Four Bordeaux Chateaux have been sold to two Chinese brothers Yi and Hongtao Zhu who have established a new group to encompass their holdings named Bordeaux Vinéam. The Zhus live between Hong Kong and British Columbia in Canada and made their fortune in pharmaceuticals. They already own vineyards in Chianti, Tuscany and the organic 106 acre estate Chateau La Salagre in Pomport, Bergerac (east of Bordeaux).
The four estates the Zhus purchased in Bordeaux are Chateaux Moulin à Vent (AOC Moulis, 56 acres), Vieux Coutelin (AOC Saint-Estèphe, 24 acres), Bourdicotte (AOC Bordeaux, 260 acres) and Grand Ferrand (AOC Bordeaux, 197 acres). This brings the total number of acres owned by the Zhus in France to over 600 acres.
Chateau Moulin à Vent was sold to the Zhus by the Hessel family who had owned the estate since 1977. The chateau’s name comes from the appellation it stands in, Moulis (which comes from Moulin, meaning windmill).
The chateau building itself is Chartreuse in style, dating back to the early 19th century. Moulin à Vent is a Cru Bourgeois and has a second wine, Chateau Moulin de St Vincent. Around 160,000 bottles are produced a year.
The other 3 estates were sold by the RCR Group to the Zhu brothers. The RCR Group has been selling a number of its chateaux recently (last week I wrote about the sale of Chateau Pontet Chappaz to the Margaux Fourth Growth Chateau Prieure Lichine).
It appears that the RCR Group are maintaining a core group of estates around Saint Emilion (under the new direction of Peter Wolter) – at one point they had 23 chateaux representing 1364 acres of vineyards across Bordeaux. The company got into hot water several years ago (when run by Belgian trader Robert Geens) with allegations of fraud and doctoring wines (dragging Hanna Agostini of Parker’s Wine Advocate into the fracas to boot) so perhaps its reshuffle has resulted in an asset sale?
The 3 chateaux sold by the RCR Group to the Zhus have plenty of potential. Chateau Vieux Coutelin is a Cru Bourgeois Saint Estephe that produces 40,000 bottles a year.
Chateau Bourdicotte lies in Cazaugitat in the Entre Deux Mers and produces 180,00 bottles of white wine and 500,000 bottles of red a year, including AOC Bordeaux Superieur. The vineyards lie on the slopes of the Butte de Launay, the highest point in the Gironde. Chateau Grand Ferrand is located in Sauveterre de Guyenne and produces 155,000 bottles of white wine and 440,000 bottles of red a year (Bordeaux Superieur).
David Tabacznyj, who is in charge of the Zhu brother’s investments in Europe told the Sud Ouest paper that:
“This is a personal investment for the Zhu brothers, who recently discovered wine . They already have in mind the sales channels in China for part of the production.”
He also said that the sales had gone smoothly with no upsets at the chateaux concerned and although the Zhu borthers did not speak French, one of the daughters of the two is already learning the language.