Chinese acquisitions gather pace

According to a recent article published in the Sud Ouest newspaper the number of acquistions of Bordeaux vineyards by Chinese buyers is gathering pace. In addition to the already well publicised sales of Château Latour Laguens (AOC Bordeaux), Château Richelieu (Fronsac), Château de Viaud (Lalande-de-Pomerol), Château Laulan Ducos (Médoc) and Château Chenu Lafitte (Cotes de Bourg) the article lists more than a dozen other estates that have recently changed hands or are in the process of being sold to Asian buyers. Amongst them are four more estates being purchased by Cheng Qu, the billionaire Chinese owner of Château Chenu Lafitte, who is apparently intending to construct a wine theme park in his home province of Dalian. The four estates are: Château Branda (AOC Bordeaux), Château Grand Branet (AOC Cotes de Bordeaux), Château Laurette (AOC Sainte-Croix-du-Mont) and Château Thebot (AOC Bordeaux).

Another Asian owner also expanding his portfolio of Bordeaux vineyards, this time in Saint-Emilion, is Peter Kwok, a Taiwanese businessman who purchased Château Haut-Brisson near the village of Vignonent in 1997. According to the Sud Ouest he has recently purchased Château Tour Saint-Christophe, in the commune of Saint-Christophe-des-Bardes, from Castel, and is also in the process of negotiating a purchase in Lalande-de-Pomerol. On the left bank Château Barateau (AOC Haut-Médoc) in Saint-Laurent is rumoured to be in disucssions with a potential purchaser, thought to be the Marvelke Wine group, while the Dashong group is apparently considering the acquisition of a large estate in Moulis.

Other transactions listed in the article as either concluded or in negotiation include Château Bertranon in Sainte-Croix-du-Mont; Château Monlot in Saint-Emilion, which has just been sold to the Chinese actress Zhao Wei; a Cru Bourgeois (AOC Médoc) in Valeyrac; and three estates in the Entre-Deux-Mers: Château de Cugat near Blasimon (apparently sold to a Chinese collective); Château Blanchet near Massugas (apparently in negotiation with Vast Fortune Limited) and Château Grand Mouëys near Capian.

What these transactions demonstrate, other than the continuning demand from Asian buyers for Bordeaux winemaking estates, is that this demand remains concentrated on relatively low-profile estates located, for the most part, in the less prestigious appellations. The buyers seem to have been attracted as much by the buildings and the setting as by the winemaking credentials of the estate although the number of acquisitions by groups rather than individuals points to the fact that securing an exclusive supply of Bordeaux wine for the Chinese market continues to be a key driver. With few of these estates likely to have changed hands for much in excess of five million Euros the market is still waiting for a major name to pass into Chinese ownership.

Sud Ouest article.

English version (French Wine News).

Alexander Hall