The Sud Ouest paper has reported that Chateau L’Enclos in Saint Foy is to be sold to the Haichang Group, led by billionaire Cheng Qu. The Haichang Group aims to acquire 25 properties in Bordeaux and already owns several chateaux. Christian Delpeuch, former President of the CIVB (the Bordeaux Wine Trade body), now operates as a consultant for the group and is Director General of Lamont which has been set up as a subsidiary of Haichang Group to import wines to China.
The Haichang Group has invested a total of 3 billion yuan to build the 333-hectare Dalian International Wine Industry Park in the Dalian Bonded Zone and considers wine culture, tourism and trade “three driving forces for growth” (see my Blog Moving Bordeaux to China). Dalian is a major city and seaport and has 7 million inhabitants. It lies on the shores of the Yellow Sea and is an hour’s flight east of Beijing. It is a popular destination among domestic tourists and foreign visitors, especially from Japan, South Korea and Russia. Haichang is also building Asia’s largest wine museum to foster a more sophisticated local wine culture.
The Haichang Group have 4 major business enterprises: petrochemicals, oil transportation and freight, real estate investment and business tourism. They already have two tourist resorts in Dalian: Golden Pebble Discoveryland and Polar Aquarium, plus at least 8 more planned in medium sized cities such as Yantai, Chongqing, Chengdu, Wuhan, Hangzhou and Tianjin.
The number of chateaux already purchased by Hiachang is reported to be either 8 or 10, however the only ones I know of so far are: Chateaux Chenu Lafitte (Cotes de Bourg), Grand Branet (Cotes de Bordeaux), Branda (Fronsac), Laurette (Saint Croix du Mont), Thebot ( AOC Bordeaux, next to Sainte Foy), Baby (Sainte Foy) and Millaud Montlabert (Saint Emilion).
Chateau L’Enclos dates back to the 17th century and had been owned by Isabelle and Eric Bonneville since 2002. The estate totals 40 hectares consisting of gardens and park, a lime and plane tree lined avenue, orangery and vineyards (24 hectares). L’Enclos produces both red and white wines (the vineyards are planted with 60% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 20% Cabernet Sauvignon for the reds and 45% Sauvignon Blanc, 30% Muscadalle and 25% Semillon for the whites). Stephane Derenoncourt was the consultant oenologist.
Christian Delpeuch apparently wanted to appear reassuring about the objectives of the Chinese investors: “They buy the vineyards and buildings, begin a program of rehabilitation of vineyards and cellars, hire French staff. Most of the production is for the Chinese distribution of high-end wines, they want to produce high quality without change of appellation. “
Delpeuch dramatically resigned as President of the CIVB back in 2006 in protest at the lack of progress on the reforms he wanted in the region.