The sale of Chateau Bellefont-Belcier to a Chinese industrialist, as reported in the Sud Ouest, is particularly significant as it is the first sale of a Grand Cru Classé estate to a Chinese buyer. Although there have been numerous acquisitions of Bordeaux vineyards by Chinese buyers in the last few years, to date none of the properties has been classified and most have been relatively low profile estates. It was no secret that Chateau Bellefont-Belcier was on the market and it does not come as a surprise that the buyer waited until after the annoncement of the new Saint-Emilion classification to conclude the transaction (NB I understand that the deal has been signed but not closed).
Chateau Bellefont-Belcier has 13 hectares of vines, which are planted “en pied de cote”, the lower part of the south facing slopes of Saint-Emilion. Other nearby estates planted on similar terroir include Chateau Larcis Ducasse and Chateau Pavie, although the Bellefont-Belcier vineyards are perhaps less well-exposed being in a slight bowl that is also surrounded by trees. The grape plantings are a classic Saint-Emilion blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon. The cellars, while not particularly modern, are built into the hillside and have a harvest reception area above the level of the tanks thus allowing for gravity filling. The vats themesleves are concrete and arranged in a circle so well adapted to current winemaking practices. One Bordeaux critic familiar with the wines commented that he was sad to see the property sold to a Chinese investor as the wines represented excellent value for money and he feared that they might now either increase in price or cease to be available outside China. Only time will tell…
The same article also publicised the recent sale of three other estates to Chinese buyers: Chateau Lucas in Cotes de Castillon, which has been sold to a Chinese architect named Wencheng Li; Chateau Pey Berland in Moulis, which is better known for its hotel than its vineyard (there is just one hectare of vines) and has been sold to businessman Fu Hao; and Chateau Millaud-Montlabert, a 3.6 hectare estate in Saint-Emilion that has been added to the growing collection of estates in Bordeaux belonging to the Haichang Group.
The flow of deals involving Chinese buyers shows no signs of letting up in the short term so expect more deals to be announced in the coming months.