Alex Gambal, proprietor of Beaune negociant Maison Gambal, has purchased vines within a Montrachet Grand Cru – becoming the first non-Frenchman to own land in a Montrachet site
Gambal has bought the land from Philippe Brenot of Domaine Brenot in Santenay for an undisclosed sum: the deal comprises 3.5ha of vines in Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, and Santenay.
Gambal, who was Brenot’s student at Beaune’s wine school from 1996-1997, started his negociant business in 1998. Originally from Washington DC, he is described in Decanter by Stephen Brook as having ‘patiently created a small, high-quality négociant company. Whites and reds are equally good, and prices are moderate’.
For his latest project he gathered a group of friends and investors from the US and UK as well as ‘a modest amount of bank financing’ to put the deal together.
The Bâtard-Montrachet parcels, called Les Bâtards Montrachet, can produce up to 7.5 barrels of wine (187 cases).
The parcel of Puligny-Montrachet, Les Enseiginères, covers 0.3ha and is classified as a village wine but because of its preeminence is often referred to as ‘baby Bâtard’.
The Chassagne-Montrachet vineyard, of less than one tenth of a hectare, is called L’Ormeau. Gambal also acquired a house on the Santenay town square which will be rented out.
Gambal intends to convert the land to biodynamic immediately ‘using no tractors, plowed with a horse, with all spraying to be done by hand,’ he told Decanter.com.
He will not change his distribution patterns – at present a quarter of his business is within France with the rest exported to US, UK, Russia, Australia, and Asia.
Written by David Furer