Abramovich eyes Italian property

  • Tuesday 20 September 2005

Chelsea boss Roman Abramovich looks set to add to his global empire by buying a Tuscan wine estate.

Abramovich, whose personal fortune has been estimated at around £7.7bn (US$14bn), was recently seen walking the grounds of top Italian wineries Ornellaia, Sassicaia and Lungarotti.

The 35-year-old teetotal billionaire, owner of Chelsea football club as well as a vast Russian petroleum company, a TV station, a hockey team and other holdings, is reported to be hunting out an iconic Tuscan estate to go with his two west London flats, Sussex estate and St Tropez villa.

According to reports, he has put £10m (US$18m) to one side in order to snap up a winery and surrounding grounds.

First stop on the tour was the Lungarotti estate, in Torgiano – for a visit that was purely for pleasure, Chiara Lungarotti said. ‘The purpose of his visit was a wine and food holiday tour of Umbria and Maremma in Tuscany. We had a great day together.‘

The party drank Lungarotti’s Rubesco Riserva and Sangiorgio, both from the 2000 vintage.

The following day Abramovich and his entourage, which included former KGB bodyguards, visited the renowned Ornellaia estate at Bolgheri, where they were greeted by boss Leonardo Raspini.

‘Abramovich and his friends are keen wine buffs,’ said Raspini. ‘They visited the estate and vineyards, followed by a tasting of the 2002 Serre Nuove, Le Volte and Ornellaia.’

Lunch was accompanied by vintages 1998, 2000 and 2001 of Ornellaia and a Masseto 2000.

The last call before flying off to the South of France was Sassicaia, also in Bolgheri, to meet managing director Sebastiano Rosa. A tasting of Sassicaia 2002 and Guido Alberto 2003 was followed by a visit of the estate.

Whether the Russian oligarch is interested in winemaking or simply looking for a holiday home is a moot point. ‘Mr Abramovich said he wanted somewhere that had a large house as well, because he wanted to entertain and to come here on holiday,’ one of his hosts said.

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