The news broke yesterday that Chateau Les Carmes Haut Brion has been sold for a record sum to Patrice Pichet, a real estate developer based in Pessac. Pichet bought the 4.7 hectare property for 18 million
euros which has caused quite a stir in Bordeaux as this gives a price of 3.82 million euros a hectare (there is a chateau and a 3 hectare park to build into the price as well as the vines).
As Jane Anson points out (writing for Decanter) vineyards have previously changed hands for around the 1 – 1.5 million euros a hectare:
“In 2007, Martin and Olivier Bouygues paid €140m for the 65ha Château Montrose in St Estephe (about €2m per hectare), and the de Bouard family of Chateau Angelus paid €10m for a 50% stake in the 6ha Château Bellevue in St Emilion, also in 2007. . .
. . . Alexander Hall, director of Bordeaux-based consulting firm Vineyard Intelligence told Decanter.com, ‘
The real estate market has changed since Bouygues bought Montrose, and if Pichet was buying simply from a winemaking perspective, then he would appear to be paying over the odds.
However, he is a real estate developer and his motivations might not be entirely focused on the winemaking potential of the property. It is after all nearly 10 hectares in total of prime real estate close the centre of Bordeaux.’
However I don’t think Pichet’s sights are on the real estate value of the property. When you consider that he is buying a chateau with “Haut Brion” in its name – and one that actually was part of the First Growth Chateau Haut Brion centuries ago – I think the high price can be explained
. There is talk that Haut Brion itself was interested in buying Les Carmes. Back in November last year Château Chenu Lafitte in the Côtes de Bourg appellation was bought by a Chinese investor as a gift for his 20 year old son. One of the minority shareholders,
Guolong Yin, has been running the estate since April 2010, when the purchase was complete – although negotiations began over three years ago. In 2008 Château Latour Laguens (in the Entre Deux Mers) was acquired by Chinese investors and the coincidence that both
châteaux having the same names as two Pauillac First Growths – notably Lafite and Latour – in their titles has not gone unnoticed. The objective with both châteaux is to sell the wines in China.
Patrice Pichet is head of one of the best “success stories” of the economy in Aquitaine with a company that employs 800 people and a 400 million euro turnover.
He has said that he plans to use the 19th century chateau as a show case for his company, rebuild the winery and redevelop the park to encourage biodiversity. There are plans to make the chateau more welcoming by removing the walls which conceal the vines to residents and motorists (don’t forget that this property is an oasis of vines in the city!).
Chateau Les Carmes Haut Brion is adjacent to Haut Brion and was part of the First Growth until 1584. John de Pontac, the then owner of Haut Brion donated the vineyards to the Carmelites, a Catholic religious order founded in the 12th century, in return for their prayers to grant him a long life. He lived till he was 101.
The chateau takes its name Carmes from this religious order. The Carmelites received vineyards and a mill, Moulin de Crespiac on the stream named Peugue. In 1791 the Carmelites lost the property thanks to the French Revolution and it was purchased by Colin Leon, a Bordeaux wine merchant.
Leon is the direct ancestor of the Furt Chantecaille family ( now 4 brothers and 3 sisters) who have just sold the chateau to Pichet. Apparently the sale took a year of negotiations and Penelope Furt-Roche, the current Manager is to remain onboard