winemaking process of Tokaji Aszú, typical Egri Bikavér reds and lovely sparkling wines. This diversity of experience was appreciated just as much as the warm welcome we received at each visit. It was also a good occasion to reenergise our partnership.

 

La Cité du Vin has a wine shop, Latitude20, which also sells Hungarian wines. “We are delighted to offer Hungarian wines in our wine shop. They stand out thanks to their unique qualities and the numerous winemaking traditions that inscribe them in the rich Hungarian heritage. The 22 wine-producing regions of Hungary offer a large range of local grape varieties and soils, and as a result, a beautiful diversity of wine styles”, said the general manager of the wine shop, Arnaud Guichard.

 

Cover photo: ANAKA/Cité du Vin / XTU architects / Casson Mann/ Agence Clémence Farrell

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