Jean-Guillaume Prats, the director of Chateau Cos d’Estournel, is leaving the chateau that is so closely associated with his name.
Jean-Guillaume Prats: ‘New challenge’ [Image: Colin Hampden-White, greatestwinemakers.com]
Michel Reybier, the owner of the celebrated St Estephe second growth, sent a letter to Bordeaux négociants today, Monday, announcing that as of January 2013, Prats will be leaving to take on a ‘new professional challenge’.
Reybier’s letter says, ‘I want to thank him as well as the whole team of Cos d’Estournel, for the excellent job done all these years, and wish him every success for the future.’
Prats will remain at Cos to oversee the 2012 harvest, before handing over to Reybier and his long-term collaborator Christophe Ranger.
Ranger has worked with the Reybier businesses for many years, including as president and CEO of Pebercan oil and gas company, which has now ceased trading.
Michel Reybier bought Chateau Cos d’Estournel in 2000 from the Merlaut family, owners of the Taillan Group, which in their turn had bought it two years before from Bruno Prats, grandson of negociant Fernand Ginestet.
Jean-Guillaume Prats, son of the previous owner Bruno Prats, was asked to stay on after the sale, and become CEO, at less than 30 one of the youngest chief executives in Bordeaux.
At the time, in November 2000, he told Decanter.com he was pleased with the sale: ‘I find it extremely constructive for Bordeaux,’ he said. ‘It is reassuring that wealth from abroad continues to be invested in the region.’
During his tenure Prats established Cos d’Estournel as one of the pre-eminent estates in Bordeaux, not only a super-second but – in price at least – frequently stealing the ground from under the feet of the first growths.
Even more frequently, its opulent, exotic style divided the critics.
Cos’s 2009 vintage was a case in point. At up to €300 a bottle one of the most expensive wines of the vintage, it was described by Robert Parker as ‘one of the greatest young wines I have ever tasted’, but Steven Spurrier for Decanter was slightly less impressed, saying it would ‘take years to pick up finesse’, and Jancis Robinson said it reminded her of Pavie 2003, which at the time she had called ‘porty’ and ‘ridiculous’.
Merchants however never fall out of love with Cos. Of the 2009, Simon Staples of Berry Bros said the price was ‘reassuringly expensive’ and ‘bonkers’. Asked if it would sell, he replied simply, ‘HAS sold’.
Prats has not so far said what his ‘new professional challenge’ will be.
Michel Reybier is also owner of La Réserve hotels and Spas in Geneva and Paris, Tokaj Hetszolo and wine ecommerce business Vins & Privileges.
Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux, and Adam Lechmere