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Bordeaux Grand Cru Classes Expand With Vineyard Purchases

Francois Pinault, owner of Bordeaux First Growth Chateau Latour has bought an ouvrée (1.03 acres or 0.417 hectares) of vineyard from Chateau de Puligny Montrachet for 1 million euros and two ouvrées (2.06 acres or 0.834 hectares) of vineyard from the Montrachet Grand Cru Bâtard-Montrachet for 900,000 euros each. Following the sale Etienne de Montille (owner of Domaine de Montille and who had been in control at Chateau de Puligny Montrachet) bought the remaining 21 hectares and chateau from the French bank Caisse d’Epargne. (Vineyard Gate’s Blog Wine Yoda has a great report on the sale here).

Pinault already owns vines in Burgundy – in 2006 he purchased Domaine René Engel and renamed it Domaine d’Eugénie after his grandmother. Domaine René Engel was one of the leading lights of Vosne Romanée until the tragically early death of Philippe Engel, grandson of the founder, in 2005. It is rare for such a property to come onto the market and rarer still that it was bought by a Bordeaux wine maker. Pinault has also expanded into the Rhone with his purchase of Chateau Grillet in 2011 from the Neyret-Gachet family who had been owners of the chateau since 1830.

Chateau Grillet lies near the hamlets of St Michel sur Rhone and Verin and produces a rare dry white wine made solely from the Viognier grape. Production is between 10,000 and 13,000 bottles per year. The wine bottles that Grillet uses are more akin to an Alsace style than to the Rhone – they are slim brown bottles and are used by no other French winery. Chateau Grillet is unusual in that it forms its own AOC. This is known as a monopole (an area controlled by a single winery). It is rare to find a monopole outside Burgundy and the AOC Chateau Grillet neighbours the Condrieu AOC. The entire AOC Chateau Grillet only covers 9.4 acres and was officially created in 1936.

Earlier this year Bernard Magrez, owner of Chateau Pape Clementpurchased the Sauternes Second Growth Chateau Romer 17.29 acres (7 hectares), Chateau Malleprat in Pessac Leognan 34.59 acres (14 hectares) and Chateau Moulin d’Ulysse in Listrac Medoc 27.18 acres (11 hectares).

It’s believed that Chateau Romer was founded in the 17th century by the Montalier family, (it shares its early history with that of Château Romer du Hayot). In 1800, Ferdinand Auguste de Lur-Saluces married a descendant of the founders, Marie Thérèse Gabrielle de Montalier, and the chateau was included in the wine empire of the Lur-Saluces family. It has belonged to the Farges family since 1911 and currently only 8.64 acres (3.5 hectares) are used for wine production. The chateau is the smallest classified estate in Sauternes and it’s reported that Magrez might integrate its production with the nearby Château Latrezotte in Barsac, where he produces La Sauternes de ma Fille..

Chateau Malleprat lies in Martillac and was mentioned in the 4th Edition of Cocks and Ferret in 1881. It was purchased by Frédéric Cots over 45 years ago whose passion was breeding of racehorses at the property. Ten years ago Jean Claude Cots took the helm and resumed wine making operations at the chateau. He renovated the chateau and improved the vineyard and the wines reputation started to grow. Initially the wines were sold via the negotiants Ginestet but since 2005 the chateau has been distributing the wine direct to a loyal clientèle including private individuals, wine merchants and restaurateurs.

Chateau Moulin d’Ulysse has been in the same family for several generations and has seen expansion from its original 2 hectares and a new winery over the past decade. The family pioneered the creation of the Listrac Medoc wine co-operative during the wine crisis of the 1930s. It’s reported that Magrez will use the vineyards here to produce a second wine for the classified château, La Tour Carnet.

The acquisition of these 3 chateaux bring Magrez’s properties up to 40 in total and he is said to be extremely pleased that he now owns as many classed growths as the Rothschilds.

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3 Responses to Bordeaux Grand Cru Classes Expand With Vineyard Purchases

  1. Georges says:

    François Pinault acquired 0.0428ha of Le Montrachet.

  2. Georges says:

    0.0428ha of Le Montrachet

    • Nick says:

      Thanks Georges – there has been some confusion over the size of the land that Pinault bought due to people being unfamiliar with older systems French of measurement. I think a few got confused between acres and ares. I believe I have got it right?

      In Burgundy an ouvrée is 4.28 ares and an are is 100 square metres. The measurements came about as an ouvrée corresponds to the size of vineyard surface that can be dug by a winemaker in one day. Cellar Notes has a great conversion table for French vineyard measurements here http://www.cellarnotes.net/measures_and_conversions.html