The owner of First Growth Chateau Latour, Francois Pinault, has invested in Pomerol, its neighbouring AOC Lalande de Pomerol and Saint Emilion for the first time by gaining a 49% stake in the vineyards of Baron Guichard. The investment is big news in Bordeaux and a benchmark for Pomerol, which is home to some of the world’s most famous wines.
Pomerol is a tiny AOC and neighbours that of Saint Emilion (in fact it was a sub appellation of Saint Emilion until 1900). The vineyards are located 19 miles north east of Bordeaux and 2 miles from the city of Libourne on a gently rolling plateau which is renowned for its Merlot. The AOC Lalande de Pomerol is separated from Pomerol by the Barbanne stream and although it has more acreage it is not as well known. However things have been changing since the 1990s and a number of savvy estates have made significant investments in these areas – notably Hubert de Boüard de Laforest, co-owner of the First Growth Saint Emilion Chateau Angelus. Will we see more I wonder?
Pinault’s investment is a sound move and suits the owners of Baron Guichard, Aline and Paul Goldschmidt. The company represents 3 chateaux: Chateau Siaurac in Lalande de Pomerol, Chateau Vray Croix de Gay in Pomerol and Chateau Le Prieuré, a Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé.
The Goldschmidt’s have said that the deal is a technical partnership and that they will benefit from Chateau Latour’s team of winemakers and their investment as they had been looking for an outside partner to relieve financial pressure. Aline and Paul took over the estates in 2004 and had to buy her family out to prevent the chateaux being sold thanks to French inheritance laws. They also invested heavily in modernising the estates, knowing full well the potential in their magnificent terroirs. Pinault’s investment will help them realise the potential of these sleeping beauties and give him a strong foothold on the Right Bank.
Goldschmidt will remain as managing director, Penelope Godefoy has been recruited as technical manager of the vineyards and Chateau Latour’s CEO Frédéric Engerer will oversee the management of the estates. 2014 will be the first full vintage under the new cooperation and, unlike Latour, it will be released after En Primeur.
Aline’s family have owned Chateau Siaurac since 1832 (her grandfather was Baron Guichard) and it has 120 acres in Lalande de Pomerol (it is said to be the largest estate in the AOC). It’s a beautiful chateau, set in 19th century parkland, peppered with specimen trees and wildflowers. The chateau regularly holds events, workshops and tastings and won a gold in the Best of Wine Tourism 2012.
Chateau Le Prieuré was bought in 1919 by the Baron and covers 15 acres. It sits on the sloping valley sides facing Chateau Ausonne between Chateaux Trottevieille, Troplong Mondot and Pavie Macquin. The vineyard there has existed since at least 1696 and was once the property of the Franciscan monks. In the late 1800s the wine produced was known as the Cru des Cordeliers and was hailed as a First Growth in the 1893 edition of Feret. The chateau was later named Le Prieuré (the Priory) in memory of the monastery. It has retained its Grand Cru Classé status since 1955.
Chateau Vray Croix de Gay sits on exceptional terroir and covers 8 acres. One of the plots of vines sits behind Pétrus and the vines also neighbour Le Pin. The vineyard was bought by the family in 1949 and it takes its name from the stone cross that marks the old Pilgrim Way to Santiago de Compostella. Originally it was known as Croix de Gaye and ‘Vray’ was later added as the name Croix de Gaye was registered by another estate.
The wines vary in price – Chateau Siaurac ranges from approximately £11.50 – £15 a bottle, Chateau Vray Croix de Gay from £13 – £39.00 and Chateau Le Prieuré from £21.50 – £46.00 depending on the vintage. With Latour’s involvement in the estates from now on the prices will inevitably rise.