The Chinese have made their first investment in Margaux with the state owned Liaoning Energy Investment group’s purchase of Clos des Quatre Vents, Chateau Tayac Plaisance and Villa des Quatre Soeurs from Luc Thienpont. The group have also acquired Thienpont’s other estate Chateau Bonneau in the Haut Medoc and ‘Z’ his wine made under the Bordeaux AOC from a vineyard adjoining the Margaux appellation.
Luc is a member of the Thienpont negotiant and wine making dynasty – his brother, Jacques, is the owner of Le Pin in Pomerol. The Liaoning Energy Investment group already produce wine in China and take their name from Liaoning province in North East China (Manchuria) close to the borders of North Korea and Russia. The group specialise in energy (solar power, electricity, wind etc) and this is their first foray into Bordeaux.
Liaoning province itself is not new to the Chinese craze for all things Bordeaux; Dalian is one of its major cities and is home to wine themed parks, Bordeaux styled chateaux and wine festivals. The Dalian Haichang Group already own several Bordeaux chateaux. (See Moving Bordeaux To China.) Liaoning is also the site of the largest Ice Wine winery in the world situated near Huanlong Lake.
The properties purchased by the Liaoning Energy Investment group in Margaux are tiny vineyards and produce wines in the garagiste (micro cuvee) style. Clos des Quatre Vents is the flagship estate and has 2.9 acres (1.2 hectares) planted with very old vines (some are 80 years old). It is situated on a plateau at the entrance to the town of Margaux, overlooking Chateau Margaux and is surrounded by Grand Cru Classé vineyards.
Villa des Quatre Soeurs is a 3.7 acre (1.5 hectare) plot near the village of Soussans and Chateau Tayac Plaisance covers 7.6 acres (3.1 hectares) are sits between Soussans and Tayac. The grapes grown in all 3 vineyards are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot.
The Thienpont family wine making history goes back to the 16th century when they founded a wine merchants business at their 16th century manor house Hof te Cattebeke in Flanders (Belgium) in 1842 (which still operates today). There are at least 7 wine makers in the family, at least another 5 who trade in wine and one Master of Wine. Luc Thienpont left Belgium in 1979 to take on the management of Chateau Labegorce Zede in Margaux. The family decided to sell the chateau in 2004, and Luc turned his full attentions to Clos des Quatre Vents. According to Vitisphere Luc, at the age of 62, decided to slow down and had been looking for the right investor to sell his properties on to, one who could ensure the continuity in the style of the wines and customer base. It seems the Liaoning Energy Investment group met the criteria. . .