Matthieu Cuvelier, owner of the Saint Emilion Premier Cru Classé B Chateau Clos Fourtet (and also of Chateau Poujeaux in Moulis) has purchased 3 chateaux in Saint Emilion from the Reiffers family: Clos Saint-Martin, Chateau Les Grandes Murailles and Chateau Côte de Baleau.
Manager Sophie Fourcade (of the Reiffers family) told LARVF that the 3 chateaux were sold to Cuvelier as she was unable to buy out her siblings who wished to sell their shares. She did not want to sell the chateaux to a pension fund, insurance company or to an unknown Chinese investor and therefore sought out a buyer closer to home who shared the same spirit of wine making and craftsmanship in order to ensure the 3 chateaux’s future. Sophie will continue to work at the 3 estates under the direction of Cuvelier.
Both Clos Saint Martin and Les Grandes Murailles are Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé (and have maintained this rank since 1955 with each subsequent classification). However one intriguing result from the recent 2012 Saint Emilion Classification was that Chateau Baleau (which was first classified Grand Cru Classé in 1955 but lost its status in 1969) came back into the spotlight from off the radar when it regained its Grand Cru Classé status under the new name of ‘Chateau Côte de Baleau’.
Both Côte de Baleau and Les Grandes Murailles have been in the Reiffers family since 1643 when King Louis XIV awarded them to a soldier in the family in recognition of his military exploits. Côte de Baleau lies in the north east part of Saint Emilion, less than one km from the medieval village and the estate’s vineyards cover 14.90 hectares. Les Grandes Murailles extends over 2 hectares and is located at the foot of the ruins of the convent of the Dominicans at the old north gate of Saint Emilion. Clos Saint Martin is a tiny vineyard of 1.33 hectares whose origins lie in 1850 and is situated near the church of Saint Martin.
Clos Saint Martin and Les Grandes Murailles are closest to Clos Fourtet, which sits on the limestone plateau of Saint Martin just outside the entrance to the old town of Saint Emilion. Clos Fourtet itself has an ancient history and was once a Medieval military fort known as Camfourtet (Camp Fourtet) which defended Saint Emilion. The present day chateau was built by Elie Rulleau in the mid 18th century. It is a beautiful manor house with some of the most extensive underground cellars in the region. The chateau was built over limestone quarries and caves which comprise the cellars. Some of the encircling walls of the original fort still exist today and Clos Fourtet is one of the few walled vineyards in the area.
Clos Fourtet’s vineyards span 19 hectares and there is some speculation that Clos Saint Martin and Les Grandes Murailles may be included in the wines of Clos Fourtet rather than be maintained individually. Michel Rolland is the consultant oenologist at the 3 chateaux whereas Stéphane Derenoncourt is the consultant at Clos Fourtet. However, Sophie Fourcade maintains that Rolland will stay on at the three chateaux. It will be interesting to watch developments and – as always – I will keep you posted!