It has just been announced by La Revue du vin de France that Sophie Fourcade has bought 70% of Clos Saint Martin in Saint Emilion, giving her control of the property.
Sophie is a member of the Reiffers family who sold their 3 Saint Emilion chateaux (Clos Saint Martin, Chateau Les Grandes Murailles and Chateau Côte de Baleau) to Matthieu and Philippe Cuvelier, owners of the Saint Emilion Premier Cru Classé B Chateau Clos Fourtet (and also of Chateau Poujeaux in Moulis) earlier this year.
Sophie was director of the family’s chateaux and was saddened by the sale of the family’s properties, explaining that they had to to be sold as she was unable to buy out her siblings who wished to sell their shares.
She did not want to sell the chateaux to a pension fund, insurance company or to an unknown Chinese investor and therefore sought out a buyer closer to home who shared the same spirit of wine making and craftsmanship in order to ensure the 3 chateaux’s future.
Sophie continued to work at the 3 estates under the direction of Cuvelier but she had started to look for a new property of her own. It seems that the Cuveliers came to an arrangement rather than lose Sophie:
“Philippe Cuvelier was surprised because he wanted me to get involved exclusively in the three properties. But he understood my deep attachment to Clos Saint Martin . His interest in the purchase of our properties mainly concerned Les Grandes Murialles and the great development potential of Côte de Baleau.”
Clos Saint Martin and Les Grandes Murailles are closest to Cuvelier’s Clos Fourtet and both are Saint Emilion Grand Cru Classé (and have maintained this rank since 1955 with each subsequent classification).
However one intriguing result from the recent 2012 Saint Emilion Classification was that Chateau Baleau (which was first classified Grand Cru Classé in 1955 but lost its status in 1969) came back into the spotlight from off the radar when it regained its Grand Cru Classé status under the new name of ‘Chateau Côte de Baleau’.
Chateau Côte de Baleau lies in the north east part of Saint Emilion, less than one km from the medieval village and the estate’s vineyards cover 14.90 hectares.
Les Grandes Murailles extends over 2 hectares and is located at the foot of the ruins of the convent of the Dominicans at the old north gate of Saint Emilion. Clos Saint Martin is a tiny vineyard of 1.33 hectares whose origins lie in 1850 and is situated near the church of Saint Martin.
Sophie has said that:
“My ambition is to make Clos Saint Martin the most beautiful jewel in Saint Emilion , not a garage wine but like a great vintage in Burgundy, working the vineyards as a cottage garden, as they were before!”
Investment in replanting, the cellar and the restoration of the adjoining Rectory are programmed for the future and small scale production (5000 bottles) will continue to be vinified by consulting oenologist Michel Rolland.