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Chateau Carmes Haut-Brion sold for record sum

Château Carmes Haut-Brion in Bordeaux has been bought for €18m – a record price.

The property, in the Pessac-Léognan region, was bought by Patrice Pichet, head of Bordeaux real estate company Groupe Pichet. This is his first vineyard purchase.

Pichet reportedly paid €18m for the chateau in November 2010 from owners Didier Chantecaille-Furt and his daughter Penelope.

The vineyard is located close to Château Haut Brion (the two estates shared the same owner, Jean de Pontac, for part of the 16th century).

Berry Bros describes Carmes as ‘a jewel of a property, positioned on the same bank of gravel (graves) as its more famous namesakes’. The 2009, which sells for £450 per case, was awarded four stars by Decanter at en primeur.

Steven Spurrier, tasting the wine, praised its ‘concentrated and rather earthy blackcurrant nose, good broad fruit with warmth and vigour’ its acids and its ‘fleshy charm’.

Its vines today cover 4.7ha, with a further 3 hectares of parkland. This means the sale price equates to €3.8m per hectare – which according to local paper Sud Ouest is the highest amount ever paid per hectare for a vineyard in Bordeaux, even taking into account that some of that price will have been paid for the adjoining park, and attractive 19th century chateau.

Typically, vineyards change hands in the most prestigious appellations such as Pauillac or St Emilion for around €1m per hectare, and up to €1.5m in exceptional cases.

In 2007, Martin and Olivier Bouygues paid €140m for the 65ha Château Montrose in St Estephe (about €2m per hectare), and the de Bouard family of Chateau Angelus paid €10m for a 50% stake in the 6ha Château Bellevue in St Emilion, also in 2007.

SAFER (Société d’aménagement foncier et d’établissement rural), the official body that records all land sales in France, puts the average price per hectare in Pessac-Leognan at €140,000.

Alexander Hall, director of Bordeaux-based consulting firm Vineyard Intelligence told Decanter.com, ‘The real estate market has changed since Bouygues bought Montrose, and if Pichet was buying simply from a winemaking perspective, then he would appear to be paying over the odds.

‘However, he is a real estate developer and his motivations might not be entirely focused on the winemaking potential of the property. It is after all nearly 10 hectares in total of prime real estate close the centre of Bordeaux.’

Pichet was unavailable for comment, but his official press release suggests otherwise.

‘This prestigious purchase represents a diversification of interests for the Groupe Pichet, and we are already planning a series of investments, starting with the building of new vinification facilities, and the restoration of the park to encourage biodiversity.’

Written by Jane Anson in Bordeaux

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