Louis Latour has bought Beaujolais producer Maison Henry Fessy for an undisclosed sum.
The Beaune-based Burgundy wine producer and negociant says it has a long term interest in Beaujolais, which it feels is currently undervalued and under supported by negociant houses.
‘We know the region well and we sell a number of its wines,’ said Louis-Fabrice Latour, seventh generation descendant of Louis Latour’s founders and current CEO, who signed the deal on 7 January.
We consider the wines of Beaujolais to be very close to ours. If you taste a seven to eight year-old Gamay you will find it is hard to tell the difference between that and a Pinot Noir,’ he said.
Both Latour and Fessy are longstanding, family run businesses with much in common. The sale agreement will leave the identity and day to day management of Fessy, which produces about 2m bottles of wine a year, in the hands of Henry Fessy, a descendant of the original 1888 founders.
Latour, which sells around 8m bottles of wine a year and last year turned over €55m (£41.5m), was founded almost 100 years earlier, in 1797.
However, despite similarities between the producers, the current business climate in the two wine regions is very different.
‘There is a disaffection with Beaujolais at the moment, and morale is not good there,’ Latour said adding that the recent 15% decrease in Beaujolais Nouveau sales in 2007 had not helped. ‘There is also a lack of negociants – in Burgundy things are much more dynamic.’
It is expected Fessy – well known in French restaurants and for its high quality Brouilly production – will particularly benefit in export terms, giving it access to Latour’s worldwide sales network.
Written by Sophie Kevany