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China comes to Bordeaux.

John U. Salvi checked, which Chateaux will be sold to Chinese.

It was a rumor since years, Chinese buy Bordeaux. And they bought. A lot of bottles, and this was pretty good though, because otherwise the crisis would have reached Bordeaux, too. But in the meantime some Chinese bought not only the wine, but the whole Properties.

China comes to Bordeaux.
Mr. Jin Shan Zhang in front of Château du Grand Mouëys.
Hintergrund


When the Russian economy was at its peak we expected a wave of purchasers eager to acquire Bordeaux vineyards and Châteaux. This never really happened.

When the Japanese economy was going through its boom period we expected the same, but with two important exceptions this never really became fact. The two exceptions are a 50% shareholding of Château Beychevelle, Fourth Grand Cru Classé, Saint-Julien, as well as Société Grands Millésimes de France, jointly with Castel, and the acquisition and magnificent restoration of Château Lagrange, Fourth Grand Cru Classé, Saint Julien, by Suntory.

Now it is the turn of the Chinese and this time they are not letting us down. So far I have traced about 18 vineyard properties that have been purchased by them and I know that there are others. Up to the present no Classed Growths have been purchased and most of the acquisitions have been relatively little known names, or at least names without great international fame. Many of the purchases, but very much not all, have been low key and without publicity and this makes them difficult to know about in the massive jungle of Bordeaux’s over 7,000 properties. There are notable exceptions, highly publicised purchases, as we shall see.
For the Chinese it is in many ways more interesting and advantageous to purchase a lesser known property than a Grand Cru. The reason is simple. A large company with a powerful sales force and/or innumerable points of sale can market the entirety of a property without too much effort. If this is a lesser known property then the wine will not be greatly missed on the rest of the world markets, even where it has been sold in the past. If it is a Classed Growth on the other hand then it has established markets all over the world and it would be almost impossible, and certainly disastrous, to take all ,or even most, of the wine to China and cease to supply its regular markets. It would create ill feeling, cause distress and ultimately ruin the reputation of the property.

Here are the properties that I have found.

Here are the properties that I have found.
Château Loudenne.


CHÂTEAU, LOUDENNE, Saint Yzans de Medoc:

Absolutely hot off the press and not yet signed is the purchase of the famous Château Loudenne right in the north of the Medoc. This magnificent property, often called the “pink château”, has a view of the river Gironde. It belonged to the famous Gilbey family, of Gilbey’s gin, for over 100 years. They finally sold it to International Distillers and Vintners, who in a fit of aberration sold it to the Lafragette family, famous for the potent Alizé, a mixture of cognac and exotic fruit juices. Monsieur Lafragette got into trouble with the law about fraud and had to part with Alizé. Things have not gone well with him since and it comes as no surprise that he has had to sell.

Under the IDV ownership Loudenne was almost my second home and its potential for quality wine is fabulous. This will be perhaps the most important Chinese purchase so far.

A recent purchase, or it was when I wrote this article a few days ago, is Château du Grand Mouëys in Capian, Entre Deux Mers. This has been bought by Jin Shan Zhang. Propitiously this means “mountain of gold”. It is a sizeable property of 170 hectares with 58 of them planted with vines and in production. There is a fine neo-gothic Château and a vast park. It would be unthinkable for the Chinese to purchase a property without a Château, or at least a gracious mansion, as this is very much part of the kudos of ownership. In this case, as we shall see, there are grand plans for Grand Mouëys!

I am spending a lot of time talking about this particular property because M. Zhang gave a major Press Conference to make public both his purchase and his plans. M. Zhang is a 58 year old entrepreneur on a very considerable scale. He is the founder and owner of the NingXia Company in the Province of NingXia and in Hong Kong, founded in 1996. He employs 1,200 staff and is the largest producer in China of GOUQI alcohol with 30 million bottles per year and a turnover of 100 million Euros. He also owns a property company, a travel agency, a printing company and is in the restaurant business. Gouqi berries have become very popular in Europe due to their much vaunted health properties. They are also known as Goji berry, wolfberry, Mede berry, Barbary matrimony vine, bocksdorn, Duke of Argyll's tea tree, Murali (in India) red medlar and matrimony vine. NingXia Province is the world’s largest producer. Strange though it may seem it belongs to the same family, Solanaceae, as the potato, the eggplant, the tomato, the chili pepper, tobacco and deadly nightshade!

This gentleman has important plans for Château du Grand Mouëys. Firstly, and most importantly, he intends to improve the quality of the wine without changing the style. He will then use 700 employees to market the wine in China in supermarkets, hotels, restaurants, wine bars, wine shops and night clubs. As he claims that he has 300,000 sales points in China, absorbing 90% of the production of 58 hectares of vines should prove an easy task for such a dynamic entrepreneur. The former owner; the German Herr Bömers, was present at the Press Conference and declared himself delighted with the proposed future for his wine and his property.

However this is by no means the totality of the ambitious plans outlined. He intends to transform the present Château into a small luxury hotel and to create and open a luxury Chinese Restaurant. He also says that he can envisage buying other properties in Bordeaux and elsewhere, creating a Négociant Company and eventually selling Chinese wine in France. He has some knowledge of vineyards, having 70 hectares in NingXia and another 700 hectares there which he hopes to plant in due course.

As for NingXia, Zhang’s home Province, Ningxia wines are a promising area of development. It is China’s third viticultural area after Shandong and Hebei. The Chinese authorities have given approval to the development of the eastern base of the Helan Mountains as an area suitable for wine production. Several large Chinese wine companies, including Changyu and Dynasty Wine, have begun development in the western region of the province. Together they now own 20,000 acres of land for wine plantations and Dynasty has ploughed 100 million yuan into Ningxia. In addition, the major oil company, China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, has founded a grape planation near the Helan Mountains. The household appliance company Midea has also begun participating in Ningxia's wine industry.

In the meantime it's around 30 Properties.

In the meantime it's around 30 Properties.
Château Latour-Laguens.


Having spent so much time on Château Loudenne and Château du Grand Mouëys let us look at some of the other Chinese purchases:

CHÂTEAU DE VIAUD, Lalande de Pomerol:

This was a high profile purchase of 20 hectares in 2011. Sold by Philippe Raoux, owner of Château d’Arsac, to COFCO, China’s largest agro-alimentary company and largest wine producer as the owner of Great Wall.

CHÂTEAU DE LA SALLE, Blaye:

bought by Zhingai Real Estate in 2011. This was an unhappy purchase and the seller as well as the buyer accuse each other of dishonesty

CHÂTEAU LATOUR-LAGUENS, Saint Martin de Puy, Entre-Deux-Mers:

Bought already in 2008 by Longhai International. Probably the first Chinese purchase.

CHÂTEAU RICHELIEU, Fronsac:

In 2009 the Chinese company Hong Kong A&A International bought a majority shareholding in this property, which was the former home of the mistress of the famous Cardinal Richelieu and has a history dating back to the time of Charlemagne.

Some more...

Some more...
Château Chenu-Lafitte.


CHÂTEAU CHENU LAFITTE, Côtes de Bourg:

In 2010 this was bought for some 10 million Euros and is being run by Guolong Yin for the owner CHENG QU who now owns 5 properties in the Bordeaux area.

CHÂTEAU LEZONGARS, Villenave de Rions:

Sold by the English owners Philip and Sarah Iles to an undisclosed Chinese purchaser. Vineyards in the Entre Deux Mers and also Premières Côtes de Bordeaux.

CHÂTEAU ROQUES ROUGE:

basically part of LEZONGARS and part of the same sale.

CHÄTEAU GRAND BRANET, AOC Bordeaux:

Sold by Manvielle and is yet another property acquired by Cheng Qu.

CHÂTEAU BRANDA, Fronsac:

Bought during quite a high profile purchase by the billionaire CHENG QU.

CHÂTEAU LAURETTE, Saint Croix du Mont:

Another property bought by CHENG QU.

CHÂTEAU THEBOT, Saint André et Appelles, AOC Bordeaux, near Sainte Foy:

Another property bought by CHENG QU. This gentleman created FRANCE’S LAMONT WINERY GROUP for all his properties. An article published in DALIAN states: “France’s Lamont Winery Group owns five chateaux in France: Chateau Chenu Lafitte, Chateau Branda, Chateau De Grand Branet, Chateau Laurette and Chateau Bab. Each chateau has a history of over 100 to 400 years and the company occupies an area of greater than 340 hectares. In December 211 the Administrative Committee of Dalian Free Trade Zone, Dalian Haichang Group and France’s Lamont Winery Group invested three billion yuan in the establishment of the first wine industrial park in Dalian.

CHÄTEAU LAROCHE PRESSAC, Côtes de Castillon :

This I have only just been informed about by Christies International Real Estate, but as yet have no knowledge about the purchaser.

CHÂTEAU BAB:

This Château is mentioned in the above paragraph, in the China Dalian International Wine and Dine Festival publicity. I am unable to trace Château BAB anywhere in Bordeaux. It is possible that BAB is a misprint of Chateau Baby, in Pineuilh, Sainte Foy La Grande.

I firmly expect another 20 purchases before the end of 2012!

 I firmly expect another 20 purchases before the end of 2012!
Château Richelieu.


CHÂTEAU MONLOT:

Another high profile sale as it was acquired with much publicity by the famous actress ZHAO WEI.

CHÂTEAU LAULAN-DUCLOS:

A 20 hectares property purchased in 2011 by RICHARD SHEN DONGJUN of the well-known jewellery chain TESIRO.

CHÂTEAU LE VIROU, Premières Côtes de Blaye:

Not strictly a Chinese purchase but bought many years ago, back in 1992, by a THAI wine enthusiast.

CHÂTEAU HAUT BRISSON, Saint Emilion:

This was bought by a gentleman holding Taiwanese nationality by the name of PETER KWOK, who lives in Hong Kong and whose parents were Chinese. If it is true that he bought in 1997 this would make the first purchase by a very long way.

CHÂTEAU TOUR SAINT CHRISTOPHE, Saint Emilion:

Also purchased by Peter V. Kwok (as Haut Brisson above) of USI Partners Limited.

CHÂTEAU BARATEAU, Haut Medoc:

This property, near Château Lagrange, was bought in 2011 by the MARVELKE WINE GROUP.

CHÂTEAU LA TOUR BLANCHE:

This great Sauternes property is founding an oenological school in Beijing jointly with Chinese ownership.

DBR:

As we all know Domaines Baron de Rothschild is planting vines in Shandong but as yet no wine has been produced. It is a joint venture with CVTIC, a State Owned Investment Company.

There will be more properties bought in the near future, that is certain, and I will try to follow them as they happen. I am in close touch with Christies International Real Estate, who is the leading agency for the sales and purchases of vineyard properties in the Bordeaux region.

Text: John U. Salvi, MW.
Photos: From the websides or directly by the Chateaux.
© by Helmut Knall
last modified: 2012-11-08 06:08:59

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