Last year I wrote about the Bordeaux chateaux owned by Louis Roederer in Champagne Roederer’s Bordeaux Estates. This year Roederer have sold off two of their chateaux, the most recent being the sale of Chateau Bernadotte to the Hong Kong based King Power Group.
King Power specialises in the distribution of luxury brands such as Cartier, Lafite Rothschild, and Hennessy etc (especially in Duty Free) and has an array of business interests in real estate, sports and health services and manufacturing.
It is the owner of the Agatha fashion accessories brand and plans to use its retail network to support the development of Chateau Bernadotte on the international market.
Chateau Bernadotte has a vineyard of about 100 acres in the commune of Saint Sauveur, which borders the Pauillac appellation and produces about 200,000 bottles per year. The chateau’s wines are sold under the Haut Medoc appellation and the Second Wine is named Chateau Fournas Bernadotte.
Chateau Bernadotte was purchased in 1997 by May-Eliane de Lencquesaing, the then owner of Pichon Lalande from the Swedish industrialist Curt Eklund. In 1973 Eklund had bought Chateau Fournas and 10 hectares of vines in Pauillac.
de Lencquesaing changed the name of Fournas to Bernadotte and added the 10 hectares of Pauillac vines to Pichon Lalande’s vineyards. Fournas is an ancient lieu dit in the area (an old French term for a vineyard that bears a traditional name).
It’s thought that the chateau was named Bernadotte in honour of Marshal Bernadotte who became King Charles XIV John of Sweden in 1818.
He did not use Bernadotte in Sweden but founded the royal dynasty there by that name. He was elected King of Sweden partly because a large part of the Swedish Army, in view of future complications with Russia, were in favour of electing a soldier, and partly because Bernadotte was also very popular in Sweden, owing to the kindness he had shown to the Swedish prisoners during the recent war with Denmark.
However some reports say that the chateau was named in honour of his ancestor, Germaine Bernadotte de Latour who married Jouandou du Pouey in the year 1615. Germaine was originally from Pau in Bearne, in the Pyrenees mountains (hence her name of Bernadotte).
Naming customs practiced at the time were complicated and children could take their mother’s surname which is why her descendants are not named du Pouey! Perhaps the renaming of Fournas to Bernadotte was de Lencquesaing’s nod to both Sweden and France?
The other chateau that Roederer sold earlier in January 2012 was Chateau Réaut la Gravière which was bought by Yannick Evenou, Managing Director of the Fayat Vineyards: Château Clément Pichon Haut Medoc, Château la Dominique Saint Emilion and Château Fayat Pomerol).
Evenou took the unusual step of offering shares in the chateau, now renamed Chateau Réaut on Facebook (see my blog Bordeaux Chateau Bought Via Facebook). According to their Facebook page Champagne Roederer owned the chateau in 2003 but just as their restoration work and improvements to the vineyards were about to bear fruit in 2009 they changed their strategy and abandoned the project.
I am not quite sure what Roederer’s strategy was. I can understand that Chateau Bernadotte came into their hands as part of the deal when purchasing Second Growth Chateau Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande and that subsequently may not have been a priority but why purchase chateau only to leave the field?
They also own Chateau de Pez (purchased 1995) and Chateau Haut Beausejour (purchased 1992), both in Saint Estephe. Are these chateaux likely to be sold off in the future? Perhaps not, Frédéric Rouzaud, chairman of the Champagne group, told Wine Spectator that “With the sale of Bernadotte,
we are now concentrating our efforts on Château Pichon Lalande, Château de Pez and Château Haut-Beauséjour” so it seems to be merely a case of streamlining their portfolio.