Chateau de Gevrey-Chambertin, one of Burgundy’s most famous estates, has been sold to Louis Ng, a Chinese businessman for 8 million euros. The chateau dates back to the 12th century and belonged to the Abbey of Cluny. Chateau Gevrey-Chambertin has been a classified historical monument since 1993.
It has been the property of the Masson family since 1858 and is one of the most famous wines of Burgundy. The owner of the Chateau de Gevrey-Chambertin, Elisabeth Masson-Mitéran, died in November 2011 and her heirs subsequently decided to sell. The vineyard is only 5 acres (2 hectares) and around 10 – 12,000 bottles are produced per year.
AFP has reported that there has been an outpouring of anger in France against Ng’s purchase of the property:
“The sale has been attacked by a group of local winemakers who had failed in their own bid to buy the estate as well as by France’s far-right Front National, who believe the state should have intervened to keep the historic building and its vineyards in French hands.”
Jean-Michel Guillon, President of the Winemakers Union of Gevrey-Chambertin told La Revue du Vins de France that they were aware of the sale a year before. The Winegrowers Union that he represents and many other people, including those interested in the heritage of the estate, had set up a project to buy the chateau and install a tourist office and a reception room.
They made an offer of 4 million euros which was refused, and then upped to 5 million euros, which was also refused. The Union have found the sale deplorable and now fear a flood of foreign investors in Burgundy.
In attempt to curb the row Ng has promised to invest heavily in the estate, restore the 12th century chateau, upgrade wine production and employ local French winemakers and craftsmen:
“The chateau will be renovated by a French architect who is known for his work on sites of national heritage across Burgundy.”
“The works themselves will be carried out by regional businesses specialised in working on historic buildings enabling the chateau to be re-established as one of the finest buildings in the Cote d’Or wine region.”
Ng is a top executive for Macau tycoon Stanley Ho’s gambling based empire. He was born and lives in Hong Kong but also holds Portuguese citizenship.
The chateau is not the only one to have been purchased this year by a Chinese businessman – Shi Yi bought 5 acres in Nuits-St-Georges, including 2.4 acres of Vosne-Romanee Champs Perdrix near La Tache in February.