by Ian Blackshaw
The announcement on 24 August that a Chinese gambling tycoon from Macao has bought the twelfth century Chateau of Gevrey-Chambertin and its surrounding five acres of vineyards (the purchase was actually completed in May) has sent shock waves throughout the centuries old closely-knit family-controlled Burgundy wine producing community. Quelle horreur!
To add insult to their injury and to secure his purchase, he outbid the locals by offering €8 million, twice the locally estimated value of this prestigious wine property.
Although this purchase represents a small part of the 1,000 acres of vineyards that enjoy the right to use the protected name (DOC) of Gevrey-Chambertin, the Chateau of Gevrey-Chambertin vineyards, which produce some 12,000 bottles per annum, do include some plots producing Grand Cru and Premier Cru wine, bottles of which sell for €100 or more.
The local vignerons have described the deal as an attack on their heritage. Their spokesman has likened the transaction to a purchase by the French of part of the Great Wall of China! Posing the question rhetorical question: what would the Chinese think of that?
I suppose that they fear that other purchases by the Chinese, who are into French red wine, especially bordelais chateau produced and bottled wine (for example, the excellent wine from the Chateau of Richelieu in the Fronsac wine region, which I have previously written about!) are bound to follow, despite the fact that the Chinese economy is reputedly shrinking somewhat!
The deal has certainly put the Gallic nose out of joint, although it is not expected that any harm will be done to the quality of Gevrey-Chambertin as a result of this Chinese investment. Perhaps the French should get real and realise that we are living in a global economy.
I wonder what my late mother-in-law, who loved France, French food and wine, especially Geverey-Chambertin, which was her favourite tipple and, incidentally, was also that of the Emperor Napoleon, would have thought of this development!