Magrez buys in Chile, sells in France

  • Tuesday 11 March 2008

Bernard Magrez has bought 200 hectares in Chile – and sold three Bordeaux AOC estates.

The former director of drinks producer William Pitters, and current owner of Chateau Pape Clement and more than 30 other wine estates, has a stated strategy of concentrating on high-end wines.

Magrez intends to produce between 100,000 and 150,000 bottles per year, he told French news agency, AFP, of his new estate in the Colchagua Valley, 120km south of the capital Santiago.

Magrez’s director of Latin America operations and winemaker for the new estate, Eric Bardon, said as yet no vines exist on the estate.

‘We will plant Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah and Carmenere,’ he told decanter.com, describing the terroir as granite mixed with clay and sand.

The wine from the estate will be called Hacienda de la Serenidad, the name of an existing 4ha estate already owned by Magrez in the same commune of Yaquil. The first Hacienda de la Serenidad vintage was in 2005, using grapes bought from neighbouring estates, Bardon said.

‘The most important part of the new estate,’ Bardon said, ‘is its position, which benefits from the cool Pacific Ocean air, preserving the wine’s freshness.’

The Colchagua Valley is known as one of the best growing areas in the country, and, although Magrez would not say what he had paid, average prices in the area are said to be about €17,000 per hectare of vines.

There are already some serious operators in the region. ‘It is one of the most interesting terror's in Chile,’ said Viviana Vecchione, spokesperson for Jacques and Francois Lorton, Bordeaux growers who own about 50ha in the same area.

In France, Magrez is in the process of selling three generic AOC Bordeaux estates - Bois Pertuis, Bois Chantant and Haut Mouleyre - to Grands Chais de France, in keeping with his strategy of concentrating on high end wines.

The tycoon, whose company turns over about €40m a year, did not rule out other sales in France. He reported to have recently bought a 12th century abbey near to one of his Spanish estates in Toro.

After sales in France and the acquisition in Chile, Magrez has 32 estates in total, 18 in Bordeaux, six in Languedoc Roussillon and eight outside France – two in Chile, two in Spain, and one each in Argentina, Morocco, Portugal and Uruguay.

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