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A real estate giant buys the neighbor of Château Haut-Brion

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Patrice Pichet has put the means to afford the Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion.

French real estate magnate Patrice Pichet has bought Château Les Carmes Haut-Brion for 18 million euros, a new record value for vineyards in Bordeaux. The estate includes 11.6 acres of Pessac-Léognan vines (close to the Premier Grand Cru Château Haut-Brion), a 7.4-acre park and a 19th century chateau. It produces 1,600 cases of red wine per year.

"It's very expensive, but it's in the heart of Bordeaux," says Hervé Olivier, director of Safer (Society for land development and rural settlement) in Gironde, which controls all land sales.

Pichet told Wine Spectator he values the house between 2 and 2.4 million euros. Depending on the value of the park, the estimated price for vines of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon would be somewhere between 2 and 3 million euros per hectare (1 ha corresponds to approximately 2.4 acres ).

According to Hervé Olivier, a well-known Pessac-Léognan AOC estate would usually sell for between 195,000 and 490,000 euros per hectare. “We had never seen prices of 3 million euros per hectare before. »

In recent years, these wines have scored 90 points on Wine Spectator's 100-point scale, but only great vintages. Bordeaux connoisseurs call Les Carmes a raw gem. The new owner agrees. “I have a secret hope,” says Pichet. “Several people, owners of great châteaux, have told me that this estate has enormous potential. This wine has a unique identity among Graves wines. The price per hectare is very high, but there is a lot of potential. »

The vines were once part of Haut-Brion and Pichet is only the third owner since the estate was created in 1584, when the owner of Haut-Brion bequeathed the land to Carmelite monks (hence the name of "Carmelites"). After the Revolution, the estate became the property of the ancestors of the Chantecaille-Furt family, who built the castle and the landscaped park.

Pichet, whose private company reported revenues of 406 million euros last year, wasted no time installing state-of-the-art cellars, replacing the exterior wall with a wrought iron gate and changing the postal address to make it the only castle within the limits of the city of Bordeaux.

Stéphane Derenoncourt will remain an oenology advisor. Thierry Rustmann, the former co-owner of Château Talbot and current owner of Château Beau Soleil in Pomerol, will be at the helm for one or two years as a technical consultant.

Although this is Pichet's first chateau acquisition, he is already associated with a real estate agency, Pichet-Rustmann, which is only dedicated to vineyards. Rustmann took over the year-long negotiations with owner Didier Furt and his family. Furt and his wife owned 60% of the estate, the rest belonging to other family members for whom the sale was not unanimous. Auctions with the Dillon family, owner of Château Haut-Brion, have increased prices.

If the president of Haut-Brion, Prince Robert of Luxembourg, had won the game, the vines would have been absorbed by Haut-Brion and the wine would have been sold as a Premier Grand Cru. "I can understand that Haut-Brion could consider paying so much for this land, it's linked to the price of their wine," said Hervé Olivier. “Pichet's wine will have to sell very well for him to be able to profit from his investment. »

Source: Suzanne Mustacich
Wine Spectator
Jan 19, 2011

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