Decanter reported recently that Clos Dady has been sold to a Russian investor by Catherine and Christophe Gachet. Ilkham Ragimov is based in Moscow, where he is co-owner of the city’s largest hotel complex, and is vice-president of the International Union of Lawyers. Clos Dady is a tiny 6 hectare property situated between Chateau de Malle and Chateau Bastor Lamontagne in the commune of Preignac. Clos Dady is made at Chateau de Bastard and took its name after Catherine’s mother’s surname: Dady. The wine is sold under the Sauternes AOC but the estate also has 3 hectares in the Graves AOC which is bottled under the names Chateau La Tour Les Remparts (red) and Clos Les Remparts (dry white).
According to Decanter the wine making at Clos Dady will be overseen by Jerome Cosson and Audrey Fargues of nearby Chateau d’Arche. Clos Dady is said to be less sweet than other Sauternes, with a lovely perfumed nose of pink grapefruit and honey.
Before dedicating themselves to wine making, Catherine Gachet was a press attaché and her husband, Christophe Gachet, a dental surgeon. Wine making has been in Catherine’s family down through the generations. Her grandfather, Alix, made wines for the famous French writer, François Mauriac. The couple now hope to open a clinic in Switzerland with the profits from the sale of the estate.
Catherine made international headlines in 2005 when she was forced to reshoot an advertising photograph in which she posed with a glass of wine on the ridiculous grounds that she looked “too sexy”. At that time the Evin Law was in full swing and the court came down on the side of the health campaigners. The saga began when Catherine was chosen as one of the faces of Bordeaux wine for a national poster and newspaper advertising campaign.
The sale of Clos Dady makes it the 3rd property in Bordeaux to be owned by Russians. In 2008 Château Livran (Médoc) was bought by Alexey Shkrapkin, and Château La Favière (Saint-Seurin-sur-l’Isle) was bought in May this year by Natalia and Stanislay Zingerenko.
The Russian love affair with Sauternes dates back to the 19th century. The Russian court found the wines of Sauternes delicious. Indeed, in 1859, the Grand Duke Constantin Nicolaievitch, brother of the Tsar, visited the vineyards of Bordeaux. He tasted the Chateau d’Yquem1847 and bought a barrel for 20,000 gold franks. Up to 1917 Russia was the main importer of Sauternes and Nicholas II was so impressed by the wine that he asked Prince Leo Golytsin to create a Russian alternative to the French Chateau d’Yquem in Massandra. The authentic Chateau d’Yquem 1865 from the Tsar’s reserves is still preserved in Massandra’s cellars.
There is even a legend that the sweet wines of Sauternes owe their very existence to Russia. One story tells of a French nobleman who went bear-hunting in Russia. Before leaving his estate he ordered that the harvest was not to be attempted until his return. He was delayed until the November and his workers had to wait until he could order the harvest. The grapes had started to rot but the wine was made nevertheless – and thus Sauternes was born. However the reality is that records from Chateau de Malle show that the oldest evidence of sweet white wine produced at de Malle is from the vintage year 1666!