The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing – Chateau Béhèré, in Coveted Pauillac Location, Sold to Lorenzetti

Chateau Béhèré in Pauillac has been purchased by Jacky Lorenzetti who recently acquired a 50% stake in Chateau d’Issan (Margaux). Lorenzetti already owns Chateaux Lilian Ladouys (Saint Estephe) and Pédesclaux and Haut Milon (Pauillac) – both of which are near Béhèré.

His purchase of Chateau Béhèré is a very astute move – as this little chateau with a wolf’s head depicted on its label is in a prime location. It is perfectly situated on parcels of vines nestling between the First Growths Chateaux LatourLafite Rothschild,

and Mouton Rothschild as well as neighbouring Chateaux Pontet Canetd’ArmailhacLynch Bages and Pichon Comtesse. The property stands opposite the entrance to Mouton Rothschild.

Béhèré was owned by Jean-Gabriel and Anne-Marie Camou who sold the property as they wished to retire and have no heir. It seems that only the vineyard has been sold to Lorenzetti, not the winery or the stock.

Camou had been working in viticulture since 1977 (partly at Lynch Bages) and purchased his first vines in 1987. He inherited more from his father and uncle in 1988. In 1989, a winemaker, who did not want to sell to the ‘big boys’ around him sold Camou a landlocked parcel by Chateau Duhart Milon at 20 francs per square metre.

Camou recalls that when he went to see the lawyer, he was asked if he wanted to sell it straight away . . . for double the price he paid. Unable to afford a winery, Camou sold his first harvests to the Baroness Philippine de Rothschild and the juice was incorporated into Chateau Clerc Milon.

He gave his wine its own identity when he created his winery in 1994 and Chateau Béhèré was born. The wolfs head on the label is in remembrance of a small Basque village named Camou (meaning wolf), the family’s birthplace.

So strategically placed are Camou’s vines that most Bordeaux insiders thought Chateau Béhèré would be snapped up by one of its neighbours. Camou certainly has had plenty of offers over the years, Béhèré being much coveted.

He told the Sud Ouest paper he would like to pass the baton on in 2010, reasoning that the interest in his little property from more prestigious chateaux was that the big estates needed to invest to reduce their taxation.

Chateau Béhèré produces around 33,000 bottles of wine from nearly 5 hectares of vines and has a Second Wine named Chateau Béhèré Courtin. In the 19th century Béhèrébelonged to the Count Ferrand, owner of Chateau Marquis d’ Armailhac.

It disappeared when Baron Philippe de Rothschild purchased the chateau and was revived by Camou when he acquired the parcel of vines.

Béhèré is the only chateau in Pauillac to be classified as a Cru Artisan (awarded in 2006). The classification of the Crus Artisans du Medoc is an old one, dating back further than the 1855 Classification of the Grand Cru Classés.

There are 50 Crus Artisans in total and the classification is renewed every 10 years. To classify as Cru Artisan the estates must be family businesses that cultivate their own grapes, make, market and sell their own wines. The estates are small and tend to be around 6 hectares (14.8 acres) in size.

Attaining Cru Artisan status is an explicit recognition of the wine maker’s exceptional craftsmanship and passionate dedication to his land, vines and wines.

This little chateau is most definitely a wolf in sheep’s clothing, having tremendous potential lurking behind its humble exterior.

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