Château Matras, the Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé estate, has been sold to neighbouring Premier Grand Cru Classé, Château Canon, according to the Sud Ouest newspaper. The 12 hectare vineyard has belonged to the Bernard family since 1962 and was reportedly sold for eight million Euros, including the buildings. This would value the vines at approximately 600,000 Euros per hectare, which would seem to be a very fair price for such a well-situated Cru Classé vineyard that can also count Château Angélus amongst its neighbours. In fact the Wertheimers, Canon’s owners, could be seen to have done a very good deal in the light of the ten million Euros the de Bouard family allegedly spent in 2007 acquiring 50% of nearby Château Bellevue, which has only six hectares of vines.
Not for the first time it was the French system of forced heirship resulting in shared ownership amongst multiple siblings that forced a sale. According to the Sud Ouest, Véronique Gaboriaud-Bernard, who had run the estate for more than 30 years, was against the decision of her two sisters to sell the estate. Based on the sale price she would have had to raise over five million Euros if she had wanted to buy them out.
According to Château Canon’s director, John Kolasa, Château Matras was of interest because it is a neighbouring estate and will allow them to produce more of their second wine, Clos Canon (implying that the Matras name may be lost). Since its purchase by the Wertheimer family in 1996 much of Château Canon’s 22 hectares of vines have been replanted, leading to a plentiful supply of fruit from young vines that was not of sufficient quality for the grand vin and was thus used to produce Clos Canon. Although this replanting programme is still underway the goal is that the entire production of the Château Canon vineyard will eventually be of grand vin quality, hence the desire to source fruit for Clos Canon from elsewhere.