Magrez looks to Spain, Croatia, England

  • Tuesday 4 November 2008

Spain has more potential than France, globe-trotting wine magnate Bernard Magrez has told decanter.com.

Magrez hopes to add vineyards in Italy, Spain and Croatia to his burgeoning portfolio of properties – and he still wants to produce wine in England.

The Bordeaux-based entrepreneur, 72, owns Château Pape-Clément in Pessac-Léognan and has a roster of 35 vineyards and ventures around the world, including in Languedoc-Roussillon, Priorat and Toro in Spain, Chile, Argentina, Morocco, Portugal, Uruguay, the Napa Valley and Japan.

The majority of his properties are in Bordeaux or Languedoc-Roussillon, but he told decanter.com that, for him, Spain has more future potential than France.

‘Spain is in front of France. It is richer, with greater diversity and high quality,’ Magrez said, expressing particular interest in the Jumilla DO.

He has already ruled out buying in Burgundy, where he said the vineyards are ‘too small’, and in Champagne – ‘it’s a matter of money – and you need six or seven years of stock’.

With the help of his friend and consultant Michel Rolland, Magrez has put Bolgheri in Italy at the top of his shopping list.

‘We’ve been looking in the Maremma, but it’s too easy to find average terroir.’

Magrez has not worked in Italy since an abortive venture into Chianti 10 years ago. ‘I made a mistake when I chose the vineyard,’ he admitted. ‘Three years afterwards, I sold it.’

He is also fascinated by the white wines of Croatia, although he is not yet close to making an acquisition there – and has reasserted his wish to work in England, preferably in a joint venture with a local producer to make still white wine in Kent.

‘I often say, if there’s someone out there who’s interested, it could be very good,’ he said. ‘We have two options: knock on the door of one of the existing producers, or buy some hectares ourselves.’

But Magrez admitted that his collection of vineyards is nearing its limit. ‘Our project is to find in every country the very, very good terroir, maybe in a great appellation,’ he said. ‘Financially it’s not a problem to keep buying, but I think the maximum number of properties is about 40.’

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