Maison Henri Maire has completed a deal to buy the wine holdings of Burgundy’s Cottin Freres, shrugging off concerns over a pre-existing fraud investigation involving some its newly-acquired assets.
Vines in Morey-Saint-Denis. Image: Laboure-Roi
Jura-based Henri Maire said this week that it completed the deal at the end of September. It paid an estimated EUR11m (US$14.75m) for the Cottin Freres holdings, including commercial brands Labouré-Roi and Nicolas Potel, plus wine stocks and winemaking equipment, plus a further EUR1.9m for buildings belonging to the two négociant houses.
The newly created umbrella company, to be known as Domaines Henri Maire, is set to have annual sales of around EUR50m in 2014, with 45% from exports 40% from direct sales.
The acquired companies will keep their existing trading names in day-to-day business.
Henri Maire’s president, Patrick Coupier, told decanter.com that the group was not alarmed by a scandal that surrounded Labouré-Roi last year, when a state-led probe saw four of its directors accused of various counts of fraud, primarily involving mislabelling of lower quality bottles as Grands Crus and Premiers Crus. No charges have been brought to date.
‘Firstly, there is a presumption of innocence, and the vast majority of their clients have remained utterly loyal,’ said Coupier.
‘And, we have not bought Cottin Freres, but its assets and ongoing businesses. The reason for the purchase is very simple. These are fantastic companies with great exports and strong brands.
‘The distribution network will give us a 30-year boost in export markets, and improve our access to international markets for the wines of Jura.’
Around 60% of the new company’s wines will come from Burgundy and 20% from the Jura, with the rest a mix from elsewhere.
‘Henri Maire has been in the hands of financial institutions since 2010, after difficult years following the 2003 death of Henri Maire,’ said Jura expert Wink Lorch. ‘The company has said that it would make much needed investments into the production side of its Jura wines, but it seems to be focusing its investments elsewhere.’
In April this year, Maison Henri Maire acquired an 80% stake in Burgundy’s Dufouleur Pere et Fils Distribution. Still, Henri Maire is also the largest landowner in the Jura appellation, with 300 hectares.
Written by Jane Anson