Chinese film star Zhao Wei has bought a St Emilion chateau for an undisclosed price.
Although the price Zhao paid for the 7ha Château Monlot has not been revealed, local property agents put it at between €4 and €5m.
Separately, local land agency SAFER (Société d’aménagement foncier et d’établissement rural) said prices per hectare in St Emilion now range from €200,000 to €500,000.
Bottles of Château Monlot currently retail at €22-35.
There are already around a dozen Bordeaux properties in Chinese hands and local newspaper Sud Ouest calculates anything up to 15 sales are in the process of going through.
But Zhao Wei is one of the most glamorous buyers so far. Described by official Chinese news agency, Xinhua, as one of the country’s most popular actresses, her film credits include A Time to Love (2005), Painted Skin (2008), Mulan (2009), and 14 Blades (2010). ‘She is huge in China – the equivalent of Drew Barrymore,’ one Chinese observer told Decanter.com.
Eric Groux, the Director of property agency Conseil Patrimoine, which brokered the Monlot sale, says he has ‘a good dozen’ other Chinese clients currently looking for châteaux in the Bordeaux area.
Breaking news of Zhao Wei’s purchase, Sud Ouest noted that so far Asian buyers are acquiring attractive, mid-range properties rather than big names. It suggested that the new owners have tendency to install their own staff and sell direct to home markets. But this could be changing.
Groux says the actress, also known as Vicki Zhao, will retain existing winemakers and markets.
‘Although it was not a condition of the sale, she will keep the winemaking team in place,’ he said.
He also said she is ready to spend money upgrading Monlot, and although she may start shipping to clients in China, she is unlikely to neglect current clients.
Confirming Monlot’s sale, owner Bernard Rivals said the the star had a ‘soul’ feeling for the property, just as he had when he bought it in 1990.
As well as the château, its garden and vines, the actress also bought existing stocks of Monlot including the vintages 2011 and 2010, which are still in barrels, and bottled wine from the 2008 and 2009 vintage.
Written by Sophie Kevany