Quelle horreur! Famed Burgundy château goes to Chinese buyer



A Chinese gambling tycoon has infuriated Burgundy wine producers by buying a château carrying one of the most prestigious names in French wine.

The unnamed businessman, who owns casinos in Macao, has paid €8m, twice the locally estimated value, for the 12th century château de Gevrey-Chambertin and five acres of vines.

Although his purchase represents only a tiny fraction of the 1,000 acres of vines allowed to use the Gevrey-Chambertin title, local wine producers are stunned. Burgundian vineyards are divided into a mosaic of family ownerships going back for centuries. They are seldom sold to outsiders.

Chinese investors have snapped up dozens of châteaux in Bordeaux in recent years but none with names as prestigious as Gevrey-Chambertin. They have never previously bought more than a few small plots in Burgundy.

“It is a despoliation. Our heritage is going out of the window,” said Jean-Michel Guillon, president of the union of Gevrey-Chambertin wine producers. “How would the Chinese feel if a French investor bought 10 metres, or 50 metres, of the Great Wall of China?”

Gevrey-Chambertin is one of two villages in the Côte d'Or vineyards north of Beaune which is allowed to use “Chambertin” in its title. The Chambertin vineyards proper, covering only a few acres, produce one of the most prized and expensive red wines in the world, selling at over €100 a bottle.

Chambertin was one of the favourite drinks of the Emperor Napoleon. The Franco-British humourist and writer Hilaire Belloc (1870-1953) once said that the best day of his life was spent floating down a river with a girlfriend drinking red wine. “I forget the name of the place; I forget the name of the girl; but the wine was Chambertin,” he said.

The Gevrey-Chambertin vineyards, extending over more than 1,000 acres, produce an excellent, but less expensive, red wine. The five acres bought with the château include small plots of the Grand Cru and Premier Cru “Chambertin” vineyards. The rest carries the more generic title Gevrey-Chambertin.

The purchase was completed last May but made public this week. The château and its vines had been owned by a local family for 150 years. The property was valued locally at €3.5m. The wine producers' union offered €5m to stop it falling into foreign hands. The sale was completed for €8m.

The name of the new owner has not been revealed but he is said to have casinos and other gambling interests in Macao. The château produces 12,000 bottles of wine a year, most of which is sold directly from the property itself.

Two Gevrey-Chambertin wine producers have agreed to manage the vineyard.  It remains unclear what the new owner intends to do with the château, which is a listed building.

A growing Chinese taste for French wine, especially Bordeaux, has helped to maintain the price levels of the best French wines in recent years. Despite a slump in the wider wine market, sales of French vineyards have doubled in the last two decades and the average price per hectare has tripled, according to a recent report.  

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
premier league
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
people'I hated him during those times'
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
Dame Vivienne Westwood has been raging pretty much all of her life
peopleMemoir extracts show iconic designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Life and Style
fashionAlexander Fury's Spring/Summer 2015 London Fashion Week roundup
Arts and Entertainment
Lauryn Hill performing at the O2 Brixton Academy last night
musicSinger was more than 90 minutes late on stage in Brixton show
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
people''Women's rights is too often synonymous with man-hating'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
    These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

    Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

    Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

    Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    How to make a Lego masterpiece

    Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

    Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
    Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

    Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

    His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam